Veterans are more likely than civilians to develop hypertension due to the stress they face during active military service. Because high blood pressure often causes additional health problems, many veterans wonder if they can qualify for VA disability benefits. Since your condition must be service-related to get your VA disability for hypertension claim approved, we’ll explain the process below.
The Risks of Hypertension
Every heartbeat pumps blood through your body’s arteries. Blood pressure measures the amount of force exerted on artery walls throughout your circulatory system. So when your blood pressure rises to higher-than-normal levels, your heart works much harder to circulate blood through your body. Ideal blood pressure numbers stay consistently below 120/80 (the top number’s called “systolic,” and the bottom one’s called “diastolic”). If your blood pressure usually ranges anywhere from 120/80 to 129/89, you may have what’s known as “prehypertension.” Below are the American Heart Association’s current number ranges for diagnosing hypertension:
- 130/80-130/89: High blood pressure, stage 1. If this describes you, ask your doctor to conduct a 10-year heart disease and stroke assessment. With a risk of 10% or less, you can likely control your BP with medication and lifestyle changes. Schedule a follow-up visit to reassess your status in 3-6 months.
- 140/90 or higher: High blood pressure, stage 2. Your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes, prescribe two or more blood pressure medications and monthly follow-ups. Once your BP’s under control, your doctor may potentially decrease your medications. Losing weight, eating less salt, drinking less alcohol, regular exercise and not smoking can help improve your blood pressure.
Hypertension can lead to long-term adverse health effects, including heart attacks, strokes, aneurysms, and even heart failure. The 2016 National Veteran Health Equity Report shows hypertension is the number-one diagnosed condition among veterans. In fact, high blood pressure affects 51% of veterans, on average.
VA Disability for Hypertension: Claim Eligibility Requirements
Your physician must clearly document your high blood pressure diagnosis before you can get a VA disability for hypertension rating. To file your VA disability for hypertension claim, you must:
- Get a release of information form from your doctor to complete and submit along with your claim. If your healthcare provider doesn’t have this form, that’s okay! Download Forms 21-4142 and 21-414a to complete and submit along with your VA disability for hypertension claim.
- If you have federal records from any agency, say that on both VA Forms 21-4141a and 21-4142. Don’t worry about your Service Treatment Records (STRs) from VA medical hospitals or facilities. The VA already has access to those and can pull them automatically.
Your doctor should measure your blood pressure twice or more daily on three different days to accurately diagnose your condition. The VA also asks for relevant information about any additional hypertension-related health problems. Your physician should include a detailed medical history and any conditions, symptoms, etc. that may influence the VA’s determination decision. The VA also wants to hear your doctor’s professional opinion on whether hypertension affects your ability to work.
What Determines Your Hypertension VA Rating?
The claim examiner reviews your medical history and physician’s opinion before assigning a VA disability for hypertension rating. Below are the ratings that determine your VA high blood pressure compensation, according to the agency’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities page:
- 60% if your diastolic pressure’s usually 130 or higher (the top number)
- 40% if your diastolic pressure’s consistently 120 or higher
- 20% if your diastolic pressure’s usually 110 or higher, or systolic pressure’s usually 200 or more (the bottom number)
- 10% if your diastolic pressure’s usually 100 or higher (or your systolic pressure’s 160 or more) while under control with prescription medication
These rating percentages help claim examiners determine whether you may qualify for monthly VA disability for hypertension benefits. If your combined disability rating’s 30% or higher and you have a spouse, child or dependent parent, then the VA may increase your monthly payments.
Do You Have Undiagnosed Hypertension? Check These Symptoms
Regular blood pressure readings are the best way to know whether you’re in danger of developing hypertension. However, some signs and symptoms typically associated with hypertension include:
- Chronic headaches
- Dizziness/loss of balance
- Difficulty with vision
- Abnormal fatigue
- Chest pain
- Problems catching your breath or general difficulty breathing
- Irregular or abnormal heartbeat (i.e., arrhythmia or tachycardia)
- Blood in urine
Your doctor must document your high blood pressure diagnosis before you file a VA disability for hypertension claim. Without sufficient medical evidence to support your VA disability for hypertension claim, your request for benefits may result in denial. For more information on hypertension symptoms, management strategies and nutrition, read Blood Pressure Down: The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 4 Weeks — Without Prescription Drugs.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
If you’re a veteran with high blood pressure, then you may qualify for VA disability for hypertension benefits. Since nearly 1 in 10 veterans filing claims receive the wrong VA disability rating, why not talk to a VA-accredited attorney first? You can sign up for a free, no-obligation consultation today and get confidential advice about your claim. This can happen over the phone, costs nothing and helps you avoid costly as well as time-consuming mistakes. In fact, if your case doesn’t win, you owe your lawyer $0 in legal fees. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.