Use a VA Benefits Attorney to Pursue PACT Act Benefits for Maxillary Sinusitis

The maxillary sinus is the largest of the four sinuses, which are large, air-filled spaces inside the skull. Healthy sinuses help reduce head weight, produce irritant-reducing mucus, and can even affect the tone of a person’s voice. However, when the sinuses become infected or otherwise damaged, individuals may fight a life-long battle against potentially debilitating discomfort. 

Since the passage of the PACT Act in 2022, tens of thousands of veterans diagnosed with maxillary sinusitis and other types of chronic sinusitis have received benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

Sean Kendall, Attorney at Law, has spent decades helping veterans fight for their rights to high-quality care and fair compensation. If you or a loved one need assistance applying for maxillary sinusitis benefits or aren’t sure where to begin, please message us online to schedule your initial consultation. Older veteran holding fingers against nose due to maxillary sinusitis

The PACT Act and Maxillary Sinusitis

The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, often referred to as the PACT Act, is bipartisan legislation approved by Congress in 2022 and signed into law later the same year. 

Since its inception, the PACT Act has been touted as among the most significant benefits expansions in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ history. It changes how the VA is allowed to adjudicate claims, making it easy for former military members to obtain care without having to provide exhaustive evidence of a service connection

The PACT Act introduced new policies including, but not limited to: 

  • An expansion of health care and medical benefits to veterans whose service likely put them at risk for toxic chemical exposures. 
  • The addition of more than 20 new presumptive conditions, including chronic sinusitis and maxillary sinusitis. 
  • Free toxin screenings for most veterans.

Veterans can often receive benefits for maxillary sinusitis with little more than a diagnosis and a copy of their eligible service records. 

Burn Pits, Toxins, and Maxillary Sinusitis

Sinusitis is any infection of the sinuses—empty spaces inside the skull that protect the body against infection and humidify inhaled air before it reaches the lungs. Each sinus cavity also produces mucus, which traps dirt and other pollutants, which are routed into the stomach and destroyed by acid. Healthy sinuses are usually free from germs, bacteria, and fungus. But when fluid builds up inside them, viruses and other invaders have an opportunity to wreak havoc without being flushed out of the skull. 

For most Americans, sinus problems—including sinusitis—have mundane explanations. The most common risk factors are: 

  • Recent recovery from a cold 
  • Seasonal allergies 
  • Smoking or regular exposure to secondhand smoke 
  • A weakened immune system 

However, short-term exposure to more noxious emissions could trigger sinusitis and similar conditions. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and on military bases across the region, service men and women were often placed in close proximity to open-air burn pits—a once-common means of disposing of military waste, but which often sent up plumes of hazardous and contaminant-heavy smoke. 

The smoke from burn pits contained a volatile combination of chemical and organic compounds that can injure the body’s cells and damage tissue—and emerging evidence suggests that these compounds likely play a role in the eruption of serious conditions like chronic sinusitis. 

Symptoms of Maxillary Sinusitis

The sinuses are four pairs of hollow cavities inside the skull. They are:

  • The frontal sinuses located directly behind each eye.
  • The maxillary sinuses, which are the largest pair of sinuses and located behind the cheekbones and upper jaw. 
  • The sphenoid sinuses between the temple and upper jaw.
  • The ethmoid sinuses alongside each eye. 

Any of these four sinuses could be infected and referred to as “sinusitis.” However, sinusitis has several distinct subtypes. These include: 

  • Acute sinusitis, a condition that lasts less than six weeks and is usually caused by a bacterial infection
  • Chronic sinusitis, or sinusitis that lasts eight weeks or longer and has symptoms of varying severity 
  • Recurring sinusitis, a condition characterized by three or more episodes of sinusitis each year 

The symptoms of acute, chronic, and recurring sinusitis are somewhat similar. They include thick nasal drainage, post-nasal drip, a recurring cough, difficulty breathing, facial swelling, tenderness, and toothache. 

Maxillary sinusitis, in particular, is characterized by a more pressing facial pain—especially around the cheek, but sometimes in the teeth, too. This pain is often exacerbated by bending down, stooping, or otherwise straining the body. Some people with maxillary sinusitis-related infections develop fevers, too. 

The VA and Maxillary Sinusitis Ratings

Filing a claim is not always easy, nor are adjudications always underlain by anything resembling common sense. The VA awards different disability ratings for maxillary sinusitis, ranging between 0 percent and 50 percent. These ratings depend on the intensity of symptoms displayed: 

  • 0 Percent—this is for sinusitis that’s only detectable on or by X-ray. 
  • 10 Percent—this includes one or two incapacitating sinusitis episodes annually, or more than six annual non-incapacitating episodes. 
  • 30 Percent—for sinusitis with three or more incapacitating episodes per year, or more than six annual non-incapacitating episodes. 
  • 50 Percent—for sinusitis treated with radical surgery, or near-constant sinusitis with headaches, pain, tenderness, and other symptoms. 

Obtaining PACT Act Benefits for Maxillary Sinusitis

Although the PACT Act categorizes sinusitis as a presumptive condition, claims are still sometimes denied or downgraded to a lower disability rating. However, you don’t have to take your chances with the VA’s notoriously byzantine bureaucracy. The knowledgeable team at Sean Kendall, Attorney at Law, could help you protect your rights by: 

  • Filing the right claim for your PACT Act maxillary sinusitis case.
  • Re-submitting a supplemental claim if an earlier attempt for benefits was denied before the PACT Act took effect
  • Reviewing your health history and determining whether you could be eligible for other ratings and benefits. 
  • Providing aggressive representation if your claim is denied and you have to appeal an adverse decision.