There are a lot of veterans with PTSD which means they also have an increased risk of having a stroke. Disability is available if you can prove your service connection.
Veterans who suffer from strokes may wonder whether their condition can qualify for Veteran’s Benefits (VA). In some cases, stroke victims will be eligible for VA benefits, providing much-needed monetary assistance. VA disability benefits are tax-free and will help veterans and their families support themselves.
Unfortunately, sometimes the VA will deny benefits to veterans who should be able to recover. The denial could be an error on the part of the VA or the result of a mistake that the veteran made when filing their documents. The claim may also lack necessary evidence linking the disability to the veteran’s time in service. In any of these cases, a VA disability lawyer can offer help and support to the veteran and assist in filing an appeal.
In This Article On VA Ratings for Veterans Suffering From Strokes
- Understanding Strokes
- Symptoms of a Stroke
- Why Acting Fast Matters in Stroke Cases
- Types of Strokes
- Studies Link PTSD to Stroke Risks
- Special Disability Considerations for POWS
- Use Our VA Disability Calculator to Combine Your Ratings
- You Can Appeal the VA’s Decision
- FAQs about VA Disability for Stroke Victims
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 795,000 people suffer strokes each year in the United States. Strokes are one of the most common causes of disabilities in Americans. Older individuals might face a higher risk of a stroke, but they can strike at any age. In fact, slightly more than one-third of stroke patients are under 65 years old.
Symptoms of a Stroke
One of the most critical aspects when treating a stroke is catching the condition early on. If you suffer a stroke and delay treatment, the damage will be worse than if you received prompt medical care. It is essential to learn the early signs to catch a stroke as quickly as possible.
If you experience a stroke, you may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:
- Headaches: Headaches alone are often not a cause for concern, but a severe headache that comes on suddenly might be a sign of a stroke.
- Vomiting: Along with a headache, a stroke can cause a person to vomit.
- Dizziness: Strokes can lead to dizziness and a loss of coordination.
- Difficulty walking: A stroke can cause you to lose your balance and stumble or fall.
- Vision trouble: Strokes may lead to blurry vision, double vision, or blackened vision.
- Numbness and paralysis: If you suffer a stroke, you might feel that your arm, leg, or face becomes numb, paralyzed, or weak. In many cases, the symptoms only impact one side of your body. You may find that one-half of your mouth is drooping or that you struggle to lift one of your arms.
- Difficulty speaking or comprehending others: You may begin to slur your words and have trouble understanding what other people say to you.
One way to remember a stroke’s symptoms is using the acronym “FAST,” which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. The face and arms refer to the tendency to experience paralysis, weakness, or numbness on just one side of the body. Speech serves to remind us of the confusion and slurred works that are characteristic of people suffering strokes. The acronym itself and the word time both point to the importance of seeking immediate medical attention.
Why Acting Fast Matters in Stroke Cases
A stroke involves an interruption in the supply of blood to the brain. The blood flow might be reduced or it might be interrupted. When the brain is not receiving an adequate blood supply, it also cannot receive oxygen and other vital nutrients. When this happens, you start to lose brain cells.
If you get prompt medical attention, doctors may be able to prevent severe brain damage. There are effective treatments for stroke patients, but identifying the condition quickly is imperative for a favorable outcome.
There are times where soldiers experience a stroke while deployed, which will show up in your C-file or medical records. There are other times where strokes can occur years after you are discharged, but they were caused by something that happened while you were enlisted. That is why it is important to know the causes and the various types of strokes.
Types of Strokes
The most common variety of strokes is ischemic stroke. About 87 percent of people who have strokes fall into this category. This form of stroke occurs when an artery delivering blood to the brain becomes blocked. If you suffer from this form of stroke, you likely experienced a blood clot.
There are two forms of hemorrhagic strokes, and both involve blood leaking into the brain and putting pressure on brain cells. An intracerebral hemorrhage takes place when your artery bursts in your brain and blood spill into the tissues. A subarachnoid hemorrhage involves bleeding between the thin tissues around your brain and your brain itself.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
TIAs are often called mini-strokes. If you suffer from these, it is likely that a blood clot blocked the flow of blood to the brain but only for a matter of a few minutes. These strokes are often a warning that you might suffer a more severe stroke soon, so it is important to identify these when they occur.
Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Heat strokes are different from other types of strokes. A heat stroke can lead to brain damage because of your organs overheating, including your brain. Heat exhaustion is similar but not quite as severe. It may be possible to receive a VA disability rating for heat exhaustion or heat stroke-related complications.
Long Term Effects of Strokes
In the aftermath of a stroke, a person might experience certain types of cognitive decline and memory loss. However, studies indicate that strokes will also lead to long-term decreases in cognitive abilities.
If you suffer a stroke, you will often find that your global cognition and executive functioning suffer as a result of that condition. Your global cognition is your ability to reason and think. Executive functioning skills allow you to manage time, make decisions, prioritize, and organize. You may not find any impact on your ability to learn new things or on your verbal memory.
VA Disability Benefits and Strokes
There may be VA disability benefits for stroke victims, but you will have to show that the stroke is related to your time in service. Proving a link can create specific challenges. Records indicating that a stroke or related conditions occurred during your time in the service will be helpful in these cases.
Some conditions may have links to your time in service, leading to a stroke. If the underlying condition is service-related, you may be able to get stroke-related VA disability benefits.
Stress Can Lead to a Higher Risk of Strokes
Researchers linked high levels of stress to an increased risk of suffering a stroke. In fact, people who live with chronic high stress have about four times as high of a risk of strokes. Stress can also lead to heart attacks. If you have high blood pressure, which is common in people with high levels of stress, your risk of suffering a stroke is more significant than for people coping with less stress.
Of course, for many people, especially military members, high levels of stress are a part of their job. It is possible that military-related stress could lead to an increased risk of strokes.
Studies Link PTSD to Stroke Risks
Post-traumatic stress disorder dramatically impacts a person’s risk of suffering a stroke. According to research, young adults with PTSD have about twice the risk of having a stroke as compared to other individuals their age.
PTSD is a condition from which many veterans suffer. About 30 percent of service members from the Vietnam War experienced PTSD, 12 percent of veterans from the Gulf War, and 20 percent of veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom.
Earlier studies also linked PTSD to strokes in older individuals, but it appears even youth will not prevent the potentially devastating impacts of these conditions. If you suffer from PTSD and have had a stroke, those two conditions may result from your time in service. If so, you may be able to recover VA benefits as an ischemic stroke victim.
Diabetes Increases Stroke Risks and Shares Links to Agent Orange
Studies demonstrate that the risk of developing strokes is about one and a half times higher when a person has diabetes. If you have diabetes, your pancreas may not make the right amount of insulin. As a result, you can end up having sugar or glucose in your blood. Sugar can cause fat buildup and blood clots in your arteries. When blood flow to the brain suffers an interruption, the result can be a stroke or mini-stroke, referred to as transient ischemic attacks (TIA mentioned above). A diabetes diagnosis could lead to VA benefits for a TIA or an ischemic stroke.
Diabetes is sometimes related to a person’s time in the military. The VA will assume a service connection between type 2 diabetes and time in the military for veterans who suffered exposure to Agent Orange. Other herbicides may also lead to an assumed link to military service.
If you suffer from diabetes and experienced a stroke, both conditions may be the result of time in the military. Additionally, Agent Orange has links to a long list of other medical conditions, including various forms of cancer.
One of our VA disability lawyers goes over the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions list in this video:
Special Disability Considerations for POWS
The VA assumes that certain conditions are related to time spent in the service when a veteran is a POW. Strokes are among those conditions. The presumption exists regardless of the length of time that you were a prisoner. If you are a former POW, you should learn more about VA benefits for stroke victims.
What is the VA Disability Rating for a Stroke?
The VA disability ratings for strokes will vary based on the severity of the symptoms. If the veteran suffers paralysis, the rating will depend on the level of paralysis and any related rating. In minor cases, the rating could be as low as 10 percent, but in severe cases of paralysis, a veteran could receive a far higher rating.
In a case of limited long-term impacts where the VA applies a ten percent rating, the monthly payments are currently $165.92 a month. The number jumps to $327.99 in cases where the VA gives you a 20% rating. Once the ratings increase to 30 percent, the benefits will vary depending on whether the disabled veteran has dependents.
|Disability Rating||Monthly Payment (veteran only)|
Multiple Disabilities and Benefits
When a disabled person has more than one disability, the VA ratings become more complicated. Disabilities do not stack cleanly. A person with a 60 percent disability for complications resulting from a stroke and a 20 percent disability from a back injury does not lead to an 80 percent disability rating.
The VA would subtract the higher percentage, in this case, 60 percent, from your 100 percent ableness if you had no existing disabilities. The VA then considers you 40 percent abled. Next, they will take twenty percent from your 40 percent. 20 percent of the 40 is eight—so your new ability level is 32 percent. This means that the VA considers you 68 percent disabled rather than 80 percent disabled.
The VA rounds disability to the nearest ten so that you would get benefits based on a 70 percent disability rating. As mentioned, a single veteran with no dependents, a disability level of 60 percent, can recover $1,319.65 in tax-free benefits from the VA. That same person can recover $1,663.06 if a second condition increases their rating to 70 percent.
In this video, one of our clients who was in the Navy didn’t realize the ringing in his ears was a VA disability until long after his service.
Use Our VA Disability Calculator to Combine Your Ratings
Calculating your VA disability benefits can be complicated. Our law firm developed a VA disability calculator that you can use to estimate the benefits that you should be able to recover based on your disability and dependents.
Here is a video of one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers teaching you how to use our VA Disability Combined Ratings Calculator.
You Can Appeal the VA’s Decision
If the VA denies your claim for disability benefits based on a stroke, you can challenge that decision. It is feasible that you made a mistake in your paperwork or that your doctor failed to link your condition to your time in the service effectively. In one recent year (2018) an audit found that 38% of VA decisions involved errors on the part of the VA.
A VA disability lawyer can help you develop a strong appeal and challenge the VA’s ruling. An attorney can also help you challenge the VA if you believe that your disability rating is too low. As the above examples indicate, a ten percent increase in a VA disability rating for a stroke can lead to hundreds of dollars more every month. Also, if administrators wrongly denied your benefits, you may be able to recover VA backpay for disability.
Woods & Woods is a family-owned law firm that specializes in providing help to veterans. With the help of our large and experienced staff, we have been helping people since 1985. We can help you challenge the VA’s decisions and get you the support you and your family need.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to better serve disabled veterans in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
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FAQs about VA Disability for Stroke Victims
It’s not too late. You are looking for DIC benefits for surviving spouses and dependents. Call our office and let’s talk about your dad’s conditions and his service and we can tell you if you have a case at no charge.
Yes, based on the symptoms she shows at her C&P exam. Because the effects of a stroke can be long-lasting and statistically lead to other conditions, you should apply for VA disability right away. Once we establish a service connection or a secondary service connection for her conditions, the VA will have to review her whole quality of life to decide on her case. That will work to your advantage.