What is GERD?
According to the National Library of Medicine, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders as it effects between 18.1% to 27.8% of the population in the United States. GERD is a gastrointestinal condition characterized by stomach acid regularly moving up into the esophagus. The most common symptoms of GERD often include heartburn, regurgitation, and indigestion. GERD can also lead to additional medical conditions such as esophagitis, asthma, ulcerations/bleeding, regurgitation of acid into the lungs, and Barrett’s esophagus.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- Chest pain or shoulder pain separate from the burning sensation of heartburn
- Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
- Change in diet or weight
- Increased discomfort when lying down
- Difficulty breathing
Direct Service Connection
A veteran may achieve direct service connection for GERD by obtaining the following three pieces of evidence:
- A current medical diagnosis
- An event, injury, or illness that occurred during the veteran’s time in the service which led to the development of GERD or further aggravated an existing diagnosis
- A medical nexus opinion illustrating the link between the veteran’s GERD and their time in service
While the medical nexus opinion may be established by an examiner during a compensation and pension exam, it may be useful to collect additional medical evidence in the form of a private medical evaluation. For more information on private medical opinions, please see this post on our website.
Secondary Service Connection
Secondary service connection is a term used within the VA disability system to describe how the VA compensates medical conditions that occur as a result of or due to aggravation by a service-connected condition.
If a veteran is not able to prove direct service connection for GERD, they may be able to achieve secondary service connection for GERD by proving that another one of their service-connected conditions at least as likely as not caused the development or aggravation of their GERD. For example, if a veteran has anxiety and GERD, their GERD could potentially be established as a service-connected condition secondary to anxiety.
Conditions that are known to cause or aggravate GERD include, but are not limited to the following:
-Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
If a veteran has direct service connection for GERD but also has other conditions such as asthma,
erosive esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, sinusitis, or other probable conditions, then they may
want to seek an evaluation as to whether their condition may have been caused by
How The VA Rates GERD
Under 38 CFR § 4.114, the VA evaluates GERD using the disability rating schedule for digestive conditions. As GERD does not have its own diagnostic code, it is most often rated analogously with Hiatal Hernias. Hiatal Hernias and their analogous conditions are rated between 10 and 60 percent disabling.
Diagnostic Code 7346: Hernia Hiatal
- 60 – Symptoms of pain, vomiting, material weight loss and hematemesis or melena with moderate anemia; or other symptom combinations productive of severe impairment of health
- 30 – Persistently recurrent epigastric distress with dysphagia, pyrosis, and regurgitation, accompanied by substernal or arm or shoulder pain, productive of considerable impairment of health
- 10 – With two or more of the symptoms for the 30 percent evaluation of less severity
Contact The Veteran’s Law Office About Your GERD Claim
If you are a veteran and believe that you are entitled to compensation for GERD, please contact our office for a free evaluation. Our team has extensive experience representing veterans with GERD and is ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.