Veterans (VA) Disability Benefits for Hemorrhoids
What Are Hemorrhoids?
A hemorrhoid is an irritated clump of swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum, similar to varicose veins.
There are two main types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum and rarely cause discomfort as they usually cannot be seen or felt. However, straining or irritation when passing stool can damage a hemorrhoid’s surface and cause it to bleed. External hemorrhoids are those under the skin around the anus. When irritated, external hemorrhoids can itch or bleed.
Hemorrhoids are very common, affecting nearly three out of four adults on occasion. Signs and symptoms of the condition generally include the following:
- Painless bleeding during bowel movements
- Itching or irritation in the anal region
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling around the anus
This condition is often easy to diagnose and treat. Treatments typically involve eating high-fiber foods, using topical ointments, applying cold compresses, and taking oral pain relievers. While there are a number of causes, including straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, or a low-fiber diet, it is also possible for hemorrhoids to be related to military service. Therefore, veterans may be eligible to receive VA disability benefits for their hemorrhoids.
Establishing Service Connection for Hemorrhoids
To receive VA disability compensation for hemorrhoids, veterans must first establish service connection for the condition. Specifically, veterans must show VA that their hemorrhoids were incurred during or aggravated by their military service. This involves providing evidence of these three elements:
- An in-service event, injury, or illness;
- A current diagnosis of a disabling condition by a medical professional; and
- A nexus, or link, between the in-service event and current disability.
To prove service connection for hemorrhoids, veterans will need to provide a positive medical nexus opinion linking the hemorrhoids to their service, or VA may schedule the veteran for a compensation and pension (C&P) exam for hemorrhoids to fulfill this element.
Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam for Hemorrhoids
VA typically requests a C&P exam for any veteran who files a claim. The purpose of the exam is to evaluate the veteran’s claimed condition and determine if service connection is warranted. During the exam, the examiner will also collect evidence to assign a rating if service connected is granted.
The VA examiner may physically examine the veteran or ask questions about the veteran’s service, disability, and the connection between the two. It can be helpful for veterans being evaluated for hemorrhoids to be prepared to talk about their symptoms and how it affects their day-to-day life.
The language a C&P examiner uses is very significant. To support a veteran’s claim, the examiner can state that their condition is “at least likely as not” caused by their service. Essentially, this means that there is at least a 50 percent chance that veteran’s condition is due to an in-service event. Otherwise, the examiner may determine that the disability is “less likely than not” connected to service, which can be a challenging opinion to overcome.
If the VA examiner provides an unfavorable opinion regarding service connection for hemorrhoids, it can be beneficial to obtain a private medical opinion to refute the examiner’s report. Seeking advice from an accredited representative can also be helpful in this situation.
VA Rating for Hemorrhoids
Once service connection is granted, VA will assign a disability rating based on the severity of the condition. VA rates hemorrhoids under 38 CFR § 4.114, Schedule of Ratings – Digestive System, Diagnostic Code 7336. The hemorrhoids VA rating criteria are as follows:
- 20 percent – with persistent bleeding and with secondary anemia, or with fissures
- 10 percent –large or thrombotic, irreducible, with excessive redundant tissue, evidencing frequent recurrences
- 0 percent –mild or moderate
Although 20 percent is the highest schedular rating for hemorrhoids, veterans may be entitled to receive an extraschedular rating if they can demonstrate that their condition is more severe than reflected in the rating criteria. This typically happens when a veteran experiences symptoms or limitations not considered by the rating schedule. VA will then determine if the veteran is eligible for a hemorrhoids VA rating higher than 20 percent.
Option to Decrease Federal Spending: Eliminating Disability Compensation for Hemorrhoids
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) periodically issues a volume of options that would decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues over the next decade. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effect on the budget but makes no recommendations. In December 2016, CBO released its report, Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017 to 2026. Within this installment, CBO presented an option to narrow eligibility for veterans’ disability compensation by excluding certain disabilities unrelated to military duties.
CBO estimated that in 2015, VA paid 716,000 veterans a total of $3.7 billion to compensate for seven of the medical conditions that, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), military service is unlikely to cause or aggravate. Hemorrhoids was included as one of those seven conditions.
Under the option, veterans receiving compensation for hemorrhoids, or one of the other six conditions, would have their compensation reduced or eliminated. Furthermore, veterans who applied for compensation for those conditions in the future would not be eligible for it. CBO estimated that this option would reduce spending by $26 billion from 2018 to 2026.
However, this option was merely the result of research and data compiled by CBO. It is important to note that no action has been taken regarding veterans’ eligibility for VA disability compensation for hemorrhoids, and there is currently no indication that any action will be taken in the future.
Was Your VA Disability Hemorrhoids Claim Denied?
If you were denied VA disability for hemorrhoids, Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to help. Call CCK today at 800-544-9144 to schedule a free case review with a member of our team.
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