If you’ve experienced a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) related to your military service, you may be eligible for VA benefits (VA). Depending on the severity of your disability, you could earn monthly compensation to assist with everyday expenses.
Stroke typically stems from advanced age, genetics, or health conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes; but as a veteran, your stroke may be related to your military service. Common risk factors of strokes that can correlate with military service are hypertension, PTSD and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
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In this article about VA benefits for stroke
- Service-connected stroke could lead to VA benefits
- Symptoms of stroke
- VA service connection for strokes
- VA benefits for stroke
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke
- Hypertension and stroke
- Veterans unemployability after a stroke
- Contact Woods and Woods for help
Service-connected stroke could lead to VA benefits
According to the CDC, approximately 15,000 veterans suffer from a stroke each year. The negative effects of a stroke can interrupt your daily life and can be devastating to your well-being.
As long as you can prove a stroke or TIA you suffer is service connected, you could be awarded VA disability compensation.
Below we describe the signals and symptoms of stroke, the correlation between common veteran ailments and stroke, and the VA disability benefits you could be eligible for.
Symptoms of stroke
Strokes can occur at any time. Be sure you can recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke, so you can take quick action. If a stroke victim is not treated within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms, it may be too late.
Symptoms of a stroke can include any of the following:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion and trouble communicating
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking or lack of coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you suspect you or someone else is experiencing a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.
VA service connection for strokes
To be eligible to receive VA benefits for stroke, you must provide evidence of an in-service event, a current diagnosis, and a connection to your time in the service and your stroke, which is called a medical nexus. If you don’t think your stroke was directly connected to your military service, you may be able to prove a secondary service connection.
A stroke that has a direct service connection occurs during or after military service (on active duty or while on leave), and is a direct result of service-related activities.
A stroke that has a secondary service connection is caused by a service-connected condition. Examples of conditions that can lead to secondary service connections for stroke include PTSD, TBI, and hypertension.
Veterans who are former prisoners of war (POWs) can be service connected for stroke as a presumptive condition, which means the VA presumes a certain disability was caused by a veteran’s military service because of unique circumstances. If you are a former POW, you may be eligible for VA benefits for stroke, regardless of the amount of time you were imprisoned.
VA benefits for stroke
The VA recognizes the prevalence of strokes among the veteran population and has made VA benefits for stroke available to eligible veterans.
According to diagnostic codes 8007, 8008, and 8009, the VA rates strokes at 100% for 6 months after the veteran’s final treatment following a stroke and then re-evaluates the veteran’s overall condition. Any lingering cognitive effects are rated separately as residual conditions that are evaluated during a compensation and pension (C&P) examination. The minimum rating for residual conditions is 10%. These lingering effects can be (but aren’t limited to) depression, weakness on one side of your body, problems forming speech, memory problems, and pain in your hands and feet.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke
TBI is a physical, behavioral/emotional or cognitive disability resulting from an external force that causes injury to the brain. To put it simply, a TBI affects the way the brain works.
Regardless of the severity of TBI, research shows that TBI is an independent risk factor for stroke, making veterans especially vulnerable. TBI results from any external force such as: the head striking an object, an object striking the head (bullet, shell, etc.), blasts, explosions, vehicle crashes or other jolts to the head.
A stroke related to a service-connected TBI is eligible for a VA disability rating.
Hypertension and stroke
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for stroke. If you have high blood pressure the force of blood flowing through your veins is consistently high.
Over time, hypertension causes damage to the lining of blood vessels that can result in a narrowing of the blood vessel. Eighty-seven percent of strokes are caused by the narrowing or clogging of blood vessels, while 13% are caused by the rupture of blood vessels. The higher your blood pressure, the higher your chances are of having a stroke.
Veterans with service-connected hypertension could be eligible for increased VA benefits in the event of a stroke. Hypertension is common among veterans with stroke. In fact, hypertension affects more than 37% of all veterans.
VA benefits for ischemic stroke
Ischemic stroke is caused by a narrowing or blockage in a blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When the brain can’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, a stroke can occur.
Like the other types of stroke, ischemic stroke can be caused by a number of risk factors that are especially common in veterans such as hypertension, PTSD, and TBI.
VA benefits for hemorrhagic stroke
Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain, causing a leakage of blood and damage to brain cells. Hypertension is a known risk factor for hemorrhagic stroke, because of the extra pressure put on blood vessels that could cause them to burst. VA benefits for hemorrhagic stroke are available to qualified veterans.
VA benefits for transient ischemic attack (TIA)
VA benefits are available for veterans suffering from service-connected TIA. These “mini-strokes” occur when blood flow to the brain is restricted or blocked for a few seconds to a few minutes. Symptoms are similar to stroke, but they usually disappear within one to 24 hours.
Because TIA symptoms come and go quickly, many veterans dismiss them entirely. It’s important to recognize a TIA because it could be a warning for a more serious stroke in the future. The chances of having a stroke within 90 days of a TIA can be as high as 17%.
- Numbness or muscle weakness, usually on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Double vision or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
VA benefits for stroke residuals
Stroke residuals are the negative effects a person experiences following a stroke. Residuals can greatly affect your speech, vision, movement, eating, and your memory for the rest of your life. The VA only gives stroke residuals a rating if the stroke itself was service connected.
After you’ve had a stroke, the VA gives stroke a single 100% rating for the first 6 months following your final treatment. After that, you will be re-evaluated for your residual conditions via a C&P exam. Residual conditions receive a minimum rating of 10%.
Veterans unemployability after a stroke
A stroke’s residuals can negatively affect major bodily functions like walking and talking and make it more difficult for you to work. If the effects of a service-connected stroke or TIA prevent you from maintaining substantially gainful employment, you may qualify for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). TDIU pays at the same rate as a 100% schedular rating.
Contact Woods and Woods for help
If you have experienced a stroke or TIA that may be connected to your military service, Woods and Woods can help you get the VA disability compensation you are owed. We can help you file an initial claim or appeal a rating decision. You only pay us if we win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, any veteran with service-connected hypertension can file a claim for VA benefits, even if he is already taking medication for hypertension. It will be helpful to include the medication information and a list of blood pressure readings in the claim.
Yes, a veteran can file a claim for VA disability benefits for a service-connected stroke. If you don’t think your stroke is directly service connected, it may be secondarily service connected through service-related TBI, PTSD, or hypertension.
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