Constrictive bronchiolitis is a common respiratory disease affecting millions of Veterans, and the VA uses its own disability ratings system to determine if you are eligible for financial compensation. Even if you are not familiar with the medical term “constrictive bronchiolitis,” you may still have it and deserve disability compensation – which can potentially be worth thousands of dollars a month. Speak with a VA compensation lawyer to discuss your options.
Two Key Things to Know
There are two key things to know in this regard.
- How much you are eligible to receive in monthly disability payments is based on your VA rating. It is calculated based on your doctor’s medical reports, diagnostic tests, and how much the disease impacts you. You can also get a higher rating and higher monthly payments if you have dependents like a spouse or children, once you reach the 30 percent combined rating level.
- A powerful new federal law, the PACT Act, was enacted in 2022. This law makes it much easier for Vets to qualify for and receive compensation for respiratory illnesses, without having to present as much evidence as the VA used to require.
First, let’s look at how the VA disability rating system works and why the PACT Act is one of the biggest improvements in VA disability compensation in a very long time – especially for those who suffer from respiratory conditions such as constrictive bronchiolitis.
Our VA Compensation Lawyer Explains How the VA Rating System Works
VA disability ratings are a scoring system that ranks the severity of your disability. Your rating is based on the degree of disability you experience, if you suffer from multiple conditions that magnify your disability, and factors like how many financial dependents you have.
- The VA rates disabilities on a scale of 0% to 100%.
- The lowest rating that qualifies for financial compensation is 10%, but it can go up to 20%, 30%, 40%, and so on until it reaches the highest rating of 100%.
- If you have multiple conditions contributing to your disability that are tied to your military service, that will raise your rating score.
- The higher the rating, the more monthly financial compensation you are eligible to receive from the VA.
- The VA rating is crucial, because compensation can be as little as about $165 a month at the low end of the rating scale or as much as $3,900 or more at the high end.
It is also important to know that monthly compensation payments are subject to cost of living adjustments, especially during high economic inflation. That’s similar to the way it’s done for Social Security payments. These adjustments help offset the challenge of inflation so that your buying power isn’t significantly diminished but keeps up with inflation.
VA Rating and Scoring for Constrictive Bronchiolitis
Your disability rating is primarily based on the severity of your symptoms and the impact on your ability to work and perform other daily activities. Here are some examples of rating criteria percentages for constrictive bronchiolitis:
- 30% Disability: Symptoms such as chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that limit your physical activity, stamina, and ability to get a decent night’s sleep.
- 60% Disability: Symptoms limit your ability to do the majority of your daily activities that you used to normally do. You may need assistance doing regular activities like errands and chores.
- 100% Disability: Symptoms are so bad that you cannot work or care for yourself. You may need constant help from others and supplemental oxygen to help you breathe.
The VA heavily relies on medical documentation in determining your disability rating. That means it is vital that you candidly and fully share with your doctors information about all of your symptoms, how those adversely impact your life, and whatever discomfort or pain you experience.
Why the PACT Act is Such a Big Deal
The 2022 PACT Act has been called the most important piece of legislation in the history of the VA. Although this description may be debatable, it has several key features:
- Before the law was passed, you had to prove that your respiratory sickness was related to military service.
- Unfortunately, that can be virtually impossible to conclusively prove because there are lots of factors that can cause respiratory illness.
- As a result, millions of Veterans were denied benefits that they should have been entitled to and deserved.
Thanks to this law, the healthcare and disability benefits available to Veterans have been vastly expanded. The law removed many of the biggest obstacles to VA financial compensation for those suffering from respiratory illnesses, such as exposure to burn bits, Agent Orange, and other toxins.
Visit https://www.va.gov/resources/the-pact-act-and-your-va-benefits/ or speak to a VA compensation lawyer for more information about the monumental PACT Act.
There’s No Longer an Unwinnable Battle for Benefits
Now, veterans only have to prove that they were deployed to one of the countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and others where service members were exposed to burn pits and other toxic air pollutants. That’s because when many Veterans have higher rates of certain illnesses, the federal government creates a presumptive category for those illnesses, like constrictive bronchiolitis. So, the burden is no longer on you to prove that your military service caused it. You are automatically presumed to have these illnesses because of your military service. You can learn more about these airborne hazards by visiting the VA’s Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards Website.
Millions of Veterans are Claiming their Benefits
Basically, if you served where you were exposed to burn pits and have since been diagnosed with a serious respiratory illness such as constrictive bronchiolitis, you may be eligible to apply for benefits under the VA’s Burn Pit Registry Program.
That includes service members deployed in the Middle East, starting in Kuwait in 1991 and extending into Afghanistan and Iraq through 2021. The list of deployment locations is extensive, and includes (but is not limited to) Djibouti, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Somalia, and the airspace above those places.
The VA has identified many conditions besides constrictive bronchiolitis that can qualify for disability compensation under the PACT Act due to exposure to toxic air pollutants. The list includes asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, and about a dozen types of cancer.
Make Sure to Successfully File Your Claim
You should understand that even with the passage of the PACT Act, and even if you have definite symptoms ofconstrictive bronchiolitis or related illnesses, there is no guarantee of benefits. You probably already realize that from experiencing the military and other government agencies and bureaucracies.
The paperwork is complicated, and if you don’t submit it correctly or completely, it can cause extreme delays – while you and your family continue to struggle with your illness. Just getting someone to answer your questions or knowing how to fill out your paperwork can be extremely difficult and frustrating. In addition, many claims are denied the first time. If that happens, you will need to file an appeal.
That’s why so many Vets who succeed engage a qualified VA compensation lawyer. They can leverage their knowledge and experience with the VA to make sure that your appeal is a successful VA disability compensation claim − resulting in the maximum amount of monthly financial compensation.