Veterans with high blood pressure may be surprised to find out their disability might be service-connected and be eligible for VA compensation.
Has your health provider diagnosed you with high blood pressure? This is not something to ignore. High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer.”
Are you a veteran who completed your service in the past year? If so, you may be eligible for a VA disability rating for high blood pressure. This article will explain everything you need to know about this rating.
The rules are different for service members that are less than a year out. Let’s explore the details and call us for free if you need help.
In This Article About High Blood Pressure and VA Ratings:
- Overview of High Blood Pressure
- Causes of Hypertension
- Impact of Hypertension on Daily Life
- Understanding the VA Rating System
- VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure
- VA Disability High Triglycerides or Hypercholesterolemia
- The VA Disability Application Process
- Tips When Filing the VA Disability Application
- Appealing Your VA Disability Rating
- Appealing Your VA Benefits Decision
- Do You Need Help with a VA Disability Claim?
Overview of High Blood Pressure
The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. Blood flows through the arteries under pressure. The blood volume leaving your heart and the arterial resistance affects this pressure.
When more blood travels through narrowed arteries, the pressure increases. Diseases can cause arteries to narrow and lose elasticity.
Doctors refer to blood pressure in two numbers. Systolic is the top number and diastolic is the bottom number.
Systolic measures the pressure as the blood leaves the heart. The diastolic measures the pressure when the heart fills with blood. An average normal adult blood pressure is about 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic.
Causes of Hypertension
Several factors can increase the risk of hypertension. As individuals age, the blood vessels often get thicker and stiffer.
You’re at increased risk for hypertension if you have a family history of HBP (High Blood Pressure). Certain genes can contribute to the development of high blood pressure.
Being male places you at higher risk for hypertension than females. Yet, in older age, women’s risk is higher for men. Women with high blood pressure during pregnancy have a higher risk of hypertension.
Some people have a hereditary sensitivity to dietary salt. This is often seen among African Americans and older adults. Chronic kidney disease and metabolic syndromes raise hypertension risk associated with salt intake.
The incidence of hypertension is higher among African American and Hispanic adults. Conditions that impact normal hormone function also raise an individual’s risk of hypertension. Examples include diabetes, certain tumors, sleep apnea, and thyroid disease.
Lifestyle habits often contribute to hypertension. These habits or choices can include:
- Eating unhealthy foods that are high in sodium and low in potassium
- Excess intake of alcohol or caffeine
- Lack of physical exercise
- Tobacco smoking
- Illegal drug use including cocaine, “bath salts”, and methamphetamine
- Lack of quality sleep
- Being overweight or obese at any age
Some prescription or over-the-counter medicines may contribute to high blood pressure. Examples include decongestants, antidepressants, and hormonal birth control pills. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin can elevate blood pressure.
The VA Rating formula for mental health conditions like PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders is explained by one of our veterans’ disability lawyers in this video:
Impact of Hypertension on Daily Life
Most people do not experience any symptoms when their blood pressure is high. Thus, it may go undiagnosed until serious health conditions occur. The following describes medical consequences that can result from hypertension:
- Aneurysms: ballooning out of artery walls that can rupture causing life-threatening bleeding
- Chronic kidney disease or failure due to damaged vessels traveling to the kidneys
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Eye damage: bleeding, blurry vision, blindness
- Disease of the arteries in the arms and legs
- Disease of the arteries in the heart
- Vascular dementia caused by problems with the blood vessels in the brain
- Sexual dysfunction due to decreased blood flow to sexual organs
- Brittle bones caused by an increased loss of calcium
Obstructive sleep apnea can be both a cause and a consequence of hypertension. Over half of individuals with hypertension experience obstructive sleep apnea. This causes sleep deprivation which increases the risk of hypertension.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about sleep apnea VA disability ratings.
Understanding the VA Rating System
If you’re a veteran with a service-related condition, you will receive a VA disability rating. It’s important to understand how the VA assigns these ratings.
The VA Rating Authority assigns a rating percentage. This describes the percent that you’re disabled.
Here is a video explaining how the VA combined ratings table works from one of our Veterans Disability Compensation Lawyers.
A rating of 0% means that the condition doesn’t have a negative effect on the veteran’s daily activities. A 100% rating means the veteran can’t work or care for themselves. The VA rounds the percentage rating to the nearest ten: 40%, 50%,60%, and so on.
If you have more than one condition, the VA will combine the percentages together. It’s important to note that you can never have over a 100% rating. The reason is that no one can be more than 100% able.
VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure
The hypertension VA rating depends on the severity of your high blood pressure. The VA using the 38 CFR 7101 Hypertensive Vascular Disease criterion.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) describes the rules from the Federal Government. The 38 CFR 7101 addresses hypertension and isolated systolic hypertension.
This code establishes the following rating criterion:
|Blood Pressure Reading||VA Rating for High Blood Pressure|
|Diastolic Pressure at 130||60% VA Rating|
|Diastolic Pressure at 120||40% VA Rating|
|Diastolic Pressure at 110-119 or |
Systolic Pressure of 200 or higher
|20% VA Rating|
|Diastolic Pressure at 100-109 or |
Systolic Pressure of 160-199
|10% VA Rating|
If you take blood pressure medicine that controls a diastolic pressure that was 100 or more, you’re rated at 10%.
Hypertension or isolated systolic hypertension means abnormal readings taken two or more times. These readings must occur on at least 3 different days.
For the purposes of this code, hypertension is a diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. Isolated systolic hypertension is a predominant systolic pressure of 160 mmHg or higher. For systolic hypertension, the diastolic pressure is lower than 90 mmHg.
VA Disability High Triglycerides or Hypercholesterolemia
The VA doesn’t grant a disability rating for high triglycerides or cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). Yet, there are several other conditions that meet the service-connected criteria. Heart injuries, diabetes, hypertension, and circulatory problems can all involve high cholesterol.
While high cholesterol, by itself, isn’t a disability, it may signal a bigger problem. It’s important to see your provider and have them check for other diseases. Ask them to fully document their findings.
Receiving a diagnosis of one of these related conditions may qualify you for VA benefits.
Here one of our VA disability compensation lawyers talks about the benefits available to 100% rated disabled veterans.
The VA Disability Application Process
Filing a correct and complete VA Disability application helps you get the benefits you’re due. The following is a step-by-step guide to completing the application process:
Consult a VA Disability Attorney
VA disability attorneys work with veteran disability applications on a daily basis. We’re familiar with the laws and what the VA’s Rating Authority looks for. Using an expert will ensure that your application and documentation are complete.
Create an eBenefits Account
There are two options for filing your VA benefits application. You may mail a paper application to your regional office or an EIC. However, it’s recommended that you file online. Creating an eBenefits account lets you file and track your claim through the process. Since all of your application is handled electronically, you don’t have to have a VA lawyer near you. You can hire someone like us who has been helping people get justice since 1985.
You don’t have to use a Veteran’s compensation lawyer that is nearby. We can work with you over the phone and apply or appeal electronically.
Submit Supporting Documentation
Be sure to include evidence of all your mental and physical disabilities. Often, veterans don’t know that a condition may qualify as a secondary service-connected impairment.
Also, submit your DD-214 or other separation document and all service treatment records. This provides key information that helps establish that your condition is service-connected.
Demonstrate a Service Connection
“Service-connected” means your disease or injury has a direct link to an event during active duty. You must show evidence that meets these 3 requirements for a service-connected ruling:
- The injury, disease, exposure, or aggravation happened during Armed Forces active duty
- The illness or conditions is believed to result from an active duty incurrence
- There’s a direct link between the disability or disease and the service-connected illness, injury, exposure, or aggravation
The Regional Office will only need pertinent VA healthcare or private medical files. You must show that your condition has persisted over time.
Ensure providers document all your disabilities as well as diagnoses, treatment, and prognosis. Disability evidence may include the following:
- Service or private treatment records
- Personnel records
- Naval group, squadron, or battalion records
- Disability Benefits Questionnaires
- Nexus opinion letters
If you lost your records in the National Records Center, St. Louis fire, you can submit a Buddy Letter. This is a statement from someone over the age of 17 who has first-hand knowledge of the injury event. This provides a witness account supporting the veteran’s claim.
Medical opinions must provide justification for the opinion that the condition is service-connected. The presumed veteran’s military service-connected conditions list includes hypertension. Note that you must receive the diagnosis within 1 year of your discharge from active duty.
Keep Copies and Receipts
Always keep a copy of your entire application packet including additional documentation. If you choose to file your application by mail, you should receive a VA letter within a few weeks. For eBenefits applications, you’ll receive a digital confirmation within hours.
Add these letters or confirmations and any other correspondence to your file. This will prove invaluable when checking on the claim and if you decide to appeal the decision.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers talks about one of the most important parts of a winning veteran’s disability claim: the nexus letter.
Once filed, a Veterans Service Representative (VSR) reviews your claim. The VSR may request further documents from you, your doctor, or government agencies.
When they complete their review, they send a letter to the VA. It includes their recommendation and supporting data. Sometimes, more evidence is requested.
Upon reaching a final decision, the VA sends you a Rating Decision letter. If you don’t agree with their rating, you may file an appeal.
Tips When Filing the VA Disability Application
Fill out your VA disability application from the perspective of an outsider. Examine your mental and physical problems as if you just met yourself. This can help provide a more complete picture.
Include pertinent, thorough information about all aspects of your disability. This includes how and when it started and a full description of current problems. By painting a complete picture, the VA examiner doesn’t have to guess.
Include details about how your condition limits your daily activity. How often are you unable to perform normal work, activities, or self-care? If you had a condition when you enlisted, explain exactly what made it worse.
Appealing Your VA Disability Rating
If you disagree with the VA’s disability rating or compensation, you have the right to an appeal. It’s recommended that you seek help from a VA disability attorney at the start of this process. We have experience helping veterans navigate the appeals process every day.
If you feel that your rating is too low or you were denied, it’s important to file an appeal as soon as possible. You only have one year to make this type of appeal. You can also file an appeal if your mental or physical condition has become worse since your last rating.
If you were rated too low or denied benefits and then win your appeal, you may have back-pay due. If this is the case, you will receive a lump-sum payment.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm
Appealing Your VA Benefits Decision
If your condition worsened and prevents you from working, you’re eligible to file an appeal. A VA benefits attorney can help you apply for the Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefit.
If you disagree with the VA disability rating, you may file a Clear and Unmistakable Error (CUE) claim. This states that the rating is incorrect and should be set aside. It’s the veteran’s duty to show that the C file facts and regulations or the VA’s decision at the time of the ruling were wrong.
It’s important to understand that CUE claims aren’t often approved. Thus, many veterans choose other legal approaches for appealing VA disability claims.
Incorrect back pay may present another reason for an appeal. All back payments should be from the effective date. Sometimes, the VA has an incorrect effective date which impacts the payment amount.
Whether you choose to file a VA disability appeal or a CUE VA appeal, you must begin within one year. This “clock” starts when you received the VA decision about your rating. Filing a CUE claim is a long process and may jeopardize your ability to later file a disability appeal.
Do You Need Help with a VA Disability Claim?
Time is important when filing an application for a VA disability rating or an appeal. This article explained the VA Disability Rating for High Blood Pressure. It also described the process for the initial application and appeals.
Woods & Woods VA disability lawyers provide assistance to veterans at no charge. They offer advice on how to file your initial VA compensation claim. Their expertise can help you receive the benefits you’re due.
If you wish to appeal the VA decision, our experts are here for you. We’ve helped thousands of veterans file appeals and obtain individual unemployability benefits. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.