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VA updates disability rating schedule for digestive system

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VA announced March 19 an update to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) specifically pertaining to digestive conditions. The changes add or modify rating criteria for 55 medical conditions in the rating schedule that incorporate medical advancements for treating certain disabilities and modern medical knowledge to compensate veterans more accurately.

The three biggest changes that will impact you, as veterans, include the new evaluations for celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and hemorrhoids.

Beginning May 19, celiac disease - an autoimmune disorder that impacts how the body processes gluten - will have its own rating criteria specifically designed to address its disabling effects. Veterans with this condition were previously granted service connection and evaluated by analogy using rating criteria that ranged from zero to 30 percent. Now under a specific diagnostic code, veterans will be eligible for an evaluation ranging from zero to 80 percent.

VA will also adjust the rating criteria for evaluating irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS. Previously, VA offered zero, 10 and 30 percent evaluations for the condition. Under the new criteria, veterans may be entitled to 10, 20, or 30 percent evaluations based on the frequency of symptoms; therefore, new rating criteria will always offer a compensable evaluation.

Finally, VA addressed the evaluations for both internal and external hemorrhoids. Previously, VA assigned a zero percent evaluation if the condition was identified as mild or moderate. For more severe findings a 10 or 20 percent evaluation was warranted. With the new rating criteria set in the rating schedule, mild or moderate hemorrhoids will now qualify for the 10 percent evaluation.

"These are just a few of the changes being made to how conditions of the digestive system are rated based on updated medical information," said Under Secretary for Benefits Josh Jacobs. "The updates will bring the rating criteria more closely in line with the stated purpose of the rating schedule, which is to provide evaluations based upon average impairment of earning capacity for each and every veteran."

There will be no change to any veteran's current rating based solely on these updates. If you currently receive compensation for a service-connected condition, you can apply for increased compensation. A reduction in evaluation will only occur if there is improvement in a disability sufficient to warrant a reduction under the former criteria. Claims related to these body systems that were pending on May 19 will be considered under both the old and new rating criteria, and whichever criteria is more favorable to the veteran will be applied.

Visit the Federal Register webpage for a full list of the conditions impacted in this schedule change, and VA benefits for more information, or to apply.

Since September 2017, VA has updated the rating schedule for the following body systems:

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