Many of our nation’s veterans, especially Vietnam War veterans, suffer from bladder cancer. If you are a veteran dealing with bladder cancer and you can establish that your impairment is service connected—that is it was caused by or made worse by your military service—you may be eligible for VA disability benefits.

For veterans undergoing treatment for bladder cancer, or those in a period of post-treatment recovery, the VA will assign a temporary and total disability rating. While receiving x-ray, chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedures for bladder cancer, the VA will assign to the veteran a temporary 100 percent disability rating for up to six months following the end of treatment. If a veteran’s bladder cancer remains active, the VA will extend their temporary and total disability rating until the cancer goes into remission.

Once a veteran’s bladder cancer has been treated and is in remission, they may still receive disability compensation if they have one or more residual symptoms. The VA will assign a disability rating to the most predominant residual symptom—either kidney dysfunction or a voiding dysfunction like urinary leakage or blockage. The assigned rating will range from zero percent up to 100 percent depending on the severity of the dysfunction. For example, if a veteran requires intermittent or continuous catheterization to void the bladder, the rating schedule specifies a 30 percent rating. But if a veteran has kidney problems that require regular dialysis they will be rated 100 percent disabled.

Erectile dysfunction may also be a secondary condition as the result of bladder cancer. Those veterans who experience E-D as a result of their service-connected bladder cancer may qualify for special monthly compensation.

Although many medical experts have linked bladder cancer to exposure to Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War, the VA has yet to add it to the list of presumptive diseases. 


If a veteran is diagnosed with a disease classified as presumptive, that veteran can qualify for disability benefits without the burden of proving the condition was caused by military service. Some veterans’ organizations and advocates believe that bladder cancer may be added in the near future to the presumptive condition list for those exposed to Agent Orange.


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