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Veteran Endocrine Disorders

Hormone disruption can have varying effects and can result in health problems ranging from diabetes to cancer. Although many people are exposed to potential endocrine disruptors daily, some veterans may be disproportionately affected as a result of toxic environments or substances encountered during their service.

Contaminated environments and toxic substances can disrupt the endocrine system. You may be eligible to file for Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits if you suffer from endocrine conditions related to your service in the U.S. military.

When you enlist in the military, you anticipate danger, potential injuries, and even death. However, you probably did not expect to be unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals or harsh training environments that would take a toll on your body long after your service had concluded.

Unfortunately, endocrine disorders related to military activities are not uncommon. These activities may be as innocuous as drinking the local water at Camp Lejeune or being deployed to a high-stress combat zone.

Sometimes you can link the endocrine condition directly to a military event. Other times, proving your condition is service-related may be more challenging. To receive VA benefits, you must be able to provide a link between your condition and service.

You may be eligible for VA benefits if you have an endocrine disorder and you believe it is related to your time serving in the military. The severity of your eligible condition will determine how much you will receive in benefits. Eligible veterans can file an endocrine disorders disability claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

What is the endocrine system?

The endocrine system is a hormone system that consists of the following:

  • Glands positioned throughout your body
  • Gland-created hormones that enter the fluid of surrounding cells or the bloodstream
  • Receptors located in your tissues and organs that recognize and react to the hormones

These hormones help to regulate bodily processes, such as blood-sugar, energy, and reproductive organs.

Examples:

  • Insulin
  • Testosterone
  • Estrogen
  • Thyroxine
  • Triiodothyronine

When your body’s endocrine system is not functioning properly due to impaired body processes or hormone production, you may develop an endocrine disorder.

Causes of Endocrine System Problems in U.S. Veterans

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals — such as Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA — surround civilians and military members, alike. But veterans have a greater chance of being exposed to harmful substances.

However, as a veteran, you may have been exposed to additional potential endocrine disruptors. Regular activities, such as training, stress, and limited sleep, can wreak havoc on your hormones and endocrine system.

man with hormone issues

Effects of Military Service on the Endocrine System

  • Intense training exercises can impact hormone levels within the service member’s endocrine system.
  • A lack of sleep during military duty can impact hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, insulin, and leptin.
  • The stress of serving in a combat zone and other high-pressure military environments can cause an overload of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol; chronic stress is associated with depression and low testosterone levels.
  • Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions and head wounds from combat zones, can damage the pituitary gland, disrupting the luteinizing hormone.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experienced by up to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, can cause behaviors that result in metabolic changes associated with the disruptions of hormones.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as Agent Orange, may be associated with thyroid cancer.
  • Researchers have linked radiation exposure to illnesses such as certain thyroid conditions in U.S. veterans.

Although the above environments and experiences may result in disorders of the endocrine system, everyone is different. Some veterans may not suffer long-term detrimental health effects from their intense training routines, while others may experience significant consequences.

You should discuss potential tests with your doctor if you believe you may suffer from an undiagnosed endocrine system disorder. Many veterans remain undiagnosed or are diagnosed years after developing a service-related endocrine system issue, such as low testosterone.

Are Endocrine System Conditions Eligible for VA Disability?

Many endocrine system conditions are eligible for endocrine disorder disability benefits through the VA.

Endocrine-Related Disorders Eligible for VA Benefits and Their Diagnosis Codes
  • Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism (7900 and 7903)
  • Toxic and nontoxic thyroid enlargement (7901 and 7902)
  • Hyperparathyroidism (7904)
  • Thyroiditis (7906)
  • Cushing’s syndrome (7907)
  • Acromegaly (7908)
  • Diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus (7909 and 7913)
  • Addison’s disease (7911)
  • Polyglandular syndrome (7912)
  • Malignant and benign neoplasms of the endocrine system (7914 and 7915)
  • Hyperpituitarism (7916)
  • Hyperaldosteronism (7917)
  • Pheochromocytoma (7918)
  • C-cell hyperplasia of the thyroid (7919)

You can receive disability benefits for multiple distinct endocrine disorders, so long as they are service-connected.

VA Rating Schedule for Endocrine System Conditions

Your disability rating is determined according to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities Code and the severity of your condition. Your endocrine system disability rating will be determined based on: 

  • Your specific disorder (and associated diagnostic code)
  • Your disability rating
  • Whether the VA covers your condition

For example, hypothyroidism with myxedema, which includes muscular weakness, hypotension, bradycardia, pericardial effusion, and mental disturbances, such as dementia and depression, is a disorder with a rating of 100 percent.

After a six-month evaluation of the effects of hypothyroidism after the patient has stabilized, the VA rates the “residual disease” — the remaining malady or symptoms — according to the appropriate body system.

Other conditions with 100 percent ratings include active Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly, diabetes mellitus that requires more than one daily insulin injection, and malignant neoplasm in any part of the endocrine system.

Some disorders of the endocrine system get a rating of 100 percent for a certain amount of time but are dropped to a lower percentage based on the severity of the disorder and the affected body system after treatment.

Compensation Rates

You can expect the following monthly compensation rates if you have no dependents:

  • Disability rating of 10 percent: $165.92 
  • Disability rating of 20 percent: $327.99
  • Disability rating of 30 percent: $508.05
  • Disability rating of 40 percent: $731.86
  • Disability rating of 50 percent: $1,041.82
  • Disability rating of 60 percent: $1,319.65
  • Disability rating of 70 percent: $1,663.06
  • Disability rating of 80 percent: $1,933.15
  • Disability rating of 90 percent: $2,172.39
  • Disability rating of 100 percent: $3,621.95

If your rating is over 10 percent, your monthly VA disability compensation will increase for each of your dependents, including dependent spouses, parents, and children.

For example, a veteran with a 50 percent disability rating and dependents could expect to receive the following monthly compensation:

  • Veteran with no dependents: $1,041,82
  • Veteran with only a spouse dependant: $1,141.82
  • Veteran with a spouse and one parent dependants: $1,222.82
  • Veteran with a spouse and two parent dependants: $1,303.82
  • Veteran with one parent dependant: $1,122.82
  • Veteran with two parent dependants: $1,203.82

A veteran receiving 50 percent disability may be eligible for additional monthly compensation if they also have the following:

  • A spouse receiving Aid and Attendance benefits: $93
  • Additional child dependents under age 18: $50
  • Additional child dependent over age 18 attending a qualified educational program: $162

The only way to know for certain which benefits you are eligible for is to submit your VA application for benefits. While understanding the total dollar amount of benefits you may qualify for is useful, no benefits are guaranteed until your application is approved.

Apply for VA Benefits

Living with an endocrine condition can be challenging. The VA makes an effort to compensate all eligible veterans living with a serious disability they received during military service. You might be eligible to receive disability benefits if your service in the military caused or worsened your condition.

You can file a claim for disability by going to the Veterans Affairs website and following the instructions. You’ll need your records from treatment you received during your service and all medical records from your endocrinologist and other health care providers to support your claim.

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