Approximately 10% of Americans are living with diabetes—making this one of the country’s most common chronic health conditions. Between 90% and 95% of these individuals suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects how the body uses glucose for energy. The body either resists the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by several different environmental and genetic factors. Being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and having a family history of the condition are the best-known risk factors. However, in some cases, exposure to Agent Orange while serving in the U.S. military can lead to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Receiving a Presumptive Service Connection for Type 2 Diabetes
Agent Orange was used from 1962 to 1975 to clear leaves and vegetation for military operations related to the Vietnam War. Veterans who served during this time period in Vietnam, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or on Thai Air Force bases may have been exposed to Agent Orange. Agent Orange exposure may have also occurred in Veterans who flew on or worked on C-123 Aircraft or were stationed at locations where herbicides were tested or stored.
Any exposure to Agent Orange is considered dangerous, so a Veteran qualifies for a presumptive service connection even if they only spent a few days or weeks in a qualifying area.
A Veteran who wants to receive a presumptive service connection must submit military service records showing their date and location of service, as well as medical records showing that they have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. No Agent Orange health registry exam is needed, although Veterans may wish to take this free exam to alert them of any other potential medical problems.
How the VA Rates Type 2 Diabetes
VA disability ratings range from 0% to 100% and are awarded in 10% increments. Higher ratings increase a Veteran’s monthly cash compensation.
Since type 2 diabetes affects people in many different ways, there are several potential disability ratings that can be assigned when this condition is caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
- 10% rating. A Veteran will receive a 10% rating if their condition can be managed using a restricted diet.
- 20% rating. A Veteran will receive a 20% rating if they require one or more insulin injections per day and need a restricted diet or must take an oral hypoglycemic agent.
- 40% rating. A Veteran will receive a 40% rating if they need one or more insulin injections per day, require a restricted diet, and require regulated activity.
- 60% rating. A Veteran will receive a 60% rating if they need one or more insulin injections per day, require a restricted diet, require regulated activity, are suffering complications not compensable if evaluated separately, and are either hospitalized once or twice per year or have twice-monthly visits to a diabetic care provider.
- 100% disability rating. A Veteran will be considered totally disabled if they need one or more insulin injections per day, require a restricted diet, require regulated activity, are either suffering complications that are compensable if evaluated separately or have a progressive weight loss or strength reduction, and are either hospitalized three or more times per year or have weekly visits to a diabetic care provider.
When blood sugar levels are poorly controlled, people with type 2 diabetes can develop other serious medical conditions such as kidney disease, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction, cataracts, and high blood pressure. These conditions may be eligible for a secondary service connection that can increase a Veteran’s overall disability rating.
We’re Here to Help
VA disability benefits can ease the financial strain associated with type 2 diabetes and provide access to needed medical care. Working with an attorney can help ensure that you receive the highest possible rating for your condition. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with Sean Kendall and his team of experienced Veterans benefits attorneys.