In a VA Diabetes Claim, how many ways can the Veteran show that his/her diabetes is related to military service?
There are several, and which one you use will be driven largely by how your Diabetes presents itself in your unique medical picture.
Let’s start from the top.
What is Diabetes?
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.
Diabetes is not – as commonly believed – something that only fat people get.
Common Problems in the VA Diabetes Claim.
Typically, RO will conclude that diabetes — or symptoms of diabetes — did not appear to a compensable degree within one year of discharge from the military.
Another common error occurs when the VA Rater – or the BVA – 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.
Service Connection in the VA Diabetes Claim.
For Veterans who are trying to establish service connection for Diabetes, there are at many ways to skin the proverbial cat. Here are 4:
2) Locate all references to the early symptomatology of diabetes in the military service and military medical records
3) Get copies of all of your private and post-service medical records.
4) Build a “chain” showing that the symptomatology of diabetes that first appeared in service continued from discharge until the actual diagnosis of diabetes.
To show that diabetes is secondary to another condition there must be some other injury which is already service connected, or which can be service-connected, and which is the cause of the Veteran’s diabetes.
I have seen many try to attempt this proof, and very few are successful.
#3: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.
#4: Agent Orange Exposure.
On November 9, 2000, the VA announced that Vietnam veterans with Type-II diabetes would now be eligible for disability compensation.
What Symptomatology should you look for?
When building evidence to prove your VA Diabetes Claim using some of the methods above, you must show that the symptoms of your condition first appeared in service, and continuously appeared from discharge to diagnosis.
For Type I Diabetes, look 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, look 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.
As always, take note of some of the more common complications of Diabetes. As the graphic in this post illustrates, there are a number of medical conditions that result from Diabetes – treated or untreated.
Always consider a claim for secondary service-connection of any conditions that you believe were caused by your service-connected Diabetes.
One last thought for y’all.
When my wife was pregnant with our youngest in 2012, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
With all that was going on in the house with the kids and work, we needed help cooking quick meals for her regulated diet. She found this cookbook VERY helpful; I thought that ther meals in it were pretty darn good, too: Diabetic Living Quick & Easy Meals.
(Let me know if you like it, and I’ll keep the link here for others).
What else would you like to know about Service-Connection of Diabetes?
Tell me in the comments section below – I would like to add more resources to the Veterans VA Claims University – help me make those resources valuable to you and other Veterans by telling me what kind of help you need to improve your VA Diabetes Claim.