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Asthma VA Rating: Maximize Your Benefits

The VA recognizes asthma as a service-connected disability and has established disability ratings for it. These VA disability ratings are 10 percent, 30 percent, 60 percent, and 100 percent. Your asthma disability benefits will depend on your disability rating, which in turn the VA will assign to you based on how severe your asthma symptoms are.

If you are suffering from asthma symptoms that you believe were caused during your time in service, then the VA disability attorneys at Stone Rose Law are here to help you. Call us at (480) 498-8998 to speak with one of our VA disability benefits specialists in a free initial consultation.

How Does the VA Assign Disability Ratings for Asthma?

The VA determines the effects of asthma on your respiratory system using the pulmonary functions test, which measures a three different factors.

  • Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV-1) Test. Measures how much air you can forcibly exhale in one second.
  • Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) Test. Measures how much air you can forcibly exhale after taking the deepest breath you can.
  • Diffusing Capacity of Lungs for Carbon Monoxide (DLCO) Test. Tests the lungs’ ability to transfer gas from inhaled air to the bloodstream.

Here are some of the ways the VA distinguishes among the different VA ratings for asthma effects.

  • 10 Percent disability rating. FEV-1 or FVC 71-80%. At this rating level, you experience occasional symptoms of asthma attacks that you can manage by using an inhaler or a bronchodilator.
  • 30 Percent disability rating. FEV-1 or FVC 65-70%. At this level, you experience mild-to-moderate asthma problems. Compared to the 10 percent rating, your use of an inhaler or bronchodilator is now daily instead of occasional.
  • 60 Percent disability rating. FEV-1 or FVC of 40-55%. Your asthma episodes occur regularly and can require at least monthly visits to urgent or emergency care. Instead of an inhalational anti-inflammatory medication or oral bronchodilator therapy, treatment for symptoms now includes oral or injection-based corticosteroids or immuno-suppressive medications three times every year.
  • 100 Percent disability rating. FEV-1 or FVC less than 40%. At this level, you experience severe breathing difficulties which can be serious enough to lead to life-threatening respiratory failure and require you to treat the asthma condition with daily oral or injection-based corticosteroids or immuno-suppressive medications.

VA Rating for Asthma: Basic Eligibility Criteria

VA ratings for asthma effects

Proving an asthma disability for VA disability compensation purposes is the same as for disabilities generally.

  1. First, you must have medical evidence supporting a current medical diagnosis for asthma.
  2. The asthma condition must have a foundation in an in-service event.
  3. You will need to establish a link, or a medical nexus letter, between your current diagnosis for asthma and the in-service event. This is also known as establishing a service connection.

Possible Persian Gulf Service Presumptive Rating for Asthma

If you served in the Persian Gulf or some other places in Southwest Asia and developed asthma within one year of your discharge from military service, then you may be eligible to qualify for a presumptive service connection.

Causes of Asthma

The exact causes of asthma are not clearly known. Some people can be more susceptible to asthma by genetics. Others may be more sensitive to environmental factors like air pollution.

causes of asthma

Here are some factors that can increase your risk of developing asthma:

  • Allergy conditions, including hay fever, eczema, and food allergies.
  • Exposure to asthma-inducing conditions or substances through your occupation. These can include dust, chemicals, latex, and animal exposure.
  • Having a family history of asthma.
  • Having experienced bronchiolitis or tobacco smoke in childhood.
  • Exposure to tobacco while in the womb, or being born prematurely, or being born with a low birth weight.

Asthma Triggers

asthma triggers

Aside from underlying causes, you can experience asthma effects by exposure to places, substances, and conditions that make it more likely that your asthma will flare up. Some of these triggers include:

  • Respiratory virus infections, like cold or flu
  • Allergy attacks
  • Exposure to smoke or other air pollutants
  • Moldy or damp environments
  • Sudden changes in weather conditions
  • Taking certain medications, like aspirin, ibuprofen, and some anti-inflammatories
  • Emotions of stress, or laughter

Prevalence of Asthma in Veterans

Medical studies suggest that military personnel are significantly more likely to develop asthma than members of the public. The incidence of asthma in military service members and veterans who deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan is greater than that for veterans as a whole, tripling from what it was in 2003.

  • Women in the service are more likely to develop new-onset asthma than men.
  • The older the servicemember, the more likely that person will develop asthma.
  • Army and Navy personnel are more likely to suffer from asthma. Enlisted personnel are more at risk than officers.
  • Personnel whose assignments included working with chemicals like paints, pesticides, and solvents are more at risk.

Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma signs can include any of the following manifestations:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest tightening.
  • Chest pain.
  • Wheezing and coughing.
  • Trouble sleeping.

Asthma and Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder similar to asthma in that it can obstruct airflow through your airways. It is also a disability that the VA recognizes as either a primary or secondary service-connected condition.

Some scientific data indicates that sleep apnea is an independent risk factor in making asthma conditions worse, leading to increased nocturnal asthma symptoms and intensification of asthma symptoms. 

If you suffer from both asthma and sleep apnea, an experienced VA disability benefits lawyer can help you understand how these two conditions may relate to each other as secondary service conditions and as part of a combined disability rating.

If you know your disability ratings for asthma and sleep apnea, you can use our VA disability calculator to get an estimate of how much you might be eligible for in monthly disability benefits.

VA Asthma Compensation & Pension Exam

After you make a claim for asthma benefits, the VA can require you to undergo a compensation and pension (C&P) examination. The VA uses this exam in combination with other information including your service records and medical records to secure additional information it needs to decide upon what disability rating to assign or whether to deny your claim.

When you are preparing for your C&P exam, your doctor will fill out the disability rating questionnaire for respiratory conditions other than tuberculosis and sleep apnea. Your doctor may have this form, or you can download it from the VA website.

Asthma and Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

If your asthma condition keeps you from being able to obtain or to keep substantially gainful employment and is at a high enough disability rating by itself or in combination with other disability ratings, then you might qualify for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits.

What TDIU does for you is to qualify you to receive the same disability benefits as a person the VA assigns a 100 percent or total disability asthma rating to.

There are two ways you can qualify for TDIU with an asthma disability. The first is if your asthma VA disability rating is at least 60 percent. The second is if your asthma disability is one of multiple ratings, one of which must be at least 40 percent, taken together to reach at least a 70 percent combined disability rating.

Burn Pits, Asthma, and the PACT Act

One way that the military has used to dispose of many kinds of waste products and materials has been to burn them, often in large burn pits. One side effect of this practice has been to expose service personnel to many kinds of toxic substances released by the burning process, and sometimes this exposure has led to veterans developing asthma.

Under the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, the VA now applies presumptive disability benefits eligibility for many conditions connected with burn pit exposure, including asthma.

To be eligible for presumptive disability benefits under the PACT Act, you must have served in one of many specific countries the VA identifies. For some of these countries, your service in them can date back as far as August of 1990; for others, the reach-back date is September 11, 2001. Vietnam veterans may also be eligible.

What if I Am Denied Benefits for Asthma?

The VA rejects many initial claims, up to one-third by some estimates. This is often because of missing information or errors in the disability benefits application. At other times, however, the VA itself can make mistakes that can lead to a claim denial.

If this happens, you can appeal the denial to the VA. When making such an appeal, it is a good idea to have an experienced VA disability benefits appeal lawyer to help you understand the reasons for the denial, gather additional evidence to support your claim, prepare counter-arguments to the denial, and help you file your claim.

Your VA Asthma Disability Claim Advocates

At Stone Rose Law, we support veterans like you with asthma-related VA disability claims no matter what stage you are at: making your first claim, making a supplemental claim, or appealing a claim denial.

We will help you to prepare an initial or supplemental claim at no cost to you. If you need help appealing a VA disability claim denial, we can help you on a contingency basis – there is no fee unless you win your appeal. If we win on your behalf, we only collect a one-time fee from your asthma compensation back pay. You keep all your monthly disability and other VA benefits.

Our expert VA Disability Lawyers know how to handle these cases. We have successfully represented clients just like you, recovering tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid VA disability benefits related to asthma.

Contact one of our VA disability attorneys at Stone Rose Law Firm for a free consultation. Call us today at (480) 498-8998, or reach us online.