Digestive disorders involve a variety of diseases that affect the primary or accessory organs that aid in digestion, including stomach cancer, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and many more. It is important to note that while a single condition can affect several parts of the digestive system, it can only be rated once. A veteran with the same symptoms in their stomach and large intestine cannot receive separate ratings for each affected organ.
Some digestive disorders are presumptively due to service if they become at least 10% disabling within one year after discharge. These conditions include:
- Gallstones, which can cause severe pain in the gall bladder. These are typically rated between 0% and 30% disabling, depending on the severity and frequency of pain and other symptoms.
- Cirrhosis of the liver. This condition can be rated at up to 100%, depending on the severity of symptoms such as weakness, significant weight loss, continuous jaundice, and swelling or bleeding in the abdomen.
- Gastric ulcers, which occur in the stomach, and duodenal ulcers, which occur in the small intestine. These types of ulcers can be rated at up to 60%, depending on the severity of symptoms.
Gulf War Veterans are eligible for presumptive service connection for some functional gastrointestinal disorders, which are classified as medically unexplained illnesses. The VA specifically lists IBS, functional dyspepsia, and functional abdominal pain syndrome as conditions that qualify as medically unexplained illnesses. Veterans that served in the Southwest Asia Theater of operations and have illnesses that appear before December 31, 2021, and that are at least 10% disabling, will receive presumptive service connection.
Gulf War Veterans that have other digestive symptoms should also consider applying for VA disability benefits. Any chronic multi symptom illness that has persisted for six months or more could qualify a veteran for presumptive service connection, and digestive symptoms may contribute to these types of illnesses.
Former prisoners of war can also receive presumption service connection for chronic dysentery, peptic ulcers, cirrhosis of the liver, and IBS. Other veterans with digestive disorders will be required to provide proof of a medical nexus between service and their diagnosis in order to qualify for VA benefits.
If you need assistance with a disability compensation appeal, contact Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our veterans law practitioners have over 25 years of experience working with veterans. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a no-cost case evaluation.