If you are seeking disability benefits from the SSA or VA, you will need to show a clear connection between your condition and your military service. Having the right lawyer can help make this easier.
A diet high in red meat and other purines raises uric acid levels, which can lead to gout. Obesity also increases the risk of developing gout.
The VA Rates Gout
Gout can cause severe, chronic pain and disability in many joints. The severity of your gout and its impact on your ability to work will determine how much the VA will rate it for disability compensation. Understanding the gout disability rating is crucial for veterans seeking compensation and support for this service-connected condition, as it determines the benefits they may receive.
Medications like angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers, and thiazide diuretics can increase uric acid levels, which leads to gout flare-ups. Obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease can also contribute to gout.
The VA uses a set of rules and guidelines to determine how disabling gout is. These are known as the Blue Book and help the VA to determine if you qualify for benefits.
After reviewing your paperwork, the VA will schedule you for a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. This exam will include a medical professional who will evaluate the severity of your gout and determine how it impacts your daily life. The medical professional will also examine how your gout is connected to your time in the service.
Gout as a Secondary Disability
Gout is often a secondary disability, meaning that it results from another medical condition. For example, a veteran might develop obesity as a result of depression brought on by long-term military stress and then suffer from gout as a result of the weight gain and the increased pressure on their joints.
Gout flare-ups must be documented, and their severity can affect your rating. The number of yearly bursts and their impact on daily activities is essential. In addition, evidence of chronic joint changes will also affect your rating.
At Step 2 of the claim process, a VA doctor will examine you to determine how your gout affects your ability to work and whether it meets or equals a medical “Listing.” Gout falls under Listing 1.03 as a significant dysfunction of a joint.
If you are denied disability compensation at Step 2, you can appeal. You can have more evidence submitted, attend hearings, and seek legal representation to help you with the appeal process.
Gout as a Primary Disability
Gout often causes flare-ups that last a few days or weeks, followed by remissions. The explosions can affect one joint at a time but may co-occur in numerous joints. The big toe is the site of most gout attacks, although it can also affect the ankle, knee, and hip joints.
To establish a primary service connection, it must be shown that gout was at least as likely as not caused by the Veteran’s military service. This step requires the assembly of medical evidence, including the completion of Activities of Daily Living and Vocational Questionnaires, as well as a Consultative Examination.
An experienced disability lawyer can help veterans gather the proper medical evidence and submit it properly in a claim for gout. This includes providing a detailed description of how gout flare-ups interfere with work and the effect of gout on sleep. They can also help veterans understand the requirements for a secondary service connection diagnosis, where a symptom of another condition is claimed as the cause of a separate disability.
Gout as a Secondary Service Connection
If you have a secondary service connection for gout, the disease was triggered by something that happened while you were serving. It can be a traumatic event, but it could also be something as simple as stress from military service.
The VA will assess your condition in terms of functional impairment, joint involvement, and the frequency and severity of flare-ups. The more severe the state, the higher your rating will be. Joint involvement includes the number of joints affected, the extent of damage or deformity, and the degree to which the joints restrict movement.
The frequency and severity of gout flare-ups are essential factors in determining the severity of your condition. The VA will look at how often you have outbreaks, their severity, and the duration of each episode. They will also consider your medication and its effectiveness in managing the condition. Studies have shown that administrative claims databases are accurate for gout-related visits, especially when they exclude telephone encounters and laboratory test-only appointments.