Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after someone witnesses or experiences a life-threatening, traumatic, or terrifying event.

Veterans who suffer from service-connected PTSD may also suffer from secondary medical conditions, including hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Untreated, high blood pressure can lead to vision loss, kidney and heart disease, and stroke.

hypertensionAccording to research cited by the American Heart Association, soldiers in the U.S. military who were severely injured during the Afghanistan or Iraq wars or diagnosed with PTSD are at a greater risk of suffering from high blood pressure.

Additionally, researchers have found that soldiers who suffered from PTSD were up to 85 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn't have PTSD. The more severely injured the soldier, the more likely she was to have hypertension.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes hypertension as a ratable illness, and you may be eligible for disability benefits if you suffer from this as a secondary condition. If you can prove your hypertension is related to your service-connected PTSD, contact an experienced VA disability lawyer to help file your claim for compensation.

VA Disability for Secondary Hypertension

A secondary service-connected condition is when an established medical condition that was either caused or aggravated by an incident or event during a person’s time in the military leads to a new and separate condition.

You will need to demonstrate two things to the VA in order to be granted secondary service connection for hypertension:

  • A diagnosis for hypertension; and
  • Medical evidence showing the link between your service-connected PTSD and your hypertension.

This link is known as the nexus. Your private doctor or VA doctor will need to provide the VA with a nexus letter which is a medical opinion linking your hypertension to your already service-connected disability. Any medical records that support a connection between those conditions are also worth submitting to the VA. The nexus between your primary condition and secondary condition must be clearly established in order to be granted service connection on a secondary basis. 

To receive a disability rating for PTSD secondary hypertension, your doctor needs to document your diagnosis of high blood pressure. Additionally, to file your claim, your doctor needs to fill out the Hypertension Disability Benefits Questionnaire. It’s important to note that you can’t fill out this form yourself—the VA won’t accept the form submitted by a veteran. It must come from a licensed physician.

When filling out the form, your doctor needs to include two important pieces of information:

  • A detailed medical history about your condition, your symptoms, and any other relevant information that affect the decision by the VA.
  • A professional opinion about how your hypertension impacts your ability to perform on the job.

The claims examiner reviews this information and assigns a disability rating for your high blood pressure.

Contact Cuddigan Law

Convincing the VA that a secondary service condition qualifies for increased disability compensation can pose many challenges, but these cases can be won. If you believe you qualify or if you have applied for VA disability benefits and were denied, call us at Cuddigan Law for a free, no obligation review of your case.

Our attorneys will examine your case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit a claim that increases your chances of receiving disability benefits. Contact our office today. Call (402) 933-5405 or email us at [email protected].


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