Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disorder that involves cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. IBS does not cause structural changes in the intestines or increase the risk of colon cancer, but it can cause debilitating pain and discomfort that for some is chronic.
The cause of IBS is not fully understood, but it is known that certain activities trigger symptoms. Certain types of food, stress, hormonal changes, or other illnesses can all trigger symptoms in people with IBS. Some people with IBS can control symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes, but others may require medication or other treatment.
Is service connection possible for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
First, a veteran should obtain a current diagnosis of IBS from their doctor. The Veteran should note both the frequency and severity of symptoms, because these will be used to determine their disability rating.
Once IBS has been diagnosed, the service member will have to prove that the disability is service-connected. There are two situations where the Veteran will receive a presumption of service-connection. Otherwise, the Veteran will have to provide proof that their IBS is connected to an event or injury that occurred during military service.
The first group of veterans that may obtain a presumptive service connection for IBS is Gulf War Veterans. These Veterans receive a presumption of service connection for chronic multi-symptom illnesses, and IBS is specifically included under this definition by the VA.
Gulf War Veterans who have experienced IBS for six months or more, and for which there is no intervening event unrelated to their military service that caused the IBS, should be granted service connection. Note that the VA sometimes mistakenly denies these claims when no proof of a specific event during service that caused the IBS is provided. If you are a Gulf War Veteran with diagnosed IBS and whose claim was denied due to lack of nexus to service, you should consider appealing your claim denial.
Prisoners of War who were captive for 30 days or more are also eligible for presumptive service connection for IBS. . Veterans who do not qualify for presumptive service connection must provide evidence connecting their disability to their military service, either as a primary or secondary service-connected disability.
IBS will typically be rated between 0% and 30% disabling, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
The attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick have over 25 years of experience helping veterans get the benefits they deserve. Call our office at 401-331-6300 to receive your no-cost case consultation.