Veterans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) at a rate that is 34% higher than the general population. Many of these cases have a secondary service connection and are attributed to diabetes mellitus and hypertension. When chronic kidney disease progresses to the point where a Veteran can no longer maintain steady employment, they can qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
VA Ratings for Kidney Disease
Applications for VA disability benefits for kidney disease should be rated under the genitourinary system. There are separate rating schedules for dysfunctions (§4.115a) and diagnoses (§4.115b). However, the code for diagnoses should reference the dysfunctions code that refers to the severity of the condition.
CKD is rated primarily as a renal dysfunction, with five possible percentages: 0%, 30%, 60%, 80%, and 100%. Veterans who are in end-stage kidney failure and require regular dialysis are entitled to a 100% rating. A Veteran can also receive a 100% rating if they are limited to sedentary activity due to edema or albuminuria, have blood tests showing a BUN of more than 80mg or creatinine of more than 8mg, or have decreased function of the kidney or other organ systems such as those in the cardiovascular system.
Eligibility for TDIU
Veterans with CKD rated less than 100% who are unable to obtain substantially gainful employment may qualify for TDIU benefits that provide compensation at the 100% disability rating level if they meet certain criteria. If CKD is your only disability, it must be rated 60% or higher. If you have two or more service-connected disabilities, they must have a combined rating of 70% or higher with one that is rated 40% or higher unless your condition requires frequent and extended hospital stays.
TDIU applications require you to submit evidence that your condition leaves you unable to obtain employment suited to your skills and education. For example, if you have no post-secondary education and a work history that only includes manual labor, you wouldn’t reasonably be expected to find a job that could accommodate the physical restrictions often associated with advanced CKD.
Additional VA Benefits
Veterans who qualify for VA disability, even those who don’t qualify for TDIU, can receive a number of other benefits for CKD. This includes help with transportation costs, home improvements, and non-VA medical care related to kidney disease. Visit the VA website for details.
How We Can Help
The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is committed to helping Veterans access the benefits they need to provide for themselves and their families. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with an experienced Veterans benefits lawyer.