Nephrotoxicity, or renal toxicity, is a kind of kidney disease caused by exposure to a drug or chemical that damages your kidneys. This damage makes it difficult for your body to dispose of waste and excess urine. Nephrotoxicity can be diagnosed based a couple lab tests, including a measurement of your blood urea nitrogen (BUN)—essentially the amount of urea in your blood— and creatinine, which occurs when creatine is broken down to provide energy for your muscles. An increase in these levels points toward a diagnosis of nephrotoxicity.
Eligible veterans who have been diagnosed with renal toxicity should be aware that the condition is linked to exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found at U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Though the condition does not come with a presumption of service connection (meaning you do not need to prove that your condition is linked to your military service), VA does offer cost-free healthcare to veterans who have been diagnosed with it. To qualify, you must have served for at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between the mid 1950s and 1980s.
Camp Lejeune Toxic Exposure
Service members and their family members who were at Camp Lejeune for a period of no fewer than 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987 may have been exposed to dangerous toxins in their drinking supply. Such toxins include trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride, which were either improperly stored or disposed of on or nearby the base.
Thanks to the Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, renal toxicity belongs on a list of conditions that have been linked to this toxic exposure, and for which veterans may apply for cost-free healthcare from VA. Renal toxicity does NOT, however, belong on the list of presumptive conditions associated with Camp Lejeune toxic exposure. That means if you wish to pursue a service connection and disability benefits from VA for your condition, you must do so according to the regular VA disability claims process.
The full list of conditions for which VA will provide cost-free healthcare, and SOME of which VA will consider for presumptive service connection, include:
- Esophageal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Kidney cancer (presumptive)
- Multiple myeloma (presumptive)
- Renal toxicity
- Female infertility
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (presumptive)
- Lung cancer
- Bladder cancer (presumptive)
- Leukemia (presumptive)
- Myelodysplastic syndromes (presumptive)
- Hepatic steatosis
- Neurobehavioral effects
VA Disability Ratings for Renal Toxicity
Nephrotoxicity can have many causes, including something as simple and fixable as dehydration or a high-protein diet, but may also be linked to drug toxicity, urinary infection, enlarged prostate, blood blockage from kidney stones or tumor, diabetes, or other conditions. It is important to acquire a diagnosis from a medical professional to determine its cause and treat the underlying problem before your condition advances to a more serious form of kidney disease.
If your nephrotoxicity is a sign of another condition, you may want to seek a service connection for that condition and collect the disability compensation available to you that way. Pay attention to which conditions are presumptive to your service history at Camp Lejeune, and those which are not presumptive, requiring you to prove a service connection between your current diagnosis and an in-service incident such as an accident, injury, or illness.
Should your nephrotoxicity be a sign of kidney disease, VA will rate your condition as renal dysfunction according to § 4.115a Ratings of the genitourinary system—dysfunctions. Your rating will be based mostly on the severity of your symptoms and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
VA’s rating schedule for renal dysfunction is as follows:
- 100%: Chronic kidney disease with glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 15 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months; or requiring regular routine dialysis; or eligible kidney transplant recipient
- 80%: Chronic kidney disease with GFR from 15 to 29 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
- 60%: Chronic kidney disease with GFR from 30 to 44 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
- 30%: Chronic kidney disease with GFR from 45 to 59 mL/min/1.73 m 2 for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
- GFR from 60 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m 2 and either recurrent red blood cell (RBC) casts, white blood cell (WBC) casts, or granular casts for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months; or
- GFR from 60 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m 2 and structural kidney abnormalities (cystic, obstructive, or glomerular) for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months; or
- GFR from 60 to 89 mL/min/1.73 m 2 and albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR) ≥30 mg/g for at least 3 consecutive months during the past 12 months
Note: GFR, estimated GFR (eGFR), and creatinine-based approximations of GFR will be accepted for evaluation purposes under this section when determined to be appropriate and calculated by a medical professional.
Assistance With Your Claim
Renal toxicity can become a serious condition if not treated properly, and since it may be linked to your service history at Camp Lejeune, you should seek the assistance from VA that you deserve. Whether it advances to a worse form of kidney disease, or points toward a diagnosis for diabetes or prostate cancer, you will want to seek out the disability compensation that you deserve.
For assistance with your claim or appeal for VA disability benefits for renal toxicity or any other condition related to Camp Lejeune toxic exposure, contact VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS or write to us online.