nurse hooking patient up to dialysis machineYour body has two kidneys, each about the size of a fist, located near the middle of your back on either side of the spine. Kidneys can be thought of as the body’s “detox” or filtration system, and they perform many important functions that keep the body operating properly. Not only do they balance electrolyte levels in your body and regulate hormone levels—including one that helps control blood pressure—kidneys filter your blood by removing waste and excess fluid. Your body’s blood passes through your kidneys about 40 times a day. When you have impaired kidney function, your body’s ability to filter the blood and get rid of waste is damaged. This is called kidney disease and is a serious condition that can lead to other dangerous health problems.

Compared to other Americans, veterans have a higher rate of kidney disease, and over 40,000 veterans who have VA healthcare rely on dialysis for their condition. If you’re a veteran and can connect your kidney disease to your military service, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Kidney Disease as a Secondary Condition to Diabetes

A common cause of kidney failure is diabetes. When you suffer from diabetes, parts of the kidneys become scarred and begin to leak a protein called albumin into your blood. If diabetes goes untreated, this scarring can be so severe that it cannot be repaired, and the patient will likely enter end-stage kidney failure.

High blood pressure (HPB) is another cause of kidney failure. HBP can narrow and constrict the body’s blood vessels, including those in the kidneys, and this reduces blood flow. This constriction will ultimately weaken and damage the blood vessels, and when this happens in your kidneys, they become too narrow and can’t remove your body’s fluid and wastes. A buildup of materials that should be filtered out will cause damage to your kidneys and cause kidney failure.

Both diabetes and HBP are common service-connected disabilities. HBP can be caused by trauma or stress and is on the presumptive list that must manifest within one year of a veteran’s discharge. Those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange may suffer from diabetes. If you have diabetes and also have kidney disease, it’s possible to get your kidney disease rated as a secondary condition. Type 2 diabetes is cited on the presumptive list of conditions for those veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Qualifying for VA Disability Benefits

To qualify for VA disability benefits for Type 2 diabetes or secondary kidney disease, you need:

  • a diagnosis of your condition from a VA-approved medical doctor
  • proof of an event or incident during your military service that likely caused your condition
  • a medical nexus from your doctor that connects the condition with the incident

If your claim is approved, the VA will assign you a rating between 10 and 100 percent. This rating will indicate the seriousness and severity of your condition and will determine how much compensation you’ll receive. If your condition impacts your ability to work and/or lead a healthy, normal life, you’ll likely receive a higher rating.

Contact Cuddigan Law

If you are seeking VA disability benefits for kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, or your benefits claim has been denied, contact the legal team at Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help document your symptoms with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations. We know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your condition is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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