Many veterans suffer from heart disease as a consequence of active duty military service. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows former servicemembers to apply for disability compensation to offset the adverse effects of any heart conditions sustained during or worsened by their time on active duty.

However, most claims involving heart disease get denied by VA for lack of service-connection or a formal diagnosis while on active duty. If VA denied your heart disease claim, VetLaw’s skilled legal team can help you file an appeal to get the benefits you need.

How Can a Veteran Meet VA’s Requirements for Heart Disease Claims?

There are many conditions that can qualify a veteran to receive VA disability compensation. For example, heart diseases which result from exposure to toxic chemicals on military bases stateside or overseas may satisfy VA’s disability requirements.

Agent Orange is a tactical herbicide which was used by American forces during the Vietnam War. Those who were “boots on the ground” in Vietnam, as well as Blue Water Veterans, may automatically qualify for disability benefits if they now suffer from heart disease as a result of serving active duty in contaminated areas. Other veterans who served in Thailand, Korea, or other locations affected by Agent Orange also qualify but typically have a much harder time proving they were exposed to tactical herbicides.

This exposure has led some former servicemembers to develop ischemic heart conditions or coronary artery diseases. These diseases cause cholesterol plaque to build up in the arteries and prevent oxygen and blood from reaching the heart, potentially leading to a heart attack.

Presumptive Heart Diseases

The following heart conditions may qualify a veteran for VA benefits under the current presumptions:

  • Valvular heart disease
  • Endocarditis
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Coronary bypass surgery
  • Sustained ventricular arrhythmias
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Heart transplant
  • Pericardial adhesions
  • Syphilitic heart disease
  • Hypertensive heart disease
  • Atrioventricular block
  • Cardiomyopathy

How Does VA Assign a Disability Rating?

VA may grant a 100 percent disability rating for a heart condition which leaves a veteran hospitalized. Otherwise, an applicant’s disability would be rated according to their degree of impairment from zero to 100 percent. Even if rated below 100 percent, if the heart condition causes you to be unemployable, you may be able to receive a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU).

A qualifying heart disease must affect your ability to function in some way in order for you to obtain compensation. Minor impairment may result in a 0 percent or 10 percent rating, but you should still establish entitlement to service connection in case the condition worsens in the future. Fortunately, one of our dedicated attorneys can help veterans collect the necessary documentation to prove the severity of their service-connected heart diseases.

Appealing a Denied Claim

If an applicant’s heart disease claim was denied before February 19, 2019, they must file a legacy Notice of Disagreement with a local VA office before their case can move forward. Otherwise, if a claim is rejected on or after February 19, 2019, the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) would require a veteran to file a direct notice of disagreement using VA Form 10182 requesting administrative review by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. A lawyer from our firm can help former servicemembers whose heart disease claims have been denied by VA take whichever appellate path best meets their individual circumstances.

Ask an Attorney about Heart Disease Claims Today

A VA-accredited attorney can advise you on what to include in your heart disease Supplemental Claim or help you file an appeal if your application for benefits was recently denied. Our qualified legal team can help you gather evidence and prepare you for a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge. Get in touch with our firm as soon as possible for help with proving your case for your entitlement to disability compensation.