Was Your VA Disability Claim for Bronchitis Denied?

Veterans are entitled to disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if they become sick or were injured while serving in the military. A veteran is also entitled to benefits if their military service made an existing condition worse. Bronchitis is an illness that qualifies for VA disability benefits. Read on to understand recovery of VA disability benefits for bronchitis.

Chronic bronchitis is a serious respiratory condition that can cause difficulty breathing, a painful cough, and tightness of the chest. Bronchitis occurs when the windpipe lining is irritated, causing a buildup of mucus. Bronchitis requires the lungs to work harder, causing them to deteriorate over time. The symptoms of bronchitis can greatly reduce a victim’s quality of life and limit their ability to work or participate in activities they enjoy.

If the VA has denied your disability claim for bronchitis, you will need to follow the VA process to appeal the denial. An experienced VA disability lawyer will be an important partner as you appeal a denial of your claim.

How Does the VA Rate Bronchitis?

All injuries and illnesses are assigned a rating by the VA. This rating is based on the severity of the condition and determines the amount of disability you will receive. VA ratings are expressed as a percentage which correlates to the amount the disability decreases your overall health and ability to function.

In order to establish a rating for bronchitis, a medical professional will evaluate your lung function based on the following metrics:

  • Spirometry which will measure forced vital capacity (the amount of air you can exhale after inhalation) and forced expiratory volume in one second (the amount of air blown out in the first second of an exhalation)
  • Lung volumes
  • Diffusion capacity of the lung

These measurements will determine how well you are able to breach and how effectively your lungs deliver oxygen throughout the body. You will then be assigned a rating based on the comparison of your test results to those of a normal individual with similar age, height, and weight. A bronchitis rating will be 10%, 30%, 60%, or 100%.

Common Causes of Service-Related Bronchitis

In order to qualify for VA disability for bronchitis, the illness must be related to your service. Bronchitis is a common illness after military service, and is most commonly caused when veterans breathe in airborne toxins, including:

  • Smoke
  • Asbestos debris
  • Poison gas
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Sand
  • Cigarette smoke

Your lawyer will work with you and your medical providers to establish the likely cause of your bronchitis.

How is Service Connection Established for Bronchitis?

It is not enough to have served in the military and suffer from bronchitis. To qualify for VA disability, you must establish a connection, or nexus, between your service and bronchitis. To establish a direct service connection, you must demonstrate that you have been diagnosed with bronchitis, have evidence of an event during your service that caused the illness, and medical evidence that connects your bronchitis to the service event, otherwise known as medical nexus evidence.

In some instances, veterans are able to claim presumptive service connection, but this only applies to specifically designated, chronic conditions. Chronic bronchitis is not qualified for a finding of presumptive service connection. Eligible respiratory diseases include tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, and coccidioidomycosis.

Veterans at particular risk for service-related bronchitis include:

  • Anyone who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War era because the sand in this area is very fine and susceptible to inhalation
  • Anyone who served in Iraq and Afghanistan where the U.S. military used burn pits to dispose of waste

Be sure to work with a lawyer who understands the requirements for establishing a service connection. This will be critical to securing the disability benefits you deserve.

Possible Long-Term Impacts of Bronchitis

When bronchitis doesn’t resolve within a week or two, it is considered chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is accompanied by the same symptoms as acute bronchitis, such as coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing, but it also presents long-term concerns for sufferers. Specifically, chronic bronchitis can result in:

  • Frequent and severe lung infections like pneumonia
  • Swollen feet
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Heart disease or heart failure
  • Pneumothorax

There is no cure for advanced, chronic bronchitis. Medical providers will work with you to manage the symptoms, but you will continue to deal with the debilitating effects for the rest of your life. Treatments for chronic bronchitis include bronchodilator medications, steroids, antibiotics, oxygen therapy, lung volume reduction surgery, and pulmonary rehabilitation including special breathing techniques and exercise.

You deserve to receive VA disability benefits if your chronic bronchitis was caused by your service in the military. Contact an experienced VA disability benefits lawyer today to assess your case and to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

Matthew  White


Appellate Attorney Matthew White represents veterans before the Board of Veterans Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Brendan Garcia


Owner and Lead Attorney Brendan Garcia represents veterans in all 50 states with their VA Disability Appeals, in all stages of the VA Appeals process.

Contact a VA Disability Lawyer Today

A VA Disability Lawyer’s role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating appeals process if you have been denied benefits for your service-connected bronchitis. Generally, you need to be denied at least once before an attorney can assist, but once a lawyer is involved they will often be able to quickly determine what needs to be done in order to prove entitlement to service connection.

If your VA disability claim for bronchitis has been denied, be sure to contact the VA Accredited Attorneys at VetLaw right away to help make sure you get the entitlement you deserve.

If you are suffering from bronchitis which is due to your military service, you do have the right to pursue a claim for disability benefits.

Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Unlike regular bronchitis, chronic bronchitis causes symptoms for at least 3 months a year for multiple years in a row.

The VA rating for bronchitis will depend on the severity of the symptoms and how much of an impact bronchitis has on the veteran’s life. Service-related bronchitis can result in a rating anywhere from 10% to 100%.

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