VA Disability Rating for Eczema
Eczema is a common condition for veterans to face after their service. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses an eczema VA rating of either 10%, 30%, or 60% along with the number of dependents that veteran supports to determine their monthly disability compensation. If you’ve been diagnosed with eczema due to your military service, contact Veterans Guide for information and assistance.
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions, dirty living quarters, or known contaminants such as Agent Orange or burn pits can all cause eczema to develop or worsen. For these reasons, many veterans suffer from the dryness and itchiness of eczema after completing their time in service.
The VA provides benefits for veterans who experience new or worsening eczema due to factors related to military service. If you are one of these veterans, you can file a formal claim to receive an eczema VA rating that will determine how much compensation you will receive each month.
Veterans and Eczema
What is eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that involves recurring rashes, itchiness, and dry, scaly skin. Those with eczema may also experience skin infections, including oozing blisters. These symptoms occur in periods known as flare-ups and can last for days to weeks at a time depending on their intensity.
More than 31 million Americans are diagnosed with eczema, which comes in several forms. Eczema can be developed in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood and greatly ranges in severity across cases.
What are the different types of eczema?
Several different types of eczema exist, including:
- Atopic dermatitis: A chronic, non-contagious form of eczema that often develops in early childhood
- Contact dermatitis: An itchy eczema rash stemming from direct contact with a substance that is caused by an allergic skin reaction and usually not contagious
- Dyshidrotic eczema: A type of eczema that appears as small blisters on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
- Nummular eczema: A chronic form of eczema that presents as coin-shaped, raised lesions that may ooze clear fluid and crust over on the top
- Seborrheic dermatitis: A type of eczema that causes scaly patches, dandruff, and inflammation mainly on the scalp and sometimes on other areas such as the face or chest
- Stasis dermatitis: Eczema that develops due to poor blood flow and causes skin discoloration and thickening, usually near the lower legs, ankles, and feet
How is eczema treated?
The most common types of eczema treatment are topicals such as moisturizers and steroid creams and typical over-the-counter antihistamine allergy medications. Prescription topical treatments and medications can be combined to treat eczema, especially when symptoms are severe.
Try not to scratch rashes or dry skin when experiencing a flare-up, as this can irritate the area further. Icing the affected area may help, as heat increases the urge to scratch, and ice can reduce eczema-related inflammation.
How can time in service cause eczema?
Since eczema usually involves the interaction between your genes and your environment, several circumstances of military service can lead to the development or worsening of skin conditions such as this. In order to receive VA benefits for eczema, you must be able to prove that your eczema developed or worsened because of your time in service. You will need verification from your primary care doctor or dermatologist.
The most common causes of eczema developed from service include:
- Long-term exposure to harsh heat, cold, or dry air
- Living for an extended period in dirty spaces, potentially with dust mites
- Inability to prevent exposure from allergens — including not having regular access to products that don’t irritate your skin
- Exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange during the Vietnam War
Exposure to burn pits, or open-air areas of trash disposal by burning, which have been linked to several lasting conditions including skin problems and rashes
How does the VA rate eczema?
VA disability ratings for eczema range from zero to 60% and score the level of intensity to which you experience symptoms. The VA combines your overall rating for all conditions linked back to your time in service with the number of dependents you support to decide your monthly compensation amounts.
The schedule for eczema VA ratings is as follows:
- 60%: At least one of:
- Lesions covering more than 40% of either the full body or exposed areas affected
- Constant or near-constant therapy such as corticosteroids, phototherapy, retinoids, biologics, photochemotherapy, psoralen with long-wave ultraviolet-A light (PUVA), or immunosuppressive drugs over the past 12-month period
- 30%: At least one of:
- Lesions covering 20% to 40% of either the full body or exposed areas affected
- Therapy such as corticosteroids, phototherapy, retinoids, biologics, photochemotherapy, PUVA, or immunosuppressive drugs required for six weeks or more, but not constantly, over the past 12-month period
- 10%: At least one of:
- Lesions covering 5% to 20% of either the full body or exposed areas affected
- Intermittent therapy such as corticosteroids, phototherapy, retinoids, biologics, photochemotherapy, PUVA, or immunosuppressive drugs required for less than six weeks total over the past 12-month period
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) and Eczema
A total disability individual unemployability (TDIU) rating can award up to 100% benefits to a veteran, despite a lower initial disability rating for their condition. This was created to help veterans unable to work due to their disabilities from service.
If your eczema is rated at 60% or you have multiple service-linked conditions at an overall rating of 70% or more with at least one at 40% or more and you cannot work, you may be eligible. Your doctor will need to verify your inability to work and the link between your condition(s) and environmental factors during military service. Your former employer can corroborate this by explaining how your condition interfered with work.
Presumptive Service Connection for Eczema
If you are a veteran suffering with eczema after being exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during the Gulf War, you may be eligible to receive compensation more easily through a presumptive service connection. This essentially means that you do not need to prove that your condition was directly linked to your time in service if you were exposed to a known environmental contaminant that has been causally linked to a variety of diseases.
Though eczema is not specifically listed as a presumptive condition for Agent Orange, you may still be allowed a presumptive service connection by providing your doctor’s official diagnosis and proof of exposure, or any official paperwork that shows you served in an affected area during the time in which it was exposed. The VA includes Vietnam, its surrounding waterways, Thailand, Cambodia, and more in its included Agent Orange-exposed areas.
Note that eczema is not considered a presumptive condition for burn pits even though it may develop or worsen due to exposure to them. In order to receive compensation for eczema developed by burn pit exposure, you will need medical evidence from your doctor that links the cause of your eczema to your time in service.
How to Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Eczema?
The process for filing for eczema disability compensation starts with submitting an intent to file form, which can be done online or by mail. Next, you’ll need to submit your claim form online or by mail along with any medical evidence of your diagnosis and service-related causes, including VA medical records and hospital records, private medical records and hospital reports, and especially a nexus letter from your doctor that explains your eczema’s direct link to your time in service.
You should include any possible supporting statements from family members, friends, and people you served with that tell more about your condition, such as how and when it happened and how it got worse.
The VA may request a compensation and pension (C&P) exam after reviewing your claim. This is an examination done by a VA-contracted medical professional to further determine whether there is a service connection to your eczema. If requested, you must attend the exam before your benefits claim can be approved.
Contact us with any questions. The Veterans Guide team is ready to provide guidance to help you receive VA benefits more easily.
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