Psoriasis VA Rating
If your time in the military caused or worsened your psoriasis, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. The VA will determine how much to pay you based on your VA rating for psoriasis, which is calculated based on how much the condition affects your quality of life. Veterans Guide is here to help you know what to expect before you apply.
Psoriasis can be incredibly debilitating, causing pain and discomfort that prevents you from enjoying life to its fullest. If your psoriasis was caused or worsened by your military service, you could be eligible for disability compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Before you apply for benefits, it’s a good idea to understand how the VA will assess your claim. One of the most critical aspects of this process is the VA’s disability rating. The legal professionals at Veterans Guide can guide you through how the VA determines your disability rating for psoriasis so you can move forward confidently.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disease caused by an overactive immune system. The skin cells of people with psoriasis multiply faster than usual, making patches of the skin scaly and inflamed. Psoriasis patches can appear on any part of the skin but are most common on the knees, elbows, and scalp.
More than 7.5 million adults in the United States have psoriasis. This includes many military veterans. Psoriasis is not contagious—it is a chronic disease without a known cure, but affected veterans can live a rewarding life with proper treatment.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Common symptoms of psoriasis include:
Psoriasis symptoms tend to go through cycles of flares lasting several weeks or months before subsiding or going into remission. Certain factors may trigger a new flare. Other times, flares occur with no apparent cause.
How Does Military Service Cause Psoriasis?
Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors plays a role in developing psoriasis. Genetics can predispose a person to develop psoriasis, while exposure to certain environmental factors can trigger psoriasis to appear. Potential psoriasis triggers in susceptible individuals include:
Exposure to certain chemicals can also trigger psoriasis. When a veteran with a genetic predisposition to psoriasis gets exposed to toxic chemicals and environmental hazards during their military service, they may be more likely to develop the condition.
Psoriasis Due to Agent Orange Exposure
One service-related chemical possibly linked to psoriasis in veterans is Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a tactical herbicide that the U.S. military sprayed during the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1971. Up to 3.8 million U.S. military personnel served in Vietnam during this period and were possibly exposed to the chemical. Many more veterans were exposed to
Agent Orange in other military settings.
Agent Orange contains dioxin, a chemical that can damage or destroy organs, cells, hormones, and the immune system. The chemical’s destructive effects on the immune system could explain the possible link between psoriasis—an immune system disorder—and Agent Orange exposure.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs offers monthly tax-free disability compensation payments to veterans with health conditions caused by Agent Orange exposure. To qualify for benefits, you must have a health condition caused by exposure to Agent Orange and served in a location that exposed you to the chemical.
The VA determines eligibility for these benefits on a case-by-case basis. However, it presumes Agent Orange causes certain conditions, and veterans who served in certain locations were exposed to Agent Orange. Presumptive diseases from Agent Orange exposure include the following:
Under the new PACT Act, high blood pressure and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance are now also classified as Agent Orange presumptive diseases. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 also expanded the criteria for service locations with presumed Agent Orange exposure to include veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
The VA does not presume any specific service-related factor causes psoriasis. It is not among the conditions presumptively linked to Agent Orange exposure. However, you may still qualify for VA disability compensation for service-related psoriasis with strong medical evidence.
How To Establish a Service-Related Connection to Psoriasis
Whether or not you had exposure to Agent Orange, you must show that your psoriasis is connected to a service-related event to qualify for VA disability compensation. You may qualify for benefits if you developed new-onset psoriasis from your service or if your service caused your existing psoriasis to worsen.
Because psoriasis has many potential causes, you must demonstrate a medical correlation linking your current psoriasis to a specific in-service event, injury, or illness. If your evidence shows it’s more likely than not that your service caused your psoriasis to develop or worsen, you’ll have a good chance of approval.
What Are the Different Types of Psoriasis?
There are various types of psoriasis, each varying in severity. The type of psoriasis you have may play a role in determining your VA rating for psoriasis.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, characterized by the appearance of raised red skin patches covered by silvery scales. These patches typically appear in a symmetrical pattern on the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.
Guttate psoriasis typically affects young adults and children. It involves the appearance of small red dots on the limbs or torso. Infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections like strep throat, often trigger it.
Inverse psoriasis is characterized by the appearance of smooth red patches in areas of the body where skin folds, such as the groin, armpits, or beneath the breasts. Factors like sweating or rubbing can worsen it.
Pustular psoriasis involves the development of pus-filled bumps, called pustules, surrounded by red skin. This type of psoriasis usually affects the hands and feet and may be triggered by stress, medications, infections, or exposure to certain chemicals.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the rarest type and can be quite severe. Affected individuals have red, scaly skin that covers most of the body. Potential triggers include serious sunburns or exposure to certain medications, such as corticosteroids. This type of psoriasis often develops from other types of psoriasis when they aren’t well controlled.
How Does the VA Rate Psoriasis?
When you apply for disability benefits, the VA will assign you a disability rating to assess whether you qualify for disability compensation benefits and how much compensation you’ll receive each month. This rating is a percentage that represents the extent to which your disability decreases your health and day-to-day functioning.
VA Rating Schedule for Psoriasis
The VA has a specific rating system for skin conditions, 38 CFR § 4.118, with various diagnostic codes for conditions like psoriasis and eczema. The diagnostic code for psoriasis is 7816. Psoriasis may be rated as scars or disfigurement or under the basic rating system. If your psoriasis leads to any complications, the VA will rate them separately from your psoriasis.
Many skin conditions are rated based on the amount of affected skin. They will either calculate the affected surface area in square inches or estimate the percentage of affected skin. If your psoriasis affects your head, face, or neck, the VA will base its psoriasis rating on the number of affected facial features rather than size.
The VA’s General Rating Formula for the Skin assigns a rating of 60 percent, 30 percent, 10 percent, and zero percent to most skin conditions. The higher your rating, the more significant the VA thinks your condition is. If your psoriasis affects more than 40 percent of your body, your rating would be 60 percent. If 20 to 40 percent of your skin is affected, your VA rating for psoriasis would be 30 percent.
Psoriasis as a Secondary Disability
Psoriasis may cause or worsen other conditions. It may also be caused or aggravated by another condition. Conditions possibly linked to psoriasis include:
If you have one or more of these conditions in addition to psoriasis, you may have a higher disability rating than you otherwise would’ve had with only psoriasis. However, you must still be able to show that the conditions are related to your military service. This may involve showing each condition’s service link or showing how one service-related condition connects to another.
How To Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Psoriasis
The following are the general steps involved in obtaining VA disability compensation for psoriasis:
- Submit an intent to file a claim with the VA.
- Collect medical information connecting your psoriasis to your military service.
- Submit a claim with your medical information and any other situation-specific forms as necessary.
- If requested, undergo a compensation and pension exam with the VA.
- Wait for a response from the VA. This step could take four months or more.
If you have any questions about the process, contact Veterans Guide. One of our legal professionals can provide a free case evaluation and help you determine the best course of action for receiving VA disability benefits for your service-related psoriasis.
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