VA Compensation Appeals for Cataract – Everything You Need to Know
If you developed cataracts, or your existing cataract condition worsened as the result of your service in the U.S. military, you deserve benefits for your condition. Perhaps the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) denied your claim or underrated your condition. That does not mean you did not earn your cataract veterans’ benefits.
A VA disability advocate can look over your cataract veterans benefits claim, spot the problem areas that might have resulted in your claims denial or underrating, and file an appeal on your behalf. Call (888) 373-4722 for more information.
How VA Rates Your Cataract Condition
The cloudy vision that people with cataracts suffer makes the ordinary experiences of everyday life—reading, driving and reading facial expressions—a challenge.
Although glasses and strong lighting can help with the early phases of a cataract condition, the need for cataract surgery might present itself when your visual impairments start to get in the way of living a normal life. Receiving the veterans’ benefits you earned sure would help.
Before assigning a rating for your cataract condition, VA first determines whether your cataracts are preoperative or postoperative.
Preoperative Cataract Ratings
If your cataract condition is preoperative, the schedule of ratings for eyes assigns a rating based on “either visual impairment due to the particular condition or on incapacitating episodes, whichever results in a higher evaluation.”
An incapacitating episode is “an eye condition severe enough to require a clinic visit to a provider specifically for treatment purposes,” according to VA.
Incapacitating Episodes: How VA Rates Your Cataract to Determine Veterans Benefits
- 60% disability rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring 7 or more treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 40% disability rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 5 but less than 7 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 20% disability rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 3 but less than 5 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 10% disability rating: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 1 but less than 3 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
Visual Impairment: How VA Rates Your Cataract to Determine Veterans Benefits
VA considers three factors when it rates your visual impairment:
- Visual acuity
- Visual fields
- Muscle function
Depending upon the extent of your impairment within the context of these variables, VA rates your impairment. VA calculates your benefits by matching your rating to its corresponding monthly payment on VA Benefits Pay Schedule.
Postoperative Cataract Ratings
If your cataract condition is postoperative, VA rates your condition based on whether a replacement lens is present (pseudophakia) or there is no replacement lens (aphakia).
If a Replacement Lens Is Present (Pseudophakia)
For postoperative cataracts with a replacement lens VA determines ratings for your cataract condition in the same way it rates them for preoperative conditions as described above.
If No Replacement Lens Is Present (Aphakia)
For postoperative cataracts without a replacement lens, VA evaluates your condition based on visual impairment and evaluates the resulting level of visual impairment one step.
Importantly, VA grants a minimum rating (regardless of whether your condition is unilateral or bilateral) of 30% for aphakia.
Calculating Your Monthly Pay for Cataract Veterans Benefits Based on Your Rating
Using the rating VA links with your disability, you can figure your monthly benefits per the following benefits pay schedule:
VA Benefits Pay Schedule (as of December 2019) for a single veteran with no dependents.
- 10% disability rating: $142.29 per month
- 20% disability rating: $281.27 per month
- 30 % disability rating: $435.69 per month
- 40% disability rating: $627.61 per month
- 50% disability rating: $893.43 per month
- 60% disability rating: $1,131.68 per month
- 70% disability rating: $1,426.17 per month
- 80% disability rating: $1,657.80 per month
- 90% disability rating: $1,826.96 per month
- 100% disability rating: $3,106.04 per month
Your VA Benefits Appeal Must Contain These Three Elements
VA expects three fundamental criteria when it reviews any veterans’ benefits appeal. Chances are if your claim was denied, it is because your claim missed or was lacking in these requirements.
Be certain you do not repeat the same mistake. Use the following information as you make your appeal.
Three Essential Elements for a Successful Cataract Veterans Benefits Appeal
- A current diagnosis of cataract
- A specific event you experienced while on active duty in the U.S. military that resulted in injury or trauma or that your cataract began while in the service
- A “nexus” (direct “cause and effect” connection) between your service (event) and your cataract diagnosis
Counsel from a veterans’ disability advocate can keep you on track for ensuring that your appeal meets VA’s stringent requirements. Call (888) 373-4722 today to get started.
Appealing Your Denied Claim for Cataract Veterans Benefits
When you step up to serve your country, your country should step up for you. If your cataract is due to your military service or began while you were serving, you deserve to be compensated for this injury.
Start your benefits appeals process today by hiring an advocate who is intimately familiar with VA forms and procedures. By passing the baton to a veterans’ disability advocacy group, you can focus on getting some well-deserved rest. Call (888) 373-4722.