Bladder cancer is a condition affecting many veterans across the United States. Veterans can receive disability compensation from the VA if their service-connected bladder cancer is currently active, or if the residuals resulting from it are relatively severe.
How does VA rate active bladder cancer?
For veterans suffering from an active form of bladder cancer, or those in a period of post-treatment convalescence, VA will assign a temporary and total disability rating. While receiving “x-ray, antineoplastic chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedures” for bladder cancer, VA will assign veterans a temporary 100% disability rating for up to six months following the end of treatment.
If a veteran’s bladder cancer remains active, the VA will extend their temporary and total disability rating until the cancer goes into remission. Once veterans stop receiving treatment due to remission, VA will schedule a follow-up Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam in order to reevaluate the condition. The rating schedule for active bladder cancer can be found in 38 CFR § 4.115b Diagnostic Code 7528, “malignant neoplasms of the genitourinary system.”
How does VA rate residuals of bladder cancer?
Once a veteran’s bladder cancer is treated and reevaluated by VA, they may still receive disability compensation for residual symptoms. If the bladder cancer is in remission, VA will rate the most predominant residual, either renal (kidney) dysfunction or voiding dysfunction. Renal Dysfunction, as a residual of bladder cancer, is rated by the VA at intervals of 0%, 30%, 60%, 80%, or 100%, based on severity. For example, if a veteran requires regular dialysis, he or she will likely be rated as 100% disabled. Conversely, if the Veteran’s residuals result in non-compensable , he or she will be rated at 0%. Kidney functionality is gauged using blood tests to measure blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels.
Voiding Dysfunction includes residuals such as urinary leakage, urinary frequency, and obstructed voiding.
- Urinary leakage is rated at 20%, 40%, or 60%, based upon the need for absorbent materials; the number of absorbent materials a veteran requires throughout the course of a day determines his or her disability rating.
- The rating for urinary frequency, 10%, 20%, or 40%, is dependent upon how often a veteran needs to empty the bladder throughout the day or night. For example, if a veteran must use the restroom at intervals less than one hour apart, or if he or she wakes up to use the restroom five or more times per night, VA’s rating schedule calls for a 40% disability rating.
- Obstructed voiding, where the body retains too much urine, is rated at 0%, 10% or30%. If a veteran requires “intermittent or continuous catheterization” to void the bladder, for example, the rating schedule calls for a 30% rating.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) may result as a secondary condition to bladder cancer. Veterans who experience ED as a result of their service-connected bladder cancer may qualify for a level of special monthly compensation, SMC(k), for loss of use of a creative organ.
Is bladder cancer a presumptive condition?
Bladder cancer is listed as one of the presumptive conditions for veterans exposed to contaminants in the water supply at Camp Lejeune. Veterans who developed bladder cancer after living at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River for at least 30 days (consecutively nor nonconsecutively) between August 1953 and December 1987 may be presumptively service-connected for their bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer is not on the list of presumptive conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure as of now, March 2018, but it has been proposed in the past. Stay tuned for the possibility of this condition being added to this presumptive list.