When someone thinks of veterans’ disability compensation or benefits, he may think that the benefits only apply to physical or psychological injuries sustained in war. However, a wide range of service-related illnesses and conditions may be covered if the veteran meets other conditions. One of these illnesses is diabetes.
Generally, diabetes can be compensable as a service-related illness depending on when the veteran began to exhibit symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms appear several years after the veteran separates from service, and this causes some difficulties in establishing a connection between diabetes and the veteran’s service.
Some veterans who served in the Vietnam War or were otherwise exposed to Agent Orange may have diagnosed conditions of diabetes mellitus, also known as type II diabetes, automatically presumed to be service connected if the veteran showed symptoms while still serving or within a year of separating from service. For the presumption to apply, the veteran’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability rating for diabetes must be at least ten percent. Others who do not fall within the category for automatic presumption can rely on their medical records to show when they began to exhibit symptoms of diabetes or sought and received medical treatment for the disease and then connect the timeline to their military service.
To receive benefits, the veteran will likely have to be examined by a VA doctor, who can give his opinion on the connection between the disease and the veteran’s service. Veterans diagnosed with diabetes within a year of discharge from active duty are generally encouraged to apply for benefits. Veterans can apply for benefits based on the illness itself, as well as complications related to the illness.
Diabetes is an illness that can sometimes affect a sufferer to such degrees that it results in amputations and other procedures and medication that may leave the person unable to work or carry on other activities. How a veteran treats or controls his diabetes affects his VA disability rating, ultimately determining how much the veteran will receive in benefits. Therefore, for example, if the person can control their diabetes with a medically approved diet and some medication, he may receive a lower VA rating and less benefits.
Veterans may still have another avenue for receiving benefits for diabetes through Social Security Disability benefits if the condition has lasted for more than twelve months and restricts the veteran’s ability to work. VA may apply for and receive VA benefits and SSDI benefits at the same time.
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You may qualify for medical and financial benefits if you are a veteran suffering from a service-related injury or illness. Veterans’ disability claims can be complicated and time-consuming, depending on your condition, and having an experienced veterans’ disability attorney can make a difference.