As a veteran experiencing anemia, you may be wondering if you can establish a service connection to your condition and seek compensation from the VA. Anemia may be causing symptoms like fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, headaches and other body and joint pain, or pale or yellow skin. The symptoms may range from mild to severe, and the anemia itself may be the effect of a whole range of other conditions. Ordinarily, the VA will be more concerned about your underlying conditions, which offer you the best avenue for establishing a service connection.
What is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition caused by a lack of red blood cells, or the presence of dysfunctional red blood cells, which reduces the flow of oxygen throughout your body. The lack of oxygen in turn causes the symptoms listed above, which occur when your organs and tissues don’t receive the oxygen needed to fully function. Anemia is identified by medical tests as low hemoglobin or hematocrit, and it comes in many forms, either as a hereditary condition or as a secondary symptom of an underlying condition. Over 400 types of anemia have been identified, are primarily caused by either blood loss, decreased or faulty red blood cell production, or destruction of red blood cells. Common treatments, depending on the anemia, include supplements, medications, and blood transfusions.
How The VA Views Anemia
VA recognizes anemia as “predominantly hereditary or secondary, a symptom of another condition,” and proposes treatment of the underlying condition, such as osteomyelitis or hyperthyroidism, to correct anemia, preferring to evaluate the severity of your anemia under your existing service-connected disability. It does, however, describe diagnostic codes for anemias that are not hereditary or addressed under other diagnostic codes for causative conditions, and currently grants ratings for anemia at levels of 0, 10, 30, 60, 70, and 100%.
Common Anemia Types and Possible VA Disability Ratings
Anemia may have been caused by a number of underlying conditions. VA deems it appropriate to address underlying conditions first, but may grant your anemia a rating depending in the circumstances of its presence. Following are some of the common anemia types and how the VA normally addresses them:
Iron Deficiency Anemia (DC 7720): A decrease in iron content normally caused by blood loss. VA typically evaluates the anemia under the condition responsible for the blood loss, but may grant a 0, 10, or 30% rating for iron deficiency anemia not caused by blood loss.
Folic Acid Deficiency (DC 7721): An increasingly rare condition in the US due to improved dietary fortification. VA may grant a 10% rating for cases requiring a continuous treatment of high doses of supplements.
Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia (DC 7722): Pernicious anemia is the most severe form of B12 deficiency, and may be granted a 100% rating if treatment requires transfusion or or the condition shows signs of central nervous system impairment. Less severe B12 deficiency anemia, which requires continuous B12 injections or medications, may be granted a 10% rating.
Acquired Hemolytic Anemia (DC 7723): May be caused by over 200 conditions, and as such may be granted a 0, 10, 30, 60, or 100% rating depending on the severity and the course of treatment recommended.
Sickle Cell Anemia (DC 7714): A genetic condition resulting in misshapen, “sickle”-shaped red blood cells, and is considered to be existing prior to service. May be rated at 10, 30, 60, and 100% depending on the regularity of painful episodes.
Aplastic Anemia (DC 7716): A condition in which the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. May be treated with blood transfusion, or in serious cases, peripheral blood or bone marrow stem cell transplant. It may be rated at 30, 60, or 100%.
Assistance with Your Anemia VA Claim
Veterans suffering from anemia and other underlying conditions who are starting claims, or have had trouble getting them approved, are encouraged to call VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS. We will guide you through the claims process and strengthen your claim to receive the compensation you deserve for your disability.