VA Compensation Appeals for Optic Neuropathy – Everything You Need to Know
Optic neuropathy can make it difficult to keep your job or even perform daily tasks. If you are suffering from optic neuropathy related to your military service, you deserve benefits. Unfortunately, obtaining these benefits is often quite difficult. If the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denied your optic neuropathy veterans benefits claim, a veterans’ disability lawyer may be able to help you appeal the denial.
Call (888) 392-5392 for a free consultation to learn more.
Obtaining Optic Neuropathy Veterans Benefits
To obtain benefits through an appeal, you must establish certain criteria.
A Valid, Current Diagnosis of Your Disabling Condition
You must provide a current, valid diagnosis of optic neuropathy. This is straightforward as you typically only need to obtain your medical records.
An Event That Could Have Caused or Contributed to Your Condition (or Evidence That Your Condition Began in Service)
The second element you must establish is an in-service traumatic event that caused your optic neuropathy or that your optic neuropathy began in service. Optic neuropathy is often a side effect of several different conditions including:
- High blood pressure
If your primary condition is related to your military service, you can recover benefits through secondary service connection. For example, if you developed diabetes after exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War because VA presumes service connection for this condition in relation to Agent Orange exposure, you would be eligible for benefits for your diabetes.
Later, if you develop optic neuropathy due to your diabetes and a doctor can establish your optic neuropathy is a result of your service-connected diabetes, you may be entitled to disability benefits for your optic neuropathy.
A Link Between Your Service and Your Condition
You must be able to show a medical nexus between service and your condition.
To learn more about how a veterans’ disability attorney can help you file a robust appeal, call (888) 392-5392.
How VA Determines the Compensation to Which You Are Entitled
To determine your monthly compensation, VA issues you a disability rating. This rating, which ranges in tiers of 10 percent up to 100 percent, is dependent on the severity of your condition. To obtain this rating, VA uses rating criteria. The rating criteria differ for many conditions.
For optic neuropathy, VA will “evaluate on the basis of either visual impairment due to the particular condition or on incapacitating episodes, whichever results in a higher evaluation.”
There are several rating criteria for visual impairment, depending on several factors, according to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
The criteria for incapacitating episodes are:
- 60 percent: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring 7 or more treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 40 percent: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 5 but less than 7 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 20 percent: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 3 but less than 5 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
- 10 percent: “With documented incapacitating episodes requiring at least 1 but less than 3 treatment visits for an eye condition during the past 12 months”
VA then compares your disability rating to its pay schedule to determine how much you receive each month. The pay schedule, as of December 2019 (for a single Veteran with no dependents), is:
- 10 percent: $142.29 per month
- 20 percent: $281.27 per month
- 30 percent: $435.69 per month
- 40 percent: $627.61 per month
- 50 percent: $893.43 per month
- 60 percent: $1,131.68 per month
- 70 percent: $1,426.17 per month
- 80 percent: $1,657.80 per month
- 90 percent: $1,862.96 per month
- 100 percent: $3,106.04 per month
It is important to note that if your optic neuropathy is not your only service-connected condition, VA will issue what is called a combined disability rating. VA uses a complicated formula to determine this rating. VA will not simply add your ratings together. For example, if you only have a 40 percent disability rating for your diabetes and a 40 percent disability rating for your optic neuropathy, you would not have an 80 percent disability rating.
Obtaining a Higher Disability Rating
In many cases, veterans receive partial approvals to their disability appeals. That is, VA approves their appeal but issues them a lower rating than they deserve. You have the right to appeal this and pursue an increased rating. A veterans’ disability lawyer can help you determine if you have a strong enough case for an appeal. They can also help you strengthen your case.
But be sure to act quickly. VA only gives you a short period of time to file an appeal. Call (888) 392-5392 to get started.
Get Help from a Veterans’ Disability Lawyer Today: (888) 392-5392
If VA denied your optic neuropathy veterans benefits claim, do not give up. You can appeal the VA’s decision, and a VA disability law firm can help. Call (888) 392-5392 to learn more about how a veterans’ disability attorney can help. The consultation is free, and you pay nothing unless the attorney is successful in recovering benefits for you. *