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How to Get Diabetic Neuropathy Service-Connected by the VA

Tucker Law Group
November 5, 2020

Has your claim for neuropathy been denied by the VA? This may be due to a failure to establish that your neuropathy is service-connected. This informative video will explain how to do just that. 

If you did not experience neuropathy while in the service, then your condition does not meet the requirements for direct service connection. However, if your condition is the result of another condition (or treatment for that condition), as in the example of neuropathy caused by diabetes, then it needs to be established that your diabetic neuropathy has secondary service connection. 

Secondary service connection is a way to use a previously service-connected claim to establish that another condition resulted from it. Secondary service connection in this example means your diabetes (which is already established by the VA to have direct service connection) caused your neuropathy. Many veterans make the mistake of failing to specify diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to the denial of their initial claim. Your appeal should seek to clarify that point to the VA. 

Diabetic neuropathy can include experiences of shooting pains into or numbness in extremities. These symptoms might be described as moderately severe, and the way a doctor describes your condition is important to how the condition is rated. 

Establishing your neuropathy as secondarily service-connected can increase your rating by adding it to your already-directly established service-connected conditions, and this can increase your benefits. The VA rating system can be complex, so we encourage you to review our video on VA Math 101 to better understand how the VA determines and combines your ratings. 

If you have a claim that has been denied for Secondary Service Connection for neuropathy, I want you to call me at (866) 233-5044 to discuss your case. We handle VA Disability cases every day. 

Video Transcript
How to get diabetic neuropathy service connected by the VA. I'm John Tucker, and I'm a veteran's disability attorney, and I want to tell you a story today about a client of mine named Robert. Robert came to us having already been rated for diabetes. He was in Vietnam and he was exposed to agent orange, so he had a presumption and that was service connected. He actually had a 20% rating for that because he took insulin once a day and he managed to control it with his diet and exercise. However, years later, he developed diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy is a neurological problem that can develop in the extremities, the arms and the legs. In Robert's case, he had shooting pains that went into his feet and he had numbness that alternated with that, so sometimes he couldn't even feel his feet. His doctor described it as moderately severe, and that's actually important because the way the doctor describes a condition comes into play when it gets rated. Robert's problem was VA had denied his claim for service connection for the diabetic neuropathy.

When he originally filed the claim, he hadn't told the VA that it was diabetic neuropathy, he just said neuropathy. VA denied the claim saying, "Well, when you were in the service, you never had neuropathy. So you never had any instance of the original occurrence while you were in the service." That's required for direct service connection. Robert's claim was actually based on secondary service connection, the diabetes, which was service connected, led to the neuropathy. It caused the neuropathy. We appealed the claim for Robert, explained to VA in our appeal package that it was diabetes that caused the neuropathy and it was secondary service connection. Secondary service connection is a way to use a previously service connected claim to demonstrate that another condition that came downstream resulted from it. The VA actually approved his claim and assigned a 40% rating for his diabetic neuropathy. Now in that situation, because Robert had only been rated at 20%, the VA had to combine the two.

So they looked at his 40% rating, which they consider first and then combined it with the 20%. they use the 40, because it's the larger rating. I've got a separate video on VA math, so I encourage you to watch that to understand that. The 40% and the 20% combine in the VA system to be 50%, so Robert's payment increased significantly. That increase added a lot more money into his household every month, just because he was able to get the secondary service connected condition. Keep in mind that Robert can always go back in the future and file a claim for an increased rating, either for the diabetes or for the neuropathy if his conditions get worse and move him up to the next level, that should be rated under the diagnostic code. Secondary service connection can help you connect your diabetic neuropathy or other conditions that come downstream from your diabetes. If you have a claim that's denied for secondary service connection for neuropathy, call our law firm at the number on your screen. We help veterans like you every day and we've handled hundreds of neuropathy claims. My name is John Tucker, thanks for watching.