Asthma is a condition that narrows and swells the airways while also producing extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult, creating shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing, trouble sleeping, and other related symptoms.
As long as appropriate supporting evidence is submitted to the VA, Veterans may be able to get a disability rating of 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%. That will require:
- A current diagnosis of asthma
- An in-service event, injury, or illness
- A medical link between the current diagnosis and in-service event
The amount of a Veteran’s rating for asthma depends upon the frequency and severity of their symptoms. For some Veterans, asthma is a minor annoyance. For others, it is a major health issue that can interfere with work, life, and social activities and may lead to life-threatening episodes.
Asthma is also often linked to other conditions, such as sleep apnea, that can create a higher overall disability rating. Studies have shown a link between there is a bidirectional relationship between bronchial asthma and obstructive sleep apnea, where each disorder adversely influences the other one.
Asthma VA Disability Rating Criteria
To be eligible for an asthma VA disability rating, Veterans must meet these criteria.
- A medical diagnosis of Asthma in-service treatment records, VA medical records, or private medical records.
- Asthma was caused or made worse by a Veteran’s active-duty military service, creating a needed service connection
- Persistent and recurring asthma symptoms
The VA uses two tests to determine the severity of a Veteran’s asthma so that an appropriate percentage rating can be awarded.
Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV-1) is the amount of air you can exhale forcefully in one second. The VA compares this against what a normal person can breathe out and measures it as a percentage.
Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) compares a Veteran’s FEV 1 results with their FCV results. This ratio represents the proportion of a person’s vital capacity that they can expel in the first second of a forceful exhale. Vital capacity is the maximum amount of air that a person can inhale or exhale from the lungs.
Ratings are applied based on the following results.
|FEV-1||Less than 40%||100%|
|FEV-1/FVC||Less than 40%||100%|
If these tests are not performed, asthma can be rated based on the kind of medication used to treat the condition or the severity of the condition based on the number of ER visits.
When a Veteran suffers two or more attacks per week with respiratory failure that requires ER visits to save their life, that will lead to a 100% rating. When a Veteran suffers attacks that require monthly ER visits to save their life, that will lead to a 60% rating.
The following standards are used when using medication to determine a rating.
|Treatment with a daily high dose of steroids or immunosuppressive medications taken by mouth or injection||100%|
|Treatment using steroids or immunosuppressive drugs taken by mouth or by injection three or more times a year||60%|
|The occasional use of inhaled anti-inflammatory medicine or daily bronchodilator therapy taken by mouth or inhaled||30%|
|Occasional bronchodilator therapy taken by mouth or inhaled||10%|
Asthma often changes and worsens over time, so it’s critical for Veterans to work closely with medical professionals to document a baseline and track symptoms to adjust treatment as needed. This could lead to a disability claim review in the future, resulting in a higher VA disability rating.
Veterans should be aware of asthma symptoms’ increased frequency and intensity and consider using a peak flow meter to officially monitor lung capacity. Flare-ups may be more intense with exercise, more sensitivity to workplace irritants such as dust, chemicals, or fumes, and heightened sensitivity to allergies.
Secondary Conditions to Asthma
It may be possible to combine service-connected disability ratings for more than one condition linked to asthma. Veteran Ratings consulting partners and their network of medical professionals can guide Veterans through documenting secondary conditions that can be submitted to the VA for a combined rating. Some of the common secondary conditions linked to asthma include:
- GERD (acid reflux or heartburn)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Depression and Anxiety
- Nasal polyps
- Vocal Cord Dysfunction (Inducible Laryngeal Obstruction)
- Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome
- Type 2 Diabetes
Evidence Needed To Get a VA Asthma Rating
In addition to complete medical records and test results, Veterans must establish a service connection to their asthma diagnosis to be awarded a VA disability rating. There are specific criteria to link the two elements. Veterans must demonstrate:
- Current Medical Diagnosis. Veterans must have a confirmed diagnosis of asthma from a qualified medical professional.
- In-Service Event or Exposure. Documentation of a specific event, injury, or exposure during the Veteran’s military service that could reasonably cause or exacerbate asthma, such as burn pit exposure, exposure to toxic chemicals, or other environmental hazards.
- Medical Nexus. This officially provides medical evidence or expert testimony connecting the diagnosed asthma to the event or exposure during service.
Strengthening Your VA Disability Claim for Asthma
Veterans can simplify or strengthen their claims through the following efforts.
- Persian Gulf Service and Presumptive Rating. Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf or some regions of Southwest Asia and were diagnosed with asthma within a year of discharge might qualify for a presumptive service connection.
- Compensation & Pension (C&P) Exams. After a VA asthma disability claim is filed, the VA may schedule a C&P exam. This medical examination evaluates the severity of the asthma and its impact on daily life. Veterans can use medical professionals in the Veteran Ratings network to help them complete this critical task.
- Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). This document captures detailed information about the asthma condition, its severity, and its impact. Veterans can have their primary care physician fill out this form, offering a firsthand account of their medical history and current condition.
FAQs About Asthma VA Rating
Can I receive VA benefits for asthma if it was pre-existing before my military service?
Yes. If you can provide the VA with evidence that your asthma worsened or was aggravated by military service, you can still qualify for disability benefits.
What should I do if my Asthma VA claim is denied?
It is possible to appeal a decision, but you will need to know why your claim was rejected, which will be noted in your denial letter, and then work with medical professionals to help you resolve shortcomings in your initial claim application. Due to the complex nature of supplemental claims and appeals, Veteran Ratings and our consulting partners only guide current clients.
What common mistakes should I avoid when filing my claim?
The best way to get approval on an initial claim is to document your asthma condition thoroughly and fully understand the VA requirements to meet the threshold for approval. Veteran Ratings has a 95% initial approval track record. Because we and our network of professionals guide Veterans through the process daily, we know the best course of action and documentation required for approval.
Can I receive VA benefits for asthma and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits?
Yes. Veterans who receive VA disability benefits may also receive SSA benefits, depending on how much they receive from the VA and if they are approved for SSI or SSDI.
VA benefits will affect the SSA amount since disability benefits are considered unearned income because it does not come from paid employment. It is deducted dollar for dollar from the SSI federal payment amount after the general exclusion of $20. However, SSDI benefits are not affected by unearned income through VA benefits.
How often will I get re-evaluated for my asthma rating?
It depends. If your condition worsens, you can request a reevaluation to see if you can qualify for a higher rating. Conversely, the VA may request periodic re-evaluations, especially when they believe your asthma might improve over time.