VA Disability Rating for Kidney Stones
Kidney stones cause immense pain and discomfort that can prevent patients from working or engaging in normal activities of daily living. Veterans have a higher risk of suffering from kidney stones. Veterans Guide offers a look at VA disability for kidney stones: how you can get it, what disability rating you can expect, and what to do if you have other conditions related to kidney stones.
Kidney stones can leave veterans with a host of symptoms: severe, radiating pain, a burning sensation when urinating, and a risk of developing an infection as urine cannot pass freely through the urinary tract. While a single kidney stone causes only temporary disability, chronic kidney stones bring ongoing limitations for veterans as they change their diets and activities to reduce the risk of developing further stones. The Veterans Administration offers a range of ratings to determine how much disability a service member is eligible for. If you’ve been impacted by kidney stones due to your time in service, read on to better understand your condition and learn how to recover payment for your disability.
Veterans and Kidney Stones
Kidney stones cause a range of symptoms. Patients with kidney stones experience pain in the back and side that can radiate to the lower abdomen or groin. Kidney stones can also cause changes in urine color due to blood in the urine, an increasing need to urinate, and nausea or vomiting. Patients may face fever and chills when an infection occurs alongside kidney stones. Chronic symptoms of kidney stones can cause patients to limit their diets or activities in an effort to avoid worsening their risk of developing stones.
Types of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can occur because of genetics or a patient’s weight. Obese patients are more likely to develop kidney stones. They may also occur due to service-connected challenges, including:
- Diet: Diets high in protein, salt, and sugar increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Service members eat high-risk diets when access to healthy food options is limited, as in some deployments. They also eat high-protein diets to help them stay in peak shape.
- Digestive diseases: Service members face a higher risk of digestive disorders than civilians. They face exposure to more bacteria and viruses than civilians and deal with a greater risk of gut disruption, which leads to diarrhea.
- Dehydration: During service, many veterans faced a high risk of dehydration. Conditions such as diabetes also increase the risk of dehydration.
- Medications: Common medications for migraines and seizures increase the risk of kidney stones. Members of the military report a higher occurrence of headaches.
The link between service and kidney stones increases when veterans face exposure to dangerous chemicals during their time in the Armed Forces.
Types of Kidney Stones
Most kidney stones are calcium stones formed due to high levels of calcium oxalate in the body. Oxalate is produced by the liver but also occurs in many foods you eat daily. Calcium phosphate stones occur due to metabolic conditions that slow the processing of calcium in the body. On the other hand, struvite stones usually form in response to an infection. Struvite stones typically occur with few warning signs, which means patients may face a large stone and the associated interventions before they realize it.
Patients with uric stones often suffer from them because of fluid loss or dehydration. Patients with diabetes or metabolic syndrome have a greater risk, as do patients who deal with chronic diarrhea. Service members may deal with uric stones because of a high-protein diet during their time in service.
How Does the VA Rate Kidney Stones?
VA disability for kidney stones depends on how often the patient experiences kidney stones and the resulting pain and incapacitation severity. Disability ratings for kidney stones fall under 38 CFR 4.115b, which covers the genitourinary system. Typically, chronic kidney stones lead to a 30% disability rating. To receive this rating, the VA establishes that the veteran requires invasive or non-invasive procedures to treat kidney stones more than twice yearly. Procedures may include diet therapy or procedures to break up kidney stones.
TDIU and Kidney Stones
A TDIU rating, or total disability individual unemployability rating, establishes that a veteran cannot work due to disabling symptoms. In order to receive a TDIU rating for kidney stones, the veteran needs to have at least 70% total disability and a qualifying disability of at least 40%. Because chronic kidney stones receive a maximum 30% disability rating, a veteran cannot qualify for TDIU with kidney stones alone. However, a veteran can qualify for TDIU with kidney stones and another service-related condition that has a disability rating of at least 40%.
In order to receive a TDIU rating, veterans need to show evidence of their past education, the jobs they have attempted to hold since ending their service, and proof that they cannot obtain or keep a job due to kidney stones and another related disability.
Kidney Stones as a Secondary Disability
Chronic kidney stones can occur due to other conditions, many of which occur due to military service.
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disorder
If you have a primary disability related to time in the Armed Forces, you can add chronic kidney stones as a secondary disability. The presence of kidney stones can increase your disability rating with the VA and the compensation you receive each month for service-related damages. You will need to have both conditions certified through the VA. See the VA disability calculator to see how multiple va ratings are combined
How to Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Kidney Stones?
VA Disability for kidney stones offers monthly payments that help make up for the losses you face due to chronic symptoms of kidney stones, including ongoing pain and serious limitations. You can file disability claim form 21-526EZ online and track your disability claim from the VA website.
- Fill out the claim form completely, providing all relevant information. If you do not offer all of the required information, the VA can deny or delay your claim.
- Attach copies of all VA or military hospital medical records related to your kidney stones. Your previous medical records can show the service-related connection, especially if you have conditions such as diabetes that occurred due to your time in the Armed Forces and that increase your risk for kidney stones.
- Attach copies of non-military hospital records. If you sought treatment outside a VA or military hospital, including emergency treatment for kidney stones, obtain copies of those records and include them as part of your claim.
- Add any statements from fellow service members, family, and friends that lay out the complications you have experienced because of kidney stones and how they impact you long-term.
A Nexus letter from your doctor establishes the connection between your time in service and your kidney stones. A medical professional summarizes your time in service and the conditions you had to deal with: a high-protein diet necessary to maintain your physical condition, the development of diabetes due to your time in service, or chemical exposure that increased the risk of kidney stones. The letter lays out the connection to kidney stones for the VA and can be helpful in obtaining approval for your claim.
A compensation and pension exam, also known as a C&P exam, evaluates your physical condition and allows the VA to evaluate your disability rating. Because kidney stones do not always show up at the time of an exam, the VA often uses past medical records to evaluate the limitations and challenges caused by kidney stones. However, a C&P exam can help show related conditions.
If you need help filing for VA disability compensation, Veterans Guide can help. Contact us to learn more about your right to compensation for kidney stones or other disabilities associated with past service.
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