The Complete Guide to VA Disability Benefits for Veterans

The Complete Guide to VA Disability Benefits for Veterans With Rheumatoid Arthritis

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The autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis can cause severe pain and joint damage. It may also lead to other health conditions that can affect your ability to work.

The VA rates rheumatoid arthritis under diagnostic code 5002. You can receive a rating of 20% to 100%, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

How to Get a VA Disability Rating for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Many factors go into determining a veteran’s disability rating. First and foremost, the VA looks at how many joints are affected and whether or not they’re rated in a full range of motion. Your doctor will use a goniometer tool to measure your joint’s range of motion accurately.

The severity of your symptoms is also critical. The higher your ratings, the more you can be compensated. Veterans with rheumatoid arthritis may be eligible for a 60 percent rating if their symptoms are severe enough to cause total incapacitation. A 100 percent rating is possible if your rheumatoid arthritis causes multiple other health problems, such as anemia, weight loss, and a decline in overall health.

The most crucial step in the process of receiving a disability rating is demonstrating that your rheumatoid arthritis is connected to your military service. Law firms can help you get a nexus letter from your physician and collect the evidence necessary to strengthen your case.

Service Connection

If your rheumatoid arthritis was caused or worsened by conditions you experienced during service, you can receive compensation through VA disability benefits. These benefits can help you live your best life and get medical care.

In addition, the rheumatoid arthritis VA rating is determined through a comprehensive evaluation of the severity of the condition and its impact on a veteran’s ability to perform daily activities, considering factors such as joint inflammation, pain, and functional limitations.

Your disability rating depends on the severity of your symptoms and how they affect your day-to-day activities. A 100% rating is possible if your condition causes severe incapacitating episodes that significantly affect multiple organs and body systems. You may also receive a 60% rating if your condition leads to weight loss, anemia, or a decline in overall health on four or more occasions each year.

To bolster your claim, you can submit lay evidence such as letters or a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) filled out by your private doctor. You can even hire a lawyer to submit these documents for you. If you have a rated chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis, you could qualify for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits if it limits your ability to work.

Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

Once you’ve received a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), keeping your medical records up-to-date is essential. This includes nexus letters from your private doctors that show a link between your diagnosis and active service. The VA also sometimes asks that you participate in a Compensation and Pension, or C&P, exam to confirm your condition’s relationship to active service.

If you have severe rheumatoid arthritis with a schedular rating of 100% but cannot perform substantially gainful employment, you may qualify for TDIU benefits. To get a TDIU award, you must prove that your service-connected disabilities and other disabling conditions prevent you from being able to find work to support yourself. You should hire a veterans’ law attorney to help you prepare your claim. They can ensure you have all the required evidence, including work attempts and statements from former coworkers that speak to your ability or inability to work.

Other Conditions

The strength of your medical evidence is critical to proving that you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and that it was service-connected. Often, injuries you sustained in the military will have contributed to your arthritis, but this is not always the case. It is also possible that your exposure to environmental elements during service may have contributed to your condition.

If you have a 60% or higher rating, your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are rated under Diagnostic Code 5002. A maximum rating of 100% is possible for this condition, though it is rare to get such a high rating. Ratings for other symptoms, such as limitation of motion, are based on different codes and grouped by the joints that experience them. Typically, this is a 10% rating per joint. Sometimes, you can combine these ratings to receive a higher total disability rating. However, this must be done carefully. This type of combination is known as a secondary service connection.

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