GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) involves your stomach pushing acid upwards through your esophagus. Besides being painful, GERD can cause a multitude of other health issues. It is a very common ailment in the veteran community. In addition, it can also be a high value VA claim. However, it is rare that a veteran has documentation proving that their GERD started on active duty. As a result, many veterans struggle with how to service-connect a GERD diagnosis.
Service-Connect a GERD Diagnosis: Primary
Is your goal to achieve a 100% disability rating? If so, you need to explore high value claims like GERD. The VA will frequently rate GERD as high as 60%! In addition, even a “mild” case of GERD earns a 30% rating. That is absolutely key to being properly rated. However, this will all be determined by the severity of your symptoms.
Service-Connect a GERD Diagnosis: Rating Levels
Service-Connect a GERD Diagnosis: Secondary
In a perfect world, you would have documentation from active duty proving that your GERD started on active duty. However, GERD commonly starts as a result of other injuries. As a result, many veterans will receive their GERD rating as a secondary condition.
Many veteran’s believe that a secondary claim is less valuable to your overall rating that a primary service-connected condition. However, that is not the case. Ultimately, it only matters that the VA assigns a rating for it. It does not matter if it is primary or secondary. Take the win!
The exact cause of GERD can be unknown. However, many common disabilities cause or aggravate GERD. As a result, veterans with mental health ratings, COPD, or hernias will frequently develop GERD. You prove your secondary rating for GERD through proving nexus.
How Do I Prove Nexus For My Secondary GERD Claim?
What is nexus? In plain English, a nexus is the medical proof that a service-connected condition caused or aggravated your current GERD diagnosis. In short, your medical provider needs to write a “nexus letter” to prove this. This is an out-of-pocket cost for you, but a good nexus letter can be worth tens of thousands in increased disability ratings. Ultimately, you and your provider need to show how your current disability is causing or aggravating your GERD.
Can I Service-Connect my GERD Without a Nexus Letter?
Ultimately, this is possible. However, we always want you to build a strong case for to service-connect a GERD diagnosis. A nexus letter is never a mandatory item. I have several secondary conditions that were diagnosed and linked during a C&P exam. The C&P examiner always has the option to grant nexus. As a result, some of us are successful without a nexus letter.
The longer you have been off active duty- the more essential a nexus letter will be for success. The VA’s goal is to deny everything that they can. As a result, you must overwhelm them with proof that you qualify to service-connect a GERD rating. In addition, make sure you are receiving ongoing care for your symptoms. You need to prove the GERD is an ongoing issue you deal with.
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