Commonly known as "nerve damage," peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. A person with neuropathy can experience prickling or numbness in the fingers and toes that may spread to the feet and hands. In later stages, the condition may cause shooting pains, burning, or throbbing. It’s also possible to lose balance and coordination.

Thousands of veterans have been disabled because of neuropathy—a condition that has many causes, but can result from exposure to toxic chemicals, infections, and traumatic injury during military service. Proving your eligibility for Veterans’ Disability Compensation Benefits may be a challenging and complicated process, and you need to show that your condition is service-connected.  

Service-Connected Neuropathy and Agent Orange

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a compensation schedule for rating disabilities. Neuropathy is listed as a disease of the peripheral nerves under Neurological Conditions and Convulsive Disorders. The VA uses this schedule to assess your disability. But for those veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange—a chemical used to destroy crops and trees during the Vietnam War—you qualify for presumed disability. Because it’s likely that exposure to this chemical caused certain diseases, these diseases are considered “presumptive diseases,” and the VA accepts that military service caused the condition.

Agent Orange and Diabetes

Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy, resulting in diabetic neuropathy disability. Because of nerve damage, a person Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosismay not sense pain in his toes or feet, and this can result in sores or open wounds that aren’t noticed right away. If these sores aren’t treated, the person can experience infections that can become quite serious.

Vietnam War veterans may qualify for presumed disability caused by exposure to Agent Orange if their condition is brought about by diabetes. Veterans diagnosed with early-onset type 2 diabetes and whose symptoms include peripheral neuropathy are eligible. If early-onset peripheral neuropathy occurred within one year of exposure, and a veteran is at least 10 percent disabled based on the VA rating schedule, it is assumed that military service caused the condition.

If you are a veteran suffering from peripheral neuropathy and need VA Disability compensation benefits, or if you have been denied disability benefits, contact us at 402-933-5405, and let us review your case.


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