Asthma, also called bronchial asthma, is a respiratory condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed, making it difficult to breath. When the airways become inflamed and narrow, some people my cough, wheeze, or experience shortness of breath. Severity ranges from person-to-person and can be minor or very severe.
How Do I Get Service Connected for Asthma?
In most cases, veterans seeking service connection for asthma must show three things:
- A current medical diagnosis for asthma from a qualified professional;
- An in-service event, injury, or symptom;
- A medical “nexus,” or link, between their asthma diagnosis and the in-service occurrence.
How Does VA Rate Asthma?
VA disability ratings are meant to compensate veterans for the loss of earning capacity due to their service-connected condition. The VA rates asthma based off the following:
- Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV-1). FEV-1 is the amount of air you can exhale forcefully in one second. VA compares this against what a normal person would be able to breath out, and measures it as a percentage.
- Forced Vital Capacity (FVC). VA compares a veteran’s FEV-1 results with their FCV in a FEV-1/FCV ratio. The ratio is meant to represent the proportion of a person’s vital capacity that they are able to expel in the first second of a forceful exhale. Vital capacity is the maximum amount of air that a person who can inhale or exhale from the lung.
VA looks at additional information to determine severity depending on the rating. Additionally, the VA will base the ratings off of findings during an asthma attack. If a veteran is not having an attack during a VA examination, there must be a history of attacks in the record for the VA to consider. VA rates asthma under 38 C.F.R. 4.97, diagnostic code 6602. Ratings range from 0 percent to 100 percent.
For the 10 percent rating, a veteran must show one of the following:
- FEV-1 of 71 to 80% predicted;
- FEV-1/FVC of 71 to 80%;
- Intermittent inhalational or oral bronchodilator therapy.
For the 30 percent rating, a veteran must have:
- FEV-1 of 56 to 70% predicted; or
- FEV-1/FVC of 56 to 70%; or
- Daily inhalational or oral bronchodilator therapy; or
- Inhalational anti-inflammatory medication.
To qualify for the 60 percent rating, a veteran must have:
- FEV-1 of 40 to 55% predicted; or
- FEV-1/FVC of 40 to 55%; or
- At least monthly visits to a physician for required care of exacerbations; or
- Intermittent (at least three per year) courses of systemic (oral or parenteral) corticosteroids.
Finally, the 100 percent rating requires that a veteran show:
- FEV-1 less than 40% predicted; or
- FEV-1/FVC less than 40%; or
- More than one attack per week with episodes of respiratory failure; or
- Require daily use of systemic (oral or parenteral) high dose corticosteroids or immunosuppressive medications.