What Is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (similar to ulcerative colitis) that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Crohn’s disease can occur in different sections of the bowel depending on the person, but is painful and debilitating in nearly all cases. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but long-term management is possible with the use of medical therapies that can greatly reduce the presence of symptoms associated with the disease.
Some of the most common symptoms for Crohn’s disease are:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Mouth sores
- Unexplained weight loss
- Reduced appetite
- Kidney stones
- Iron deficiency (anemia)
Many individuals who have Crohn’s experience these symptoms. As mentioned previously, many of these symptoms are manageable through medical intervention. It is important that if someone suspects they may have Crohn’s disease that he or she sees a doctor right away. In some cases, Crohn’s disease can lead to life-threatening complications, so getting an early diagnosis and beginning treatment as soon as possible is crucial for managing this condition.
Getting Service Connection For Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a serious condition that can have substantial impacts on an individuals life and well-being. In severe cases of Crohn’s, some individuals experience pain and digestive issues that are so debilitating they are unable to work. Due to the variable severity of this condition and the number of veterans it affects, the VA has made disability benefits available to those with Crohn’s disease.
In order to get service connected for this condition, veterans will need to provide evidence showing that (1) the condition was caused by their military service or (2) the condition was caused by one of their other service-connected impairments. By far the most important evidence veterans can provide to prove service connection for Crohn’s disease is medical records. Medical records can help the VA establish not only the severity of the disease but also the likely cause of it and a timeline of treatment. If the condition started to present in service, even if a formal diagnosis was not given until after discharge, the claim for service connection is still viable. Additionally, if the condition shows a causal relationship to one of the veteran’s other service connected conditions, the veteran could get secondary service connection because his or her Crohn’s is a complication of another condition that was caused by military service.
Additional evidence that could help veterans with Crohn’s disease get service connection for their condition includes service personnel records. This type of evidence could help establish service connection for Crohn’s if the veteran has records of poor performance evaluations (due to physical issues caused by his or her Crohn’s symptoms) or any requests for a change of assignment because his or her Crohn’s symptoms meant he or she had to be close to a bathroom at all times.
How Does The VA Rate Crohn’s Disease
Under 38 CFR § 4.114, the VA rates Crohn’s disease as follows:
Diagnostic Code 7323: Colitis, ulcerative
- 100 – Pronounced; resulting in marked malnutrition, anemia, and general debility, or with serious complication as liver abscess
- 60 – Severe; with numerous attacks a year and malnutrition, the health only fair during remissions
- 30 – Moderately severe; with frequent exacerbations
- 10 – Moderate; with infrequent exacerbations
Veterans who cannot work due to their Crohn’s but who only received a 10, 30, or 60 percent schedular disability rating for their Crohn’s disease may be eligible for a total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) rating. A TDIU rating would allow the veteran to receive VA disability benefits at the 100 percent rate, despite having a total combined schedular disability rating of less than 100 percent.
Get Help With Your VA Claim For Crohn’s Disease
If you are a veteran looking for assistance with your Crohn’s disease claim, please contact our office today. Our veterans disability attorneys have experience getting veterans with Crohn’s disease service connection for their condition and are ready to help.