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Can I Get a VA Disability Rating for GERD?

November 17, 2023

The journey through the VA disability claims process can be daunting, with complexities and obstacles that often seem insurmountable. That’s where Truman Law steps in and offers you a guiding hand, unwavering support, and the legal expertise needed to navigate this challenging terrain.

For veterans seeking assistance with their VA disability claims, Truman Law is more than just a law firm—we are your advocate, your ally, and your voice in a system that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Join us as we explore the intricacies of VA disability ratings for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and the path to obtaining the benefits you deserve.

What Is GERD?

As you are likely aware, GERD is a chronic medical condition that affects the digestive system. It occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. Symptoms of GERD can vary but often include heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.

GERD can be triggered by a variety of factors, including diet, lifestyle choices, and genetics. It’s essential for veterans to understand this condition, as it can be a basis for seeking a VA disability rating for service-related health issues.

This disease is particularly relevant to veterans as it can be connected to their military service, making them eligible for VA disability benefits.

VA Disability Ratings

A woman meeting with a medical professional

When it comes to VA disability ratings, it’s important to note that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evaluates the impact of disabilities on veterans’ lives and assigns disability ratings on a scale of 0% to 100% (in increments of 10%). These ratings reflect the severity of the disability and determine the level of compensation veterans receive.

To qualify for a VA disability rating for GERD, veterans must meet specific criteria set by the VA. Since the VA does not have a specific diagnostic code for GERD, the rating is typically based on the severity of symptoms and their impact on the veteran’s ability to work and perform daily activities. Here’s a breakdown of the key criteria for different disability ratings:

  • 10% Rating. Veterans may receive a 10% disability rating if they have mild GERD symptoms that can be managed with medications or lifestyle changes.
  • 30% Rating. A 30% disability rating is typically awarded when GERD symptoms are more severe, causing moderate discomfort and requiring regular medication.
  • 60% Rating. For veterans with severe GERD symptoms that significantly affect their quality of life, including the ability to work or engage in daily activities, a 60% disability rating may be granted.

It’s essential for veterans to provide thorough medical evidence, including documentation of GERD symptoms and their impact, when applying for a VA disability rating. Additionally, it’s crucial to understand that the severity of GERD symptoms may change over time, and veterans should seek periodic reevaluations to ensure their disability rating accurately reflects their condition.

Establishing Primary and Secondary Service Connection for GERD

Establishing service connection for GERD is a crucial step in securing a VA disability rating. Veterans can do this by demonstrating that their GERD is related to their military service or by linking it as a secondary condition to other service-connected disabilities. Here’s a closer look at both scenarios:

  • Primary Service Connection. Veterans can establish primary service connection for GERD by providing evidence that their condition began or was aggravated during active duty. This may include medical records showing GERD symptoms while in service or a documented history of treatment for GERD after military service.
  • Secondary Service Connection. GERD can also be connected as a secondary condition to other service-connected disabilities. For example, if a veteran has a service-connected condition such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a respiratory condition that aggravates or leads to GERD, they can seek a secondary service connection.

Common Primary Conditions that May Lead to Secondary GERD Service Connection

  • Respiratory Conditions. Conditions like chronic bronchitis or asthma that require the use of inhalers or affect breathing can contribute to GERD development.
  • Obesity. Obesity is a known risk factor for this condition, and if obesity is service-connected, it may support a secondary service connection claim for GERD.
  • PTSD and Anxiety Disorders. High-stress conditions can contribute to GERD symptoms, making them potentially eligible for secondary service connection.
  • Hernias. Hiatal hernias, if service-connected, can be linked to the development of GERD.
  • Medications. Certain medications prescribed for service-connected conditions can lead to GERD symptoms, potentially supporting a secondary service connection claim.

Understanding these avenues for service connection is vital, but it’s often complex. Veterans may need to provide substantial medical evidence to substantiate their claims effectively. And that’s where having a legal partner like Truman Law can be quite beneficial.

Challenges Veterans May Face

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While the VA provides a system for veterans to seek compensation for service-related conditions like GERD, there are challenges along the way. Some of the common obstacles veterans may encounter include:

  • Gathering Sufficient Medical Evidence. Compiling thorough medical records and evidence to prove service connection and the severity of GERD symptoms can be a daunting task.
  • Navigating the Claims Process. The VA claims process can be intricate and time-consuming. Veterans may face delays and bureaucratic hurdles.
  • Appealing Denials. If an initial claim is denied, veterans must navigate the appeals process, which can be equally challenging.

Let’s look at some tips to help you strengthen your claim and prepare for C&P exams. In doing so, you will see the invaluable assistance a VA disability attorney can provide you throughout this process.

Tips for Veterans

Navigating the VA disability claims process for GERD can be complex, but here are several key tips to help veterans build strong claims and increase their chances of a successful outcome:

  • Document Your Symptoms. Keep a detailed record of your GERD symptoms, including their frequency, severity, and how they impact your daily life. This documentation will be crucial when providing evidence to the VA.
  • Seek Medical Treatment. Consistent medical treatment for GERD is essential. Ensure that all medical visits, prescriptions, and treatments are well-documented, as this will support your claim.
  • Obtain Buddy Statements. Statements from friends, family members, or fellow service members who can attest to your GERD symptoms and their onset during or after military service can be invaluable.
  • Prepare for C&P Exams. Be thorough and honest during Compensation and Pension (C&P) exams. These exams play a significant role in the VA’s decision-making process.
  • Consider Legal Representation. Given the complexities of VA claims, consider working with a VA disability attorney like Karl Truman. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process, gather necessary evidence, and ensure your rights are protected.

RELATED: How Much Weight Does a C&P Exam Have? – Truman Law

The Value of Working with a VA Disability Attorney

Veterans facing the VA disability claims process for GERD often wonder whether they should seek legal representation. Here’s where the expertise of a VA disability attorney can be advantageous:

  • Navigating Complex Regulations. VA disability claims involve a web of regulations and legal intricacies. An experienced attorney can guide veterans through this complex system.
  • Gathering Strong Evidence. Attorneys understand the types of evidence needed to support a claim. They can help gather medical records, service records, and other relevant documentation.
  • Maximizing Compensation. An attorney’s goal is to ensure veterans receive the compensation they deserve. They can work to secure the highest possible disability rating and fight for back pay if applicable.
  • Appeal Assistance. If your initial claim is denied, an attorney can assist with the appeals process, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.

As a 28-year veteran himself, Karl Truman cares deeply about VA disability cases. Our team has extensive experience in handling VA disability claims, and we know how challenging they can be for veterans and families. You can trust that you’re in capable hands.

Securing Your VA Disability Benefits for GERD With Truman Law

Truman Law stands as a dedicated ally to veterans in the Louisville, KY, and Jefferson, IN, communities, and beyond. Our unwavering commitment to serving those who’ve served our nation is personified by veteran Karl Truman, a trusted advocate with a long history of successfully handling VA disability claims.

Truman Law is here to guide you through this intricate process, with invaluable legal expertise and unwavering support. Our aim is clear: to ensure veterans receive the benefits they rightfully deserve, allowing them to lead fulfilling lives post-service.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Truman Law for help with your VA disability claim. Your service to our nation deserves recognition, and we’re here to ensure you receive it. Contact us today by calling (812) 505-4243 or filling out our brief online form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.