Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of conditions, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, that affect how your body uses blood sugar, also known as glucose. Diabetes can affect many different organs, including the heart, eyes, and kidneys. Symptoms of diabetes can vary, but often include extreme thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and blurred vision. Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 and is more common among people over 40.
The cause of diabetes is only partially understood, but it is believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role. Being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Over 431,000 veterans receive disability benefits for diabetes, as of the 2015 fiscal year.
It may seem difficult to prove that your diabetes is connected to your military service because the cause of this disease is not fully understood. However, there are some circumstances where a veteran will receive a presumptive service connection for diabetes.
Presumptive Service-Connection for Diabetes Mellitus, type II
If your type 2 diabetes became at least 10 percent disabling within one year of discharge from the military, you may be eligible for presumptive service-connection. You will only need to provide evidence that your condition manifested within one year of discharge and that it is at least 10 percent disabling.
Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orangein Vietnam also receive a presumption service-connection for type 2 diabetes, along with many other diseases. The diabetes can manifest at any time, even years after discharge from military service.
Diabetes does not qualify as a medically unexplained illness for Gulf War veterans, because the cause is partially understood.
Diabetes will be assigned a rating based on the severity of symptoms, varying from a 10 percent rating to a 100 percent rating. A 100 percent rating would require insulin injections more than once a day, a restricted diet and low activity level, three or more hospitalizations per year or a weekly visit to a care provider, and continuous weight loss and weakness. A 10 percent rating would be assigned when diabetes can be managed by a restricted diet alone. Ratings of 20, 40, and 60 percent can also be assigned based on the severity of symptoms.
If you need assistance with your appeal, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our veterans law practitioners have experience with every aspect of the appeals process. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a no-cost case evaluation.