gastrointtestinal ratingAll Veterans with certain gastrointestinal conditions now will be eligible for higher disability ratings and Gulf War Veterans are now eligible for presumptive condition status for an expanded group of functional digestive conditions. 

The Veterans Affairs Department recently modified the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) which applies to 55 medical digestive conditions. The three biggest changes that will affect the largest number of Veterans include new evaluations for celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and hemorrhoids.

Celiac disease is a condition where the immune reaction to eating gluten (a protein found in foods containing wheat, barley or rye) creates inflammation that damages the small intestine's lining, leading to medical complications. Previously, celiac didn’t have its own rating code. It was rated with analogous code; a rating was assigned based on what condition most closely matched the symptoms the veteran had, and the ratings ranged from 0% to 30%. With these new changes, celiac disease now has its own diagnostic code and is rated from 0% to 80%

The VA adjusted the rating criteria for evaluating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Previously, the VA rated IBS at 0%, 10% or 30% evaluations for the condition based on the frequency of symptoms. Under the new criteria, Veterans may be entitled to 10%, 20%, or 30% evaluations.

Both internal and external hemorrhoids also have new, higher ratings. Prior to the new modifications, the VA assigned a 0% evaluation if the condition was identified as mild or moderate, and for more severe conditions a 10% or 20% rating. Under the new VASRD rating criteria mild or moderate hemorrhoids will now qualify for a 10% rating.

There will be no change to any Veteran’s current rating based solely on these updates. If you currently receive compensation for a service-connected condition, you can apply for increased compensation. (Click here for more on these updates to the VA Disability Rating Schedule.)

Along with these VASRD changes the VA has also extended presumptive condition status to a group of a group of conditions marked by chronic or recurrent symptoms related to any part of the gastrointestinal tract for Gulf War Veterans. Examples include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome.

Presumptive conditions means that the VA automatically presumes that certain disabilities were caused by military service. Veterans with these conditions don’t need the usual amount of evidence to file a disability claim.

The VA considers functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) to be presumptive conditions for Gulf War veterans if certain criteria are met:

  • The Veteran served in a recognized location in Southwest Asia.
  • A health care provider diagnosed the Veteran while on active duty or after separation.
  • The Veteran has been ill for at least six months.
  • The FGID is a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness.

Did you know that about 75% of initial claims for disability benefits are denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs? If you're disabled and unable to work, you can't afford to risk submitting an incorrectly prepared or incomplete application. It typically takes about one year to receive a determination from the VA, but if you're denied and have to file an appeal, that process takes even longer. Do everything you can to help your claim succeed the first time: download your free copy of The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims (With Insider Tips to Maximize Your Benefits) today! And for a free evaluation of your VA disability claim, contact us at Cuddigan Law. We’re in your corner and will fight for your rights.




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