VA Disability for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living with rheumatoid arthritis can be overwhelming. Your pain may not always be well controlled. Tasks that were once easy are now impossible. And, you can’t work as much as you used to, or even at all. If your rheumatoid arthritis is service-connected, you have the right to file for VA disability benefits. At VetLaw, we have a unique perspective on VA disability for rheumatoid arthritis. We’re not just lawyers who seek justice for service members. We’re veterans, too.

Applying for VA disability benefits is more than just simple paperwork. You have to have sufficient evidence to back your service-connection claim. And, the VA’s rules and requirements are always changing. We’re here to help you create a strong VA disability benefits application. It costs you nothing for us to get started on your claim. Our firm only collects a fee if we secure benefits for you.


You spent hours gathering information and filling out forms. And yet, your VA disability benefits application was denied. Unfortunately, VA benefit denials are common. Some of the top reasons that VA disability for rheumatoid arthritis claims are denied are:

  • You submitted the wrong form. The VA has numerous disability-related forms on their website. It’s not unheard of for a veteran to accidentally submit the wrong form, so don’t feel embarrassed if you made this common mistake.
  • You missed a deadline. If the VA needs more information from you, they usually give you a deadline to submit it by. At VetLaw, we understand that it’s difficult to keep up with what the VA wants and when they want it. When you hire our firm, we keep track of deadlines for you. All you need to do is attend your medical appointments.
  • The VA determined that your rheumatoid arthritis is not service-related. The powers-that-be at the VA don’t know you personally, nor have they seen firsthand how rheumatoid arthritis affects your life. All they have is a stack of forms to read through. Our lawyers see you as more than just a number. We know what information the VA needs in order to establish service connection and what a strong claim looks like.

If you received a denial, you may still be eligible for benefits. Veterans have the right to appeal denied VA disability for rheumatoid arthritis claims. Our attorneys can help you file an appeal, even if we didn’t work on your initial claim.


The VA will assign a disability rating based on the severity of your rheumatoid arthritis. The criteria for rating rheumatoid arthritis is detailed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 38, § 4.71a, diagnostic code 5002. This rating is expressed as a percentage. Veterans with rheumatoid arthritis may receive a VA disability rating of 20%, 40%, 60%, or 100%.

When determining your VA disability for rheumatoid arthritis rating, the VA considers:

  • The medical records that you provided. You must have a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis before you can apply for VA disability benefits.
  • The results of your VA claim exam, if you were required to have one.
  • Supporting documentation from other sources. This information can come from lay sources or from a “buddy statement” from a fellow veteran. (“Buddy statements” are officially called a Statement in Support of Claim and have sometimes been referred to as “buddy letters”.)

The VA’s requirements for rheumatoid arthritis disability benefits may be different from how other organizations rate or classify this health condition.

In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, some veterans have other service-related illnesses or injuries. In those cases, the VA considers all service-connected conditions to calculate a combined disability rating. A combined VA disability rating cannot exceed 100% because a person cannot be more than 100% able-bodied.


Unlike some other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis, their immune system attacks the healthy tissues in their joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can be genetic or brought on by environmental factors.

Veterans may develop service-related rheumatoid arthritis if they:

  • Were exposed to certain types of dust or fibers
  • Were around or worked in military burn pits
  • Contracted certain viral and bacterial infections


Service connection is the key piece of evidence in a VA disability claim. If your documentation doesn’t sufficiently prove that your military service caused your rheumatoid arthritis, your benefits will be denied.

You and your medical providers must be able to establish a link between a specific event or occurrence and your rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. This link is formally called a “nexus.” When the VA evaluates service connection, they’ll look at:

  • Details of your military service 
    • What tasks you performed
    • Where you were stationed
    • What environmental factors you were exposed to
    • Any illnesses or injuries you had
  • Information in your medical records
    • When you first started to experience symptoms and sought medical care
    • The date of your formal rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis
    • Any treatment that you have received or are receiving
    • The severity of your symptoms

Your service connection may also be backed by firsthand accounts from fellow veterans and service members.

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 rheumatoid arthritis. 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.

If your VA disability claim for rheumatoid arthritis 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.

Veterans may qualify for VA disability benefits if they’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and can demonstrate that this condition is service-related. But you won’t receive VA disability automatically. You have to apply for this monthly benefit. Our attorneys can help you build the strongest case possible so that you receive the money that you qualify for.

If you’re a veteran who developed service-connected rheumatoid arthritis, you may qualify for monthly payments from the VA. The amount of this benefit is determined by the disability percentage that the VA assigns to you.

If the VA assigned you a disability rating that is lower than what your symptoms actually are, give our office a call. We may be able to help you file an appeal and pursue a higher, more appropriate disability rating.

Some veterans do develop this autoimmune disorder as a result of their military service. Exposure to certain dust and fibers can cause rheumatoid arthritis. There are also relatively new findings that support a link between military burn pits and rheumatoid arthritis.

VA disability benefit requirements can change over time. If you were told in the past that your rheumatoid arthritis was not service-connected, the laws may be different now. Give us a call today for a free case review as we can help you file a Supplemental Claim if you’re eligible, no matter how long ago you received a VA denial letter.

Our Team Is Eager To Hear About Your Case!

Please fill out the form below, or give us a call, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. The more detail you can provide, the better we can determine if we can help you. (And even if we can’t take your case, we will do our best to offer other options, and point you in the best direction we can!)

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