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Parkinson’s Disease and VA Disability Benefits

Parkinson’s Disease and VA Disability Benefits

What is Parkinson’s Disease (PD)?

Parkinson’s Disease is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by the death of dopamine producing cells in the brain.  This can affect movement and cognitive processes; most often Parkinson’s manifests as tremors in the upper and/or lower extremities.

What are common signs and symptoms of PD?

  • Tremors;
  • Delayed movement;
  • Rigidity;
  • Balance impairment;
  • Cognitive impairment, including dementia;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Problems swallowing;
  • Urinary incontinence or constipation;
  • Sleep disturbances.

How does the VA rate Parkinson’s Disease

The VA will rate Parkinson’s Disease at a minimum 30% if you have been diagnosed and show symptoms.  After that, the VA will rate you based on the presence and severity of symptoms, some of which are mentioned above.  This can depend on the severity of your Parkinson’s and its progression, and is done on a case-by-case basis.  It is important to note that no two manifestations of Parkinson’s Disease are exactly the same and veterans may be rated differently for their symptoms.

What Causes Parkinson’s in Veterans?

There are several possible causes of Parkinson’s in veterans, including exposure to contaminants and herbicides such as Agent Orange, exposure to burn pits, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinsonism, and Parkinsons-Like Syndromes are on the lists of presumptive conditions for Agent Orange exposure, and exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.

Parkinson’s can also present in veterans who were exposed to burn pits in the Southwest Asia Theater of Operations after 9/11/2001.  Additionally, veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury are at an increased risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease.

The causes of Parkinson’s Disease are generally unknown, and if you are a veteran with PD who has been denied service-connected disability benefits, contact our office for a free consultation.

Parkinson’s and Other Disabilities

It is not uncommon for veterans with Parkinson’s to be at a high risk of falling due to decreased muscle control.  If you fall and sustain an injury due to imbalance from your Parkinson’s Disease, you may be entitled to service connection for that injury as secondary to service-connected Parkinson’s Disease.

Veteran’s with Parkinson’s Disease can also develop depression and/or anxiety due to their condition.  If you are a veteran with service-connected Parkinson’s Disease and you have developed depression and/or anxiety, you may be entitled to service connection for those conditions.

Additionally, veterans with Parkinson’s Disease may be entitled to total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) if their PD impacts their ability to work.  They also may be eligible for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) due to the severity of their symptoms.

Category: Veterans Law

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