VA Disability Ratings for Thyroid Diseases

What Veterans Need to Know About Hypothyroidism & Other Thyroid Disorders

As a veteran, you've faced your fair share of challenges. But grappling with a thyroid disorder and the VA claims process? That's a whole new battlefield. Let's dive into the world of VA disability ratings for thyroid conditions, focusing on hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Graves' disease. By the end of this guide, you'll be armed with the knowledge to tackle your claim head-on.

Contact Us


How Does the VA Rate Thyroid Disorders?

Before we jump into ratings, let's get our bearings. The thyroid gland, that butterfly-shaped powerhouse in your neck, orchestrates your body's metabolism. When it goes off-key, you're looking at one of two scenarios:

  • Hypothyroidism: Your thyroid's playing it too cool, slowing down your body's processes. Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, and cold sensitivity.
  • Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid's in overdrive, speeding everything up. You might experience rapid heartbeat, weight loss, and anxiety.

Graves' disease, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, deserves a special mention. It's an autoimmune disorder that makes your thyroid work overtime. Symptoms can include bulging eyes and skin issues.

But wait, there's more. Thyroid cancer, while less common, is another condition veterans should be aware of. It often presents as a lump in the neck and can affect thyroid function.

Contact Us


The VA's Ratings for Thyroid Conditions

The VA rates thyroid conditions under 38 CFR § 4.119, Diagnostic Codes 7900-7906. Ratings for hypothyroidism differs slightly from other VA ratings. For hypothyroidism, the VA assigns an initial rating which will be removed 6 months after your diagnosis. After this 6 month period, the rating will be removed and the VA will assess each of the symptoms that linger as a result to the corresponding body function.

Hypothyroidism (Diagnostic Code 7903):

  • 100%: This rating will be assigned if hypothyroidism presents with myxedema (muscular weakness, cardiovascular involvement, cold intolerance, or mental disturbance). This rating will last only until 6 months after the myxedema is considered stable.
  • 30%: This rating will be assigned if hypothyroidism presents without myxedema. This rating will last 6 months from diagnosis, after which body functions that have lingering impairments will be rated separately.
  • 0%: After myxedema has been stable for 6 months, OR 6 months after a diagnosis of hypothyroidism without myxedema, the rating from hypothyroidism itself will go to 0%. Veterans can still receive ratings for the body functions that are impaired as a result of hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism (Diagnostic Code 7900) and Graves' Disease:

  • 30%: Similar to the rating for hyperthyroidism, this rating will last for 6 Months after the Diagnosis of Graves’ Disease after which point ratings will need to be assigned to the appropriate body function.

For Graves' disease, the VA often focuses on the eye symptoms (Graves' ophthalmopathy) when determining ratings. Severe eye involvement could push your rating higher.

Thyroid Cancer (Diagnostic Code 7914):

  • 100%: Thyroid cancer is initially assigned a rating of 100% and that rating is retained throughout treatment. Upon the concussion of successful treatment, there is a 6 month period for which this rating with be retained. After that 6 month period a follow up assessment and lingering effects are typically rated as a part of this corresponding body function.

After that year, the VA will rate any residual effects. For instance, if you've had your thyroid removed and now have hypothyroidism, you'll be rated under the hypothyroidism criteria.

Remember, these ratings aren't set in stone. The VA will evaluate your specific symptoms and how they impact your daily life. Keep a symptom journal - it could be crucial evidence for your claim.

Thyroid Presumptive Conditions

Some thyroid conditions get a fast pass in the VA claims process. They're called presumptive conditions, and they're a big deal for Gulf War veterans and those exposed to Agent Orange.

Gulf War Presumptives: Is hypothyroidism a Gulf War presumptive? You bet. If you served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations and developed hypothyroidism, the VA presumes it's service-connected. No need to prove a direct link. This applies to veterans who served:

  • In Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or other countries in that area
  • In Operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm
  • On or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan, Djibouti, or Uzbekistan

Agent Orange and Thyroid Disorders: The plot thickens when it comes to Agent Orange. While hypothyroidism isn't currently on the presumptive list, recent studies suggest a link. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine upgraded the association between hypothyroidism and Agent Orange exposure from "inadequate or insufficient" to "limited or suggestive" in 2016.

The PACT Act, signed into law in 2022, expanded the list of presumptive conditions for Agent Orange exposure. Keep an eye on this space – hypothyroidism might join the list soon. If you're a Vietnam-era veteran with hypothyroidism, it's worth filing a claim even if it's not yet presumptive. You're building a record that could pay off if the policy changes.

Secondary Conditions Related to Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid disorders don't play solo. They often bring along unwelcome guests:

  • Depression: Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism can affect mood.
  • Anxiety: Particularly common with hyperthyroidism.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Thyroid hormones affect heart function.
  • Weight problems: Hypothyroidism can lead to weight gain, hyperthyroidism to weight loss.
  • Sleep disorders: Thyroid imbalances can disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Cognitive issues: Often called "brain fog" by thyroid patients.

These secondary conditions can significantly impact your overall disability rating. Don't overlook them when filing your claim. If your thyroid condition is service-connected, these secondary issues should be too.

Contact Us


Thyroid Affecting Military Service

Thyroid disorders can throw a wrench in military readiness. Hyperthyroidism, in particular, can lead to military discharge if it interferes with duty performance. Symptoms like rapid heartbeat, tremors, and anxiety can make it challenging to perform military duties safely.

If you're facing a medical board for thyroid issues, know your rights and options. You may be able to continue serving with proper treatment. If discharge is inevitable, ensure your medical records clearly document the onset and progression of your thyroid condition while in service. This documentation will be crucial for your VA claim.

Thyroid Presumptive Conditions

Some veterans may have had their thyroid removed (thyroidectomy) due to cancer or other severe thyroid conditions. The VA has specific considerations for these cases:

  • Initially, you'll likely receive a 100% rating for a year after the surgery.
  • After that, you'll be rated based on residual effects.
  • If you had thyroid cancer, regular follow-ups are crucial. Any recurrence could affect your rating.

The VA rating for thyroid removal typically aligns with the hypothyroidism rating, as you'll need lifelong thyroid hormone replacement.

Tips for Filing Your VA Claim for Hypothyroidism

Ready to file your claim? Here's your battle plan:

  1. Gather your evidence: Medical records, service records, and buddy statements are your ammunition. Include any documentation of symptoms during service, even if you weren't diagnosed then.
  2. Get a current diagnosis: A recent thyroid function test is crucial. Make sure it includes TSH, T3, and T4 levels.
  3. Connect the dots: Show how your service led to your thyroid condition. If you're claiming based on Gulf War service or Agent Orange exposure, highlight those details.
  4. Document impact on daily life: How does your thyroid condition affect your work, relationships, and daily activities? This information can influence your rating.
  5. Include secondary conditions: If you're experiencing related issues like depression or heart problems, include those in your claim.
  6. Consider a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ): This form, filled out by your doctor, can provide the VA with the exact information they need.
  7. Don't go it alone: Consider working with a Veterans Service Organization or a VA-accredited claims agent. They know the system and can help you navigate it.

Remember, if your claim gets denied, don't wave the white flag. You have the right to appeal. Many claims are approved on appeal, so don't give up.

Contact Us


PACT Act and Future Developments

The PACT Act of 2022 expanded benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. While it doesn't currently include thyroid conditions, it has set a precedent for recognizing more conditions as presumptive. Keep an eye on future updates - they could affect your claim.

Resources for Veterans with Thyroid Conditions

Knowledge is power when it comes to managing your thyroid condition and navigating the VA system. Here are some resources to keep in your arsenal:

  • The official source for VA benefits information.
  • Veterans Health Library: Offers comprehensive information on thyroid disorders.
  • National Veterans Legal Services Program: Provides free legal help to veterans and active duty personnel.
  • Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association: Offers support and information for thyroid cancer patients and survivors.

Remember, your health comes first. While pursuing your VA claim, don't neglect your medical care. Regular check-ups and proper management of your thyroid condition are crucial, regardless of your disability rating.

Contact Us


You Fought For Your Country, Let Us Fight for You.

Navigating VA disability ratings for thyroid disorders isn't a walk in the park. But armed with this knowledge, you're ready to tackle the claims process head-on. Remember, these benefits aren't a handout – they're a hard-earned right.

Whether you're dealing with the sluggishness of hypothyroidism, the jitters of Graves' disease, or the aftermath of thyroid cancer, don't let the VA claims process intimidate you. You fought for your country; now let the system work for you.

Got questions? Feeling overwhelmed? Don't go it alone. Reach out to Veterans Disability Aid. You deserve an advocate who fights as hard for your benefits as you fought for your country. Contact us today to begin your appeal and get the compensation you deserve.

Get Help For Your Appeal


Connect With Us

Request Help Today