Category: Veterans Disability Law
Rhinitis VA Rating: Allergic Rhinitis Service Connection and VA Disability for Chronic Rhinitis
Veterans who become disabled during their time in military service could be eligible for financial compensation. The amount they will receive depends on the severity of their condition and how much it affects their quality of life. Some disabilities are very serious and can permanently change the way a veteran moves, thinks or lives. Other disabilities pose more of an inconvenience, and simply make working more difficult without completely disabling the veteran. Regardless of the severity of the disability, to earn compensation a veteran must prove the diagnosis is connected to their service. One of the less intense disabilities which can be difficult to prove a service connection for is allergic rhinitis.
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, is a name given to the immune responses of your body to specific allergens or pollutants. The word rhinitis refers to the inflammation of the mucous membrane within the nose. Typically referred to as “allergies,” allergic rhinitis can cause annoying and consistent mild symptoms. In more severe cases, allergic rhinitis can make it extremely difficult to carry out regular activities during certain times of the year. Difficulty participating in work or social events can result in depression, anxiety, isolation, and other problems that hinder your ability to live life to the fullest.
Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms
While allergic rhinitis can present itself in many different ways, there are some symptoms that are relatively common in the majority of affected individuals. One of the primary defining symptoms of a rhinitis case is an issue with the nose. Nasal congestion and a runny nose are both characteristics of allergic rhinitis.
Beyond the nose, those with allergic rhinitis may also experience drainage in the throat, uncontrollable sneezing, or a cough. Some individuals experience swelling or itching in their eyes. Skin conditions such as eczema-like symptoms and hives are also not uncommon to experience. Bags under the eyes, constant exhaustion, or an unusual itching sensation in the nose, throat, or mouth are all additional symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
What Are the Causes of Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis is usually viewed as a seasonal issue, as it affects different people at different times. Outdoor allergens are most common in the air from the beginning of spring in March all the way until the temperature drops in October. These allergens cause the immune system to overreact to substances that would normally cause no harm. Some allergens that cause allergic reactions include the following:
- Dust mites
- Pet hair or dander
- Cockroach residue
Anytime the body is exposed to something it deems dangerous, the body will fight it with antibodies. This can be extremely helpful when combating a bacteria or virus.
When dealing with allergic rhinitis, however, the substances are not actually threatening to your body’s health. Therefore these antibodies are made for no particular reason. The production of these antibodies will cause you to experience symptoms similar to those you would experience during a cold or other infection. This is why allergic rhinitis is also called hay fever even though there is no fever present in those affected.
Allergic Rhinitis VA Rating
Assuming your claim for allergic rhinitis is approved by VA, you will be given a percentage disability rating to represent the severity of your condition. This is usually tied to your ability to hold a steady job. The rating can be anywhere between 0-100% in increments of 10; 0% earning no compensation and 100% earning the maximum amount of compensation.
Your rhinitis VA rating will be decided at a compensation and pension (C&P) exam at which your symptoms and the effects your symptoms have on your life will be assessed. The variety of symptoms included in allergic rhinitis can make it tough to pinpoint an exact rating for all cases. If both of your nasal passages are at least 50% blocked, or if one of them is 100% blocked, you will receive a rhinitis VA rating of at least 10%. If you have constant and severe allergic rhinitis that causes abnormal growths to form in your tissues, you will receive at least a 30% VA disability rating for rhinitis.
These ratings can also be factored in with other conditions to result in a higher total combined VA disability rating.
What is Chronic Rhinitis?
Chronic rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose for more than four consecutive weeks. The average individual usually experiences periods of acute rhinitis in which symptoms last a few days up to four weeks. If a veteran develops chronic rhinitis as a lasting result of their time in the military, they may be eligible for compensation. Dealing with these cold-like symptoms for more than four weeks is not easy. Allergies that don’t go away when the allergens do are essentially their own illness. The chronic rhinitis VA rating will typically be higher than the acute rhinitis VA rating.
What Is Non-Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis involves the body’s immune system overreacting to the presence of allergens such as pollen, pet dander, or dust in the air. Non-allergic rhinitis includes any case of rhinitis that doesn’t have to do with the body’s immune system. This usually includes rhinitis that’s caused by the surrounding environment—air pollutants like strong odors or tobacco smoke can result in rhinitis symptoms. Non-allergic rhinitis can also occur from unknown causes. Chronic non-allergic rhinitis only represents about 25% of all rhinitis cases. You can find out what is causing your allergic response by getting an allergen-specific immunoglobulin antibody test from a doctor.
What’s the Difference Between Rhinitis and Sinusitis?
Even though allergic rhinitis can provide similar symptoms to a sinus infection, there is no actual infection present. In sinusitis—a sinus infection—the small cavities of mucus in the bones in your face get infected. This will cause your mucus to be a thick green or yellow color. Sinusitis can also cause your face to be tender. Rhinitis does not change the color of your mucus and leaves your face feeling less affected.
What’s the Difference Between Rhinitis and a Cold?
Similar to sinusitis, a cold is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. A cold might give you a low-grade fever, while rhinitis won’t cause any increase in body temperature. A cold can also cause the fluid from your nose to be slightly yellow, whereas rhinitis makes clear watery mucus. Even though the symptoms are fairly similar, getting a cold and having rhinitis is not the same thing.
Types of VA Compensation for Rhinitis
Your rhinitis VA rating will typically not be too high because the condition has relatively mild symptoms. The types of compensation you can receive also depend on the effects of the condition on your life. While it is possible for veterans to receive compensation such as lost wages, additional service equipment, and pain and suffering, those with rhinitis do not usually require these.
Those with allergic rhinitis will usually receive normal financial compensation based primarily on their disability rating. Occasionally, severe cases of rhinitis can cause veterans to miss work and earn lost wages, but rewards are usually confined to monetary benefits.
To receive VA compensation for rhinitis you will need to get a current diagnosis from your doctor. They will need to know the symptoms you experience from your allergic rhinitis, how often they occur, and what triggers them. This will allow the doctor to provide you with the best possible treatment. A service record might also help when attempting to prove a service connection.
Proving a Service Connection for Rhinitis
Establishing a medical link can be difficult when it comes to allergic rhinitis. Even with a current diagnosis, you will need to prove that your rhinitis was caused by a specific instance or incident during your military service. The most common service connections for VA rhinitis compensation include working or serving in dusty or smoky environments. Prolonged exposure to dust, mold, or smoke can result in the development of an allergic response.
There is a presumptive conditions list for allergic rhinitis as well. If you served in specific areas during specific periods of time, VA will assume that your condition is linked to your military service. Allergic rhinitis can also be claimed as a symptom of service-connected asthma.
What If My Claim Is Denied?
If your VA rhinitis claim is denied, you have the ability to appeal the ruling. When you appeal a claim, you can have it reviewed by a different VA adjudicator, or provide additional information that may change the decision. Ultimately, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals can overrule VA decisions. VA disability lawyers understand how to file an appeal and the rules surrounding the process. If you receive an unfavorable decision from VA, whether it’s a denial or just a lower rating than expected, a disability attorney can help you challenge that decision.
Contact Tuley Law Office for Assistance With Your Rhinitis VA Rating
Tuley Law Office is a law firm with decades of experience handling personal injury and VA disability cases. Our VA disability lawyers have years of experience working with VA’s complex systems and regulations. Navigating the legal requirements can be quite challenging if it’s your first time, especially if you’re dealing with a physical condition such as allergic rhinitis. Hiring legal counsel will help answer the unknown that you may have questions about.
Reach out to our law firm by calling (812) 625-2053 or filling out our online contact form today.
Have questions about your case?Contact us