If you are a veteran and have Crohn’s disease, you may be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA offers a variety of benefits to veterans who have qualifying service-connected illnesses or conditions. In this blog post, we will discuss how to win a Crohn’s disease VA rating. We will summarize the process and offer some tips on denied claims.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause inflammation and damage to the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Unfortunately, a severe case of Crohn’s disease can have a severe impact on your quality of life.
How Do I Get A Crohn’s Disease VA Rating?
You will not see “Crohn’s disease” listed as a specific VA disability. However, this is one of many times that the VA will rate “by analogy.” In short, the VA will use the closest diagnostic code possible when there is not an exact matching code. In this case, 38 C.F.R. § 4.114, Diagnostic Code 7323 for ulcerative colitis is what they will normally use.
The VA requires three key items to award a Crohn’s disease VA rating:
First, you need to have a current disability. This means that you are currently being treated for Crohn’s disease and that it is affecting your life. The VA will not award a rating if you do not have an active case of Crohn’s disease.
Second, you need to have a nexus. This means that the VA needs to tie your current disability back to your time in service. There are many ways to do this, and each case is different. Some common ways include medical records, statements from witnesses, and personal statements.
Finally, you need to have service-connection. This means that the VA needs to know that your Crohn’s disease was caused by your time in service. However, the VA also rates Crohn’s as a secondary condition.
Crohn’s Disease VA Rating Levels as #7323
Is Crohn’s A Primary Or Secondary Rating?
A primary rating is a disability that is directly caused by active-duty service. For example, I injured my neck in an incident on active-duty. As a result, my disability for my neck is a primary disability. However, the neck later caused radiculopathy in my arms. The radiculopathy is a rating, but it is secondary to my neck injury.
Crohn’s disease is a strong claim because it can be either a primary or secondary claim. In fact, many veterans with PTSD develop Crohn’s or other digestive issues. As a result, veterans with a mental health issue need to pay close attention to their digestive health. The link between mental health and digestive issues is too involved for this post, but there is absolutely a link between the two.
Help! My Crohn’s Disease VA Rating Was Denied!
Your journey to the “hundo club” (100% disability rating) will probably take several years. As a result, you need to understand that the VA will try to deny every claim. However, your job is to prove that you have earned a Crohn’s rating VA rating.
First, you need to examine the denial letter in great deal. The VA sometimes gets very specific as to the reason for the denial. Frequently, the VA will deny because of: lack of diagnosis, lack of nexus, or lack of service-connection.
The denial for lack of diagnosis is relatively easy to overcome. You must be currently receiving treatment for your Crohn’s disease. Go to the doctor! Tell the truth! Ultimately, the VA will continue to deny your claim until you have a current diagnosis.
The denial for lack of nexus is a frequent problem. The VA acknowledges you had a disability on active duty, and that you currently have a diagnosis for the same disability. However, “nexus” is the proof that the current diagnosis is the same disability that started on active duty. Veterans who go without medical treatment for several years will find that the VA will try to deny for lack of nexus. As a result, you need to seek medical care. In addition, you probably need to pay for a “nexus letter” from a medical professional. We cover nexus letters in greater detail in our boot camp.
The denial for lack of service-connection is tough to overcome. This frequently happens when the veteran never went to medical for treatment on active duty. However, you can overcome this through personal statements and buddy letters from friends and family. However, the VA will rate a Crohn’s disease VA rating as a secondary disability, and that is a good option for overcoming this denial reason.
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