Getting VA disability benefits for hepatitis C is not impossible, but it can be difficult. It is common for the virus to lie dormant in the body for decades before causing symptoms, which makes it difficult to establish a service connection. For this reason, Veterans living with hepatitis C often need to work with an experienced Veterans benefits attorney to navigate the appeals process.
About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C, also known as hep C or HCV, is a viral infection causing inflammation in the liver. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Dark urine and pale stools
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
The virus is contagious and can be transmitted by bodily fluids. Organ transplants, blood transfusion, hemodialysis, tattoos, IV drug use, and unprotected sexual activity can increase a Veteran’s risk of infection. Air gun inoculations and exposure to contaminated blood on the battlefield are two risk factors specific to military service.
Hepatitis C is treated with antiviral medications, but relapse after treatment may occur. If left untreated, the condition can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis, and liver failure.
Ratings for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is rated under 38 CFR § 4.114, Schedule of Ratings – Digestive System. Ratings range from 0% for service-connected non-symptomatic hepatitis C to 100% for a presentation of near-constant debilitating symptoms.
A Veteran with a 60% or higher rating may qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits providing compensation at the 100% disability rate if they are unable to maintain substantially gainful employment because of their condition. If a Veteran has two or more disabilities, they must have a combined rating of 70% or higher and one disability that is rated 40% or higher to qualify for TDIU benefits.
Get Help With Your Application for VA Disability Benefits
The application and appeals process for VA disability benefits can be confusing, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. If you believe you’ve been wrongfully denied the benefits you’ve earned in service of your country, the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.