VA Denied Your Hypertension Claim — What Now?

VA Denied Your Hypertension Claim — What Now?
Jonathan Heiden can help you with your hypertension VA claim. Jonathan C. Heiden is an attorney at West & Dunn representing veterans at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

VA Ratings for Hypertension

Veterans often struggle to receive service-connected disability benefits for hypertension. Often, this happens because a veteran has in-service blood pressure readings that are elevated but fail to meet the readings that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requires.

However, it’s essential to know that just because an elevated blood pressure reading from active service does not meet the VA’s requirements, that does not allow the VA to deny a veteran’s claim.

Is Hypertension a VA Disability?

Hypertension is a medical condition that involves high blood pressure. While it can lead to various health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure, having hypertension alone does not qualify for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

To receive VA disability benefits, a veteran must have a service-connected disability, meaning the disability must have occurred or been aggravated during military service. If a veteran can establish that their hypertension is related to their military service, they may be eligible for disability compensation.

However, the VA will deny a claim for disability compensation if there is not enough evidence to support a service connection between the veteran's hypertension and their military service. This can be a challenging process, especially if the veteran did not seek medical treatment for hypertension while on active duty or if they have other risk factors for hypertension, such as obesity or a family history of the condition.

Additionally, the VA may deny a claim for disability compensation if the veteran's hypertension is not severe enough to cause functional impairment. For example, suppose a veteran's hypertension is well-controlled with medication and does not limit their ability to work or perform daily activities. In that case, they may not meet the VA's criteria for disability compensation.

In summary, hypertension can result in having your VA claim denied if there is not enough evidence to establish a service connection or if the condition is not severe enough to cause functional impairment.

What Is the VA Rating for High Blood Pressure?

VA regulations do not agree with current standards for diagnosing hypertension.

VA requires that a veteran’s blood pressure readings must have a diastolic reading that is “predominantly 90mm or greater” and /or a systolic reading that is “predominantly 160mm. or greater with a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90mm.”

The VA ratings for hypertension are significantly higher than the standards provided by the American Heart Association. Not only does the agency require the blood pressure readings to be greater than what is used by the American Heart Association, but it also requires that the initial blood pressure reading be “confirmed by readings taken two or more times on at least three different days.”

This means, for those still in active service, that if a military doctor does not recognize an elevated blood pressure reading and conduct additional blood pressure tests that would meet the VA’s regulations, a veteran is left in a difficult position after he or she leaves service.

Elevated Blood Pressure Readings Are Still Favorable Evidence

Veterans in this position are not out of luck. There are two important things to remember:

  1. Do not let VA convince you that your hypertension claim is weak solely because you do not have blood pressure readings that meet the agency’s regulations. Blood pressure readings that meet the American Heart Association’s requirements are still favorable evidence that may provide a way for VA to grant service connection.
  2. It is possible for VA to grant service connection for hypertension even if you did not have blood pressure readings that met its requirements while in service. There are other ways to show that your hypertension is connected to service even if your service records do not include enough blood pressure readings to satisfy VA’s requirements.

All of this means that a veteran with a hypertension diagnosis who has elevated blood pressure readings while in service should not be discouraged from pursuing a claim for VA benefits.

VA requires much more than both the American Heart Association or the American College of Cardiology to diagnosis hypertension. Also, VA may fail to recognize that elevated blood pressure readings that do not meet their requirements are still favorable evidence that it must consider.

Don’t Give Up On Your VA Claim for High Blood Pressure

If you have a diagnosis of hypertension — from either a military, VA, or private doctor — and you had elevated blood pressure readings while you were in service, do not stop appealing VA’s denial of your claim merely because you do not meet their overly-difficult requirements.

If you have questions about VA’s high blood pressure requirements or other matters related to service-connected disability claims, please feel free to call our Wisconsin VA disability attorneys at (608) 490-9449 or contact us online.

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