VA Disability Rating for Allergic Rhinitis
An allergic rhinitis VA disability rating gives you access to monthly compensation depending on the severity and impact on your daily life. The rating depends on whether you have nasal polyps or compromised breathing ability. You can get a disability rating for allergic rhinitis as a single condition or as a secondary disability to asthma, depression, or other physical and mental health problems. Learn more through Veterans Guide.
Allergic rhinitis is a respiratory condition many veterans develop due to their service. They may experience several symptoms that impact their ability to work and the quality of their lives.
You can apply for an allergic rhinitis VA rating as a single condition or secondary to another service-related condition. Asthma is a risk factor for rhinitis, as are mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Because airborne pollutants can lead to allergic rhinitis, the VA recognizes it as a presumptive condition for Gulf War-era veterans and veterans who served post-9/11. Your doctor can help you build a claim that increases your chances of maximizing your disability rating for allergic rhinitis.
Veterans and Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction involving inflammation that affects the throat, eyes, and ears. Allergens in the air trigger the release of histamines, leading to fluid build-up, itching, and swelling in the linings of the eyelids, sinuses, and nasal passages.
Symptoms of rhinitis include the following:
- Irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat
- Nasal polyps in chronic cases
Pollen, mold, smoke, certain foods and odors, and other environmental factors trigger allergic rhinitis. People with other respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, are at a higher risk for rhinitis. Veterans exposed to smoke, dust, mold, or airborne particle pollution during their service are at risk for developing the condition. Veterans who were exposed to burn pits are particularly susceptible to the condition.
The VA recognizes allergic rhinitis in its disability ratings, and it is considered a presumptive condition for some veterans.
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How Does the VA Rate Allergic Rhinitis?
According to diagnostic code 6522, the VA assigns a 10% rating for allergic or vasomotor rhinitis with no nasal polyps but with a greater than 50% obstruction of nasal passages on both sides or 100% on one side. A 30% rating is assigned for when nasal polyps are present.
There are no other ratings for allergic rhinitis, though your overall rating may increase if you have it in conjunction with another disability.
One of the ways to determine your potential VA disability rating is to have your doctor fill out the rhinitis public disability benefits questionnaire, or DBQ. The VA does not require that you send a DBQ with your disability claim. Still, it is a helpful piece of evidence because it is designed using VA eligibility criteria, such as having nasal polyps.
Total Disability Individual Unemployability and Allergic Rhinitis
Total Disability Individual Unemployability, or TDIU, is a VA program for veterans who cannot hold gainful employment due to their condition. Under TDIU, you can receive the benefits of a 100 percent rating even if you have a lower overall rating. To qualify for TDIU, you must meet one of two conditions:
- One service-connected disability rated at 60 percent or higher
- Multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined 70 percent rating and one rated at least 40 percent
You cannot qualify for TDIU with an allergic rhinitis VA rating alone, but you may qualify if it is a secondary disability. If you feel you qualify because you cannot work, you must file a TDIU application form with your claim and a request for employment information. You must also submit medical records and doctor’s notes to support your inability to work.
Allergic Rhinitis as a Secondary Disability
Allergic rhinitis can occur with asthma from the same service-related exposure to airborne particles. Rhinitis is also associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Researchers are still trying to determine if dealing with the symptoms of rhinitis and other conditions causes mental health problems or if a person’s mental health affects their body’s reactions to the environment.
Allergic rhinitis can also occur completely separately from another disability. For example, you may have left the service due to a back injury and also received an allergic rhinitis diagnosis. In this case, the VA combines your ratings.
To avoid combined ratings over 100 percent, the VA uses a combined ratings table when you have two or more disabilities. For example, if you have an allergic rhinitis rating of 30 percent and a 60 percent asthma rating, your combined score is 72. The VA uses 10 percent increments in final disability ratings, so the 72 is rounded down to 70 percent as a final rating.
Service-Connected Aggravation of Allergic Rhinitis
If you had rhinitis before joining the military, and your service aggravated your condition, you can file a claim for aggravation of a preservice disability. You must show through medical evidence that you had allergic rhinitis, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, when you joined the military. You must also show that the aggravation was due to your service, not your condition’s natural progression.
Using that evidence, the VA may assign you a rating based on the percentage that your allergic rhinitis was aggravated. For example, it may give you a 10 percent disability rating for your previous rhinitis. If you developed nasal polyps due to your service, the VA might rate your rhinitis at 30 percent. Your final disability rating is 20 percent, or the difference between your preexisting condition and aggravation.
Presumptive Service Connection for Allergic Rhinitis
The VA considers certain conditions to be presumptively related to your military service. This means you do not have to prove the connection between your service and disability when you file your claim.
One of the conditions the VA recognizes for Gulf War-era veterans and people who served post-9/11 is chronic rhinitis. This is based on the presumption that particles from burn pits and other airborne toxins caused your rhinitis. To receive a presumptive service connection, your rhinitis must be a chronic condition, not one that comes and goes. Evidence of polyps forming, which happens over time, can show that your condition is chronic.
How to Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Allergic Rhinitis?
If you believe your allergic rhinitis is service-related and want monthly compensation, you can file a claim with the VA. If your claim is approved, you will receive monthly payments based on your overall rating and access to other VA programs. There are three ways to apply:
- Fill out VA Form 21-526EZ and mail it to the VA Claims Center listed on the form
- Bring your completed application to the nearest VA regional office
- Fill out the online form
Include VA and private medical records with your claim, and ask your doctor for a completed rhinitis DBQ form to include in your packet. You can also submit supporting statements from fellow service members, family members, and friends who can attest to your condition.
The VA may require a compensation and pension exam, or C&P exam, particularly if your evidence isn’t enough to support your disability claim. You may also need future exams to determine if the status of your allergic rhinitis has changed.
If you need help understanding how to receive VA disability benefits for allergic rhinitis or another condition, contact Veterans Guide for help.