Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 900 thousand people each year. Veterans are more prone to all types of heart disease than the general population, putting them especially at risk. Many types of heart disease can be controlled, but if left untreated, they can cause greater health concerns or even result in death. Understanding the VA disability rating for arteriosclerosis can help you know more about the benefits you may be entitled to.
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Military service harmed your heart. You went into the military with a healthy heart but came home with heart disease or developed it later due to your service. Regardless of which related heart disease you’re experiencing, you can receive VA disability benefits for arteriosclerosis that’s connected to your military service.
In this article about the VA disability rating for arteriosclerosis:
What is arteriosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis is the thickening and hardening of the walls in the heart’s arteries. It can reduce blood flow to other parts of the body. Arteriosclerosis is a progressive condition that develops over time and is most common in people over 60. Arteriosclerosis is an umbrella term used to describe different types of heart disease.
The 4 ways arteriosclerosis manifests itself are:
- Coronary Artery Disease – This condition is plaque buildup inside a coronary artery. It can cause a heart attack. Coronary artery disease is not only the most common arteriosclerotic heart disease in the U.S., it’s the most common type of heart disease in general.
- Peripheral Artery Disease – The arteries in the legs, arms, or pelvis narrow, which can cause leg pain and difficulty walking.
- Carotid Artery Disease – The carotid arteries narrow. These arteries carry blood to the head and aorta. When blood flow is constricted, it can result in a stroke.
- Aortic Aneurysm – The aorta, which is the body’s largest blood vessel, enlarges. It can cause pain and even lead to death if a large aneurysm bursts.
The specific symptoms associated with arteriosclerosis depend on the type of condition you develop. However, some general symptoms of arteriosclerosis can include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid retention
- Irregular heartbeat
- Numbness, weakness, cold, or discoloration in the legs
- High blood pressure
- Decreased kidney function
If left untreated, arteriosclerosis is likely to worsen and can cause more severe health concerns. Doctors may recommend lifestyle changes like exercise, a healthier diet, medication, or heart procedures to control the blood flow issues.
What is the difference between arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis are related, but they aren’t the same thing.
Arteriosclerosis is the general name for conditions that thicken and harden the arterial walls. It’s caused by and encompasses four heart conditions listed above.
Atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease, is a specific type of arteriosclerosis. It’s when plaque made up of cholesterol, fatty substances, calcium deposits, and other materials accumulate and narrow the arteries. As the arteries narrow, it restricts blood flow to other parts of the body.
Veterans and arteriosclerosis
Studies show veterans are more prone to all types of heart disease. Researchers believe various factors cause the risk of arteriosclerosis to increase in veterans. These factors include combat-related stress, deployment-related exposures, and the development of service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other conditions commonly related to heart concerns.
VA disability rating for arteriosclerosis
Veterans can receive an arteriosclerosis VA rating if their condition was caused or worsened by military service.
The VA rates arteriosclerosis with diagnostic code 7005, arteriosclerotic heart disease (coronary artery disease) in the Schedule of Ratings. This diagnostic code rates using the General Rating Formula for Diseases of the Heart. Arteriosclerosis can be rated at 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%, depending on your MET score. A MET score is calculated using the difference between your resting heart rate and the rate during a specific activity, like jogging.
|Description||VA rating||Monthly payment(veteran only)|
|More than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the last year; or workload of 3.0 METs or less results in heart failure symptoms||100%||$3,621.95|
|Workload of 3.1–5.0 METs results in heart failure symptoms||60%||$1,319.65|
|Workload of 5.1–7.0 METs results in heart failure symptoms; or evidence of cardiac hypertrophy or dilatation confirmed by echocardiogram or equivalent (e.g., multigated acquisition scan or magnetic resonance imaging)||30%||$508.05|
|Workload of 7.1–10.0 METs results in heart failure symptoms; or continuous medication required for control||10%||$165.92|
While coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) is the only condition specifically listed under the diagnostic code for arteriosclerotic heart diseases, other forms of arteriosclerosis can still qualify you for disability benefits.
Arteriosclerosis and common secondary conditions
A veteran can receive a secondary service-connected disability rating for any health condition caused or aggravated by their service connected arteriosclerosis. Medical evidence must link the primary and secondary service-connected impairments, or the secondary impairment must link to another service-connected health concern.
Conditions secondary to arteriosclerosis include:
- Erectile Dysfunction. Arteriosclerosis is a common cause of erectile dysfunction because it lessens blood flow throughout the body, including to the penis.
- Chronic Kidney Disease. Long-term reduction of blood flow because of arteriosclerosis can contribute to the development of chronic kidney disease.
Additionally, arteriosclerosis can cause lupus. Heart disease is common in people with lupus because the illness causes plaque to build up along the artery walls.
TDIU for arteriosclerosis
In some cases, a veteran can be awarded a total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) for their heart condition. This occurs when a veteran can’t obtain substantially gainful employment due to their condition. TDIU may be granted for a veteran’s arteriosclerotic heart disease alone, or may be granted based on the combined effects of other service-connected conditions.
Heart conditions can prevent a veteran from performing various work-related tasks, like lifting, standing or sitting for long periods, or coping with high-stress environments. Veterans who develop secondary conditions to their illness may struggle even more. When veterans apply for and are granted a TDIU, they are compensated at the 100% disability rating level even though their condition is rated below 100%.
Veterans who can’t hold down a steady job that supports them financially (known as substantially gainful employment) because of their service-connected disabilities are eligible for TDIU if they have:
- At least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling OR
- Two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more
“They brought me from being stuck at 30%. Denial after denial. Finally rated at 70%. Appealed for total and unable to work disability since 2014. Without Woods and Woods, I would still be stuck at 30%.“
Woods and Woods can help
If you experience arteriosclerosis you believe is connected to military service, either on its own or secondarily, you deserve VA disability compensation. Contact Woods and Woods to file an initial claim or appeal a rating decision. You only pay us if we win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes. Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is a type of arteriosclerotic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease is a presumptive of Agent Orange exposure for qualifying veterans.
The VA disability rating for arteriosclerosis depends on the level of impairment you experience. Arteriosclerosis can be rated at 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%, depending on your MET score.