Irritable Bowel Syndrome and VA Benefits
If you are a veteran who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and you believe that this medical condition is a result of your time in military service, you may have the legal right to receive VA compensation for irritable bowel syndrome. IBS can be an especially challenging ailment, and many veterans are afflicted with health concerns related to their digestive systems, including IBS. VA disability ratings for IBS are predicated on the frequency, duration, and severity of the symptoms you suffer. Ensuring that you VA benefits for this condition is important to help you live your fullest life. Unfortunately, many VA claims are denied on the basis of IBS. If your VA claim was denied, the seasoned veterans benefits attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC take great pride in help in veterans like you with their VA appeals. Contact us today at (800) 342-2727.
The Mayo Clinic states that IBS is a common ailment that directly affects the large intestine of those who are afflicted. Some of the most common symptoms associated with IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, and cramping, which are difficult enough to endure. More serious cases, however, can lead to the following more dangerous symptoms:
- An unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent pain
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Rectal bleeding
The Mayo Clinic also identifies triggers such as stress and risk factors such as mental health issues – both of which are common to many veterans (especially for those affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD). Because IBS is closely associated with a diminished quality of life and to mood disorders such as increased anxiety and depression, it is important to take the matter seriously.
The Link Between IBS and Veterans
The fact is that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has conclusively identified a link between IBS and service in the military. While linking irritable bowel syndrome and VA benefits is challenging in individual cases, you should not let this stop you from seeking the benefits to which you are entitled and seeking an appeal if your VA claim was denied.
The Presumption of Service Connection for POWs and Veterans of the Gulf War
The VA recognizes an established presumptive connection related to IBS for anyone who was held as a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 30 days and for anyone who served in the Gulf War (in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations). This means that, if either applies to you, you will not be required to prove a connection between your IBS and your service in the military. The presumption in these cases is that IBS and military service are connected, and this naturally helps to streamline the benefits process.
The Service Connection for All Other Veterans
For all other veterans, the connection between IBS and military service must be proven, and there are three circumstances that can establish such a connection, including:
- The IBS in question first manifested or was first diagnosed during the veteran’s service, which establishes a service connection.
- The IBS in question was diagnosed prior to military service, but the disorder became more pronounced after joining the military.
- The IBS in question manifested during military service but was not diagnosed until after leaving the service.
Each of these approaches to proving a connection between IBS and military service involves its own challenges, but the knowledgeable veterans benefits attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC, can help you with your VA appeal if your claim based on IBS was denied.
Manifestation During Service
If you acquired IBS while in the service and were diagnosed as such at the time, establishing your ailment’s connection to service is more straightforward. However, if you began suffering from IBS while in the service but the disorder was misdiagnosed, you will have additional obstacles to clear. For example, it is not unusual for IBS to be diagnosed early on as a food-borne illness, which is also very common to military service. Many instances like this result in a denial from the VA, which is why it is important to consider visiting with an experienced attorney to ensure your legal rights remain protected.
Made Worse by Service
If your IBS was exacerbated by your military service, the path forward can be exceptionally challenging. You will need to demonstrate in your appeal that the complications you are currently encountering are not a natural progression of the disorder but are, instead, service-related.
If your IBS was not diagnosed until after you left the service, you must be able to show in your VA appeal that your IBS-related disability manifested during your military service but was either misdiagnosed or failed to be correctly diagnosed at that time.
The VA’s disability ratings for IBS are addressed by the Code of Federal Regulations, which implements all the following names for the disorder:
- Irritable colon syndrome
- Mucous colitis
- Spastic colitis
Regardless of whether the disorder is caused by the sufferer’s nerves, muscles, intestinal microflora, or intestinal lining, the disability rating applied by the VA is based on the level of abdominal distress experienced and by whether or not the case involves diarrhea.
A Mild Rating
If the case involves only mild and occasional abdominal distress and disfunction of the bowels, it is deemed mild, and the disability rating is 0 percent.
A Moderate Rating
If the case involves frequent occurrences of bowel dysfunction that is accompanied by abdominal distress, it is deemed moderate, and the disability rating is 10 percent.
A Severe Rating
If the IBS case involves diarrhea or alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea – along with constant abdominal distress – it is deemed severe, and it receives the highest disability rating for IBS cases, which is 30 percent.
Consult with an Experienced Veterans Benefits Attorney
IBS can diminish your enjoyment of life and can preclude you from participating to the fullest. Unfortunately, many claims involving VA compensation for irritable bowel syndrome are denied. Irritable bowel syndrome and military service are commonly linked, and although proving the connection in your appeal case may be challenging, you have a legal right to receive VA compensation for irritable bowel syndrome. The formidable veterans benefits attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC have extensive experience helping veterans like you obtain benefits through the appeals process, and we are ready to fight for you. For more information, please do not wait to contact or call us at (800) 342-2727 today.