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If you are a veteran who develops Parkinson’s disease, you might find yourself curious as to how Parkinson’s disease can affect VA disability benefits. Generally speaking, VA benefits are a form of tax-free, monthly compensation that the VA pays to veterans who suffer from disabilities related to their military service.

To determine how much compensation an individual veteran gets, the VA gives them a disability rating. Additional disabilities, like Parkinson’s disease, can affect your disability rating.

Parkinson’s disease is one of the many disabilities recognized by the VA. Regardless of whether you are already receiving VA disability benefits, as a veteran developing Parkinson’s, it helps to have some general knowledge about how Parkinson’s disease can affect those benefits. 

Many veterans depend on disability benefits. For those veterans, it is absolutely crucial to understand what changes they can expect from the VA regarding Parkinson’s disease. 

You may have questions like, Is Parkinson’s disease a 100% compensation disability? Or, What factors can impact my Parkinson’s disease disability rating?

If you have these kinds of questions about VA disability benefits and their interaction with Parkinson’s disease, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys. Our VA disability benefits team is always happy to answer your questions and set you in the right direction.

Some General Notes On Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. That means that it adversely affects your brain. Specifically, Parkinson’s disease impairs your brain’s ability to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine affects everything from movement and balance to concentration and mood. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease at this time.

Thus, it makes sense that Parkinson’s disease qualifies as a disability in the eyes of the federal government. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) all consider Parkinson’s disease a covered disability under their respective programs.

Parkinson’s Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

There are quite a few different symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Experienced alone, you might brush off some of the symptoms as minor inconveniences. When the effects start to combine, however, they can significantly impede your ability to live a normal life.

As the symptoms combine, the disease moves into different stages, causing increasing impairment. Some of Parkinson’s disease’s early symptoms include minor things like:

  • Fatigue,
  • Depression,
  • Slurred speech,
  • Changes in handwriting style, and
  • Shakiness.

These are all early signs of Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms worsen over time, leaving many affected individuals unable to walk at a certain point. As you can see, these early signs are hard to spot unless they combine with one another.

If you feel like you might have Parkinson’s, it is critically important to seek a medical evaluation. After all, the VA will not approve your disability benefits application without an adequate medical diagnosis.

As noted, Parkinson’s disease is not a curable disorder. Still, there are ways to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s and minimize its impact on your life. Doctors often take a holistic approach to treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Treatment may include physical therapy, surgery, and prescription medications. More often than not, doctors use several different treatments to mitigate the impact of specific effects.

What Is the VA Disability Rating for Parkinson’s Disease?

Because Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative order, there are several stages that an affected individual can find themselves in. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the VA does not place a specific, set rating on Parkinson’s disease as a whole.

Instead, the VA considers several different factors relevant to each claim to determine your disability benefits rating.

What Impacts Parkinson’s Disease VA Disability Benefits?

There are several factors that can impact your disability benefits rate. Since there are too many potentially relevant factors, we will discuss some of the more common ones.

First, however, we need to look at the general requirements for VA disability benefits eligibility. If you don’t fulfill these requirements, the VA will deny your claim in all likelihood.

To meet eligibility requirements for VA disability benefits, you must establish the following:

  1. You must have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training; and
  2. Generally, you must have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. (But note that veterans receiving undesirable, bad conduct, and other types of dishonorable discharges may qualify depending on a determination made by VA).

Next, you need to show that your condition was related to your military service. You must submit the following:

  1. A current diagnosis of your condition by a certified medical professional;
  2. Documentation that you suffered an injury, an illness, or other debilitating event while in service; and
  3. Documentation demonstrating an identifiable link between the diagnosed condition and your military service.

Essentially, you have to prove that you served in the military, suffered from some illness or event, and subsequently developed a disability because of your military service.

Factors Outside of General Requirements

Outside of the general requirements to qualify for VA disability benefits in the first place, there are several factors the VA looks at. These factors, taken as a whole, dictate the compensation rating you will receive. The benefits are distributed using a rate between 0% and 100% at 10% increments.

The VA uses a complex formula to make their determination. You can find the relevant factors published on their website. Still, here are some of the more notable factors that can increase your disability rating if applicable:

  • If you are suffering from more than one disability at the same time;
  • If your Parkinson’s disease worsens;
  • The way and degree to which Parkinson’s is impeding your life and ability to work;
  • Your age (the older you are, the higher the rate);
  • Changes in Social Security benefits to counter inflation (the VA matches Social Security benefit increases);
  • If you have children, a spouse, and other dependents;
  • If your spouse or dependents have a disability; and
  • If you lose a limb or the ability to use a bodily function (like walking).

All of those factors will impact your VA disability compensation rating. After your initial rating, you can periodically apply to increase your rating.

Similarly, there are some circumstances in which the VA can lower your rating. Typically, rate reductions don’t apply to Parkinson’s disease claims because Parkinson’s worsens over time. Still, it is something you should be aware of.

Contact the VA Disability Benefits Team at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys

Regardless of whether you currently have Parkinson’s disease, if you need help with VA disability benefits, Gerling Law Injury Attorneys has you covered. Since VA benefits are a question of federal law, it doesn’t matter where you live—we can help.

As a team dedicated specifically to VA disability benefits, we know the ins and outs of the claims process. It’s crucial to have experienced help on your side when it comes to these claims as VA benefits are a complex area of law. An attorney without relevant experience may miss an important detail.

Give us a call today for a free consultation, and let’s team up to get you the compensation you deserve. You served our country, and we are here to serve you.

Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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