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Monday, January 12, 2015

What’s in a name? - What You Call a Condition Could Mean the Difference Between Having a VA Claim Accepted or Denied

I want to discuss something that is a fairly common factor in claims that are denied by the VA: the condition’s name.

Believe it or not, what you call a condition on your VA Disability Claim plays a very significant role in whether or not the VA will give it a VA Disability Rating.

When deciding what to call your conditions on your claim, it’s important to remember that each condition must be service-connected in order for it to qualify for VA Disability.  This basically means that it was either diagnosed while in the military or can be directly tied to your time in the military.

If you try to submit a claim for something that has no clear ties to your military career, the VA will deny your claim. They have every right to. VA Disability is only meant to help compensate for conditions that were directly caused by military service.

Now if you submit a claim for a condition you believe was caused by the military, but there is no proof, it will still be denied. The VA isn’t going to find the proof for you. You have to prove that every condition is service-connected. This can sometimes be a bit frustrating, but one definite solution that very few vets think of is renaming the condition you are applying for. 

This does NOT mean applying for a condition you do not have or trying to lie about your situation. Just don’t get caught up on a single name for your condition, especially if you just think it sounds more serious or just plain cooler. Sometimes something more simple will get you much farther.

I think the best way to explain what I mean is with the following example.

We were recently contacted by a veteran whose claim had been denied by the VA for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a pretty serious respiratory condition.

While in the military, he was diagnosed with chronic bronchitis and a host of other more minor respiratory conditions. It wasn’t until after he left the military that he was officially diagnosed with COPD. Chronic bronchitis and many of the other respiratory conditions he had in the military are common symptoms of COPD, so the vet and his physicians assumed that his COPD was just a development of his service-connected respiratory conditions, and so would definitely be ratable.

Unfortunately not. It may seem logical, and many physicians might claim that it is connected, but technically, while chronic bronchitis is a symptom of COPD, it can be argued that you can have chronic bronchitis without having COPD. Many will argue it’s the same, but chronic bronchitis does not automatically equal COPD. These are the type of technicalities the VA can and will use to refuse claims.

So what can the vet do? Is he doomed to never get the compensation he feels he deserves, and in this case probably does? This is where a knowledge of the VASRD can come in REALLY handy and why we’ve made all this information available to everyone on our website, www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com.

So, okay, claiming COPD doesn’t work since it isn’t officially service-connected. Let’s explore the other options for rating conditions of the Respiratory System. COPD is an Obstructive Lung Disease, so if we look under this category, we find that all obstructive lung diseases are rated on the Respiratory Rating System. COPD is rated under code 6604, but we’ll notice as we look at this section that Chronic Bronchitis is also listed here under code 6600.

So what do we know?
  • All conditions in this section are rated using the exact same rating criteria: the Respiratory Rating System.
  • Both COPD and Chronic Bronchitis are in this section.
  • Chronic Bronchitis was diagnosed while the vet was in the military.

What does this mean?

Chronic Bronchitis is service-connected, will definitely be rated by the VA, and will receive the exact same rating that COPD would have since it is rated using the same criteria. Thus, the easiest solution to the vet’s problem is to ignore the diagnosis of COPD altogether and instead submit a claim for chronic bronchitis.

COPD sounds cooler and is in essence a more mature form of chronic bronchitis, but in this case, chronic bronchitis will get the job done.

Don’t get hung up on a name.


Take the time before you submit a claim to fully research your conditions on our site. We’ve provided all the information you need to figure out the best way to prepare your claim to get you the maximum benefits you deserve. It will take a bit of effort at the beginning, but it will be time well spent.

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