There are various conditions that Veterans can develop as a result of military sexual trauma (MST). While PTSD and depression are the most common conditions that result from MST, eating disorders are also possible and qualify for compensation from the VA.
MST and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are a type of mental health disorder that can result from trauma or stress. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two common eating disorders. Eating disorders can have a range of symptoms such as skipping or not eating meals, mood swings, changes in weight, and gastrointestinal issues. With anorexia nervosa, the person intentionally starves themselves. With bulimia nervosa, the person binge eats then purges the food in order to not gain weight.
Service members who are in active duty are at an increased risk for eating disorders since they can be under great stress or experience trauma. One study of United States Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans shows that male Veterans with MST are twice as likely to develop an eating disorder than those without MST. Another study shows that women service members are 20 times more likely than men to develop an eating disorder than men service members.
How the VA Rates Eating Disorders
In order to qualify for VA disability benefits and file a claim, you must be able to show that the eating disorder was caused by an event that took place during your military service. You will need to establish that the eating disorder was the result of a specific occurrence, such as MST.
You may need to show proof of your diagnosis and if you were hospitalized or incapacitated as a result of the disorder. Medical care and treatments for conditions related to MST are available to survivors at all VA medical centers and are free of charge.
The VA gives eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa a rating from 0% to 100% based on the following factors:
- Weight based on sex and height to determine minimum weight standards
- Severity of symptoms
- How many episodes the Veteran has had that left them incapacitated, such as being under doctor’s care, hospitalized, or on bed rest at home
Ratings for eating disorders are as follows:
- 0% rating. A 0% rating is given to those with bulimia symptoms or to those who take other measures to prevent weight gain while being under the expected minimum weight with a diagnosis of an eating disorder but not having any incapacitating episodes.
- 10% rating. A 10% rating is given to those with bulimia symptoms or to those who take other measures that prevent weight gain while being under the expected minimum weight with a diagnosis of an eating disorder and have had incapacitating episodes that are up to two weeks long per year.
- 30% rating. A 30% rating is given to those with self-induced weight loss that weigh less than 85% of the expected minimum weight with a diagnosis of an eating disorder and have had incapacitating episodes that are two to six weeks long per year.
- 60% rating. A 60% rating is given to those with self-induced weight loss that weigh less than 85% of the expected minimum weight with a diagnosis of an eating disorder and have had incapacitating episodes of at least six weeks per year.
- 100% rating. A 100% rating is given to those with self-induced weight loss that weigh less than 80% of the expected minimum weight and have had incapacitating episodes of at least six weeks total per year, and that required being hospitalized more than two times per year for tube feeding or additional nutrition.
Contact a VA Disability Attorney
If you are a victim of MST and suffer from an eating disorder, you may be able to receive benefits and compensation from the VA. The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law can provide a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the types of benefits you are entitled to receive for your service. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.