Diabetes is a metabolic disease. For diabetics, the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily living.
Veterans who are seeking disability compensation benefits
from the VA for diabetes, often see the same "canned" responses from the VA Regional Office.
Typically, there is a finding that the diabetes or symptoms of diabetes did not appear to a compensable degree within one year of discharge from the military.
The second most common error I see is when the VA Ratings Decision relies solely
on a medical opinion from a VA Medical Center Doctor who concludes that it would be pure speculation whether the present diagnosis of diabetes was caused by or connected to military service.
For Veterans who are trying to establish service connection for Diabetes, there are at many ways to skin the proverbial cat. Four (4) of them are described below.
First, the Veteran can show "direct service connection".
This is usually done by combing through the Veteran's military service records to find any indication of symptomatology of diabetes. Then, post service medical records and private medical records are scoured for any evidence that this symptomatology continued from discharge until diagnosis. When I am looking through medical records or the Veterans' C-File (Claims File) on behalf of the Veteran, I am looking for certain symptomatology.
For Type I Diabetes,I am looking for any indications in and after the Veteran's military service that indicate blood sugar levels that are consistent with a diagnosis of diabetes or approach diabetic levels, frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability.
For Type II Diabetes, I am looking in the Veterans military service treatment records, C-File, or post-service treatment records, for any of the Type I symptomatology, and also frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the extremities, and/or recurring skin, gum or bladder infections.
With Type II Diabetes, it is important to note that in some situations, the Veteran may experience no symptomatology. This is a challenging situation that may require assistance from an accredited VA attorne.
Second the Veteran can show "secondary service connection". This is usually done by showing that some injury, which is already or can be service connected, is the cause of the Veteran's diabetes. I have seen many try to attempt this proof, and very few are successful. However, there are situations when it can, and should, be considered by the VA Regional Office before the issuance of the VA Ratings Decision.
Third, the Veteran can show "service connection by legal presumption." If Diabetes is diagnosed in service, or if the symptoms of Diabetes present to a compensable degree (10%) within one year of discharge, the Veteran's Diabetes will be presumed to be service-connected.
Fourth, certain Veterans that set foot on soil in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange are entitled to another legal presumption. On November 9, 2000, the VA announced that Vietnam veterans with Type-II diabetes would now be eligible for disability compensation.
By Chris Attig
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