Tuberculosis

Topics:

Pulmonary Tuberculosis
Nonpulmonary Tuberculosis
Other Tuberculous Conditions
DBQ for Tuberculous
Principles that Apply

Reminder: The VA will give a Military Disability Rating for each service-connected condition a service member has, but the DoD will only rate service-connected conditions that make a service member Unfit for Duty.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary) but can also affect other organs (nonpulmonary). It is caused by an air-borne bacteria and causes symptoms like coughing, fever, sweating, and weight loss.

 


Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Note: A rating for pulmonary tuberculosis cannot be combined with a rating for another respiratory disease condition (codes 6600-6847). Only one rating can be given. The condition that is the most severe or dominant is the condition that is to be rated, whether or not a rating under another condition would be higher. If the condition that does not get rated significantly affects the overall health, then the rating for the condition that is rated can be increased to the next higher rating.

For example, if there is pulmonary tuberculosis, code 6730, and chronic bronchitis, code 6600, then only one can be rated. Let’s say the tuberculosis is mild, with very few symptoms, and the bronchitis makes it extremely difficult to breathe. Since it is clearly the cause of the disability, the bronchitis would be the condition that is rated. Now, in this example, if the tuberculosis is moderately severe, but the bronchitis is severe, the bronchitis is still rated, but the tuberculosis is serious enough to increase the bronchitis rating to the next rating level (e.g. from 30% to 60%, the next highest rating).

Code 6732: Tuberculous pleurisy is an infection of the lining of the lungs which results in them swelling and developing hard growths. This results in pain when breathing. This condition is rated either under code 6730 if it is currently active or 6731 if it is inactive. The final code will look like this: 6732-6730. The first four-digit code defines the condition as tuberculous pleurisy, and the second four-digit code tells how it is rated.

Code 6730: All other pulmonary tuberculoses are rated under this code. If active, they are rated 100%.

As soon as the pulmonary tuberculosis becomes inactive, the VA will require another examination for rating purposes. This does not apply to the DoD. Most likely, the DoD will keep the service member on TDRL until the tuberculosis becomes inactive, at which point they will return them to active duty or separate them with a permanent rating.

If the pulmonary tuberculosis is considered NOT service-connected, then it is not ratable UNLESS at least one of the following is also present or has occurred:

– Active nonpulmonary tuberculosis
– Severe symptoms
– The tuberculosis was cured and then it came back
– Lung lesions are continually getting worse despite treatment
– If after being hospitalized for 6 months, the lesions and condition are not improving, or if after being hospitalized for 12 months, the condition is still active.

Code 6731: Inactive pulmonary tuberculosis is rated on the lasting symptoms or complications. If it causes heart disease or interstitial lung disease, then it will be rated on those conditions. Obstructive lung disease is rated as chronic bronchitis, and a thoracoplasty is rated under code 5297.

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Nonpulmonary Tuberculosis

All nonpulmonary tuberculosis is rated on the same system. If it is active, it is rated 100%. Once it is inactive, the 100% rating will continue for 1 year, after which the condition will be rated based on the lasting symptoms or complications. If it causes limited motion, amputation, etc., each are separately rated as long as they affect different body parts or different functions. For example, if tuberculosis affects the knee and the elbow, both can be rated separately. If, however, it affects the stability of the knee and the range of motion of the knee, only the one that gives the highest rating for that body part can be used.

The final code will have two codes and will look like this: 6311-5003. The first four-digit code defines the condition as miliary tuberculosis and the second four-digit code tells us that it is rated under code 5003.

Here are the nonpulmonary tuberculosis conditions:

Code 5001: Tuberculosis of the bones and joints can affect any part of the musculoskeletal system. It is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis.

Code 6010: Tuberculosis of the eye is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis, and any residuals, like visual impairment or disfigurement, are rated separately.

Code 6311: Miliary tuberculosis is tuberculosis that began in the lungs but then traveled to other parts of the body. This condition would be rated for both pulmonary and nonpulmonary tuberculosis. (Their 100% ratings, however, cannot be combined during the 1-year period after inactivity. Their symptoms or complications, however, can be rated during that period instead of waiting for reevaluation at the 1-year mark).

Code 6515: Tuberculous laryngitis is a tuberculous infection of the larynx in the throat. It is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis.

Code 7331: Tuberculosis of the peritoneum causes swelling, irritation, and significant pain across the abdomen. This condition is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis, and any residuals are either rated under adhesions of the peritoneum or on how they affect specific organs in the abdomen.

Code 7505: Tuberculosis of the kidney is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis, and then the additional symptoms are rated based on the renal rating system.

Code 7525: Epididymo-orchitis is pain in the epididymis. If the pain is the result of a tubercular infection, then it is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis. The left over symptoms or complications are then rated as a urinary tract infection.

Code 7710: Tuberculous adenitis (or “scrofula”) is a tuberculous infection of the lymph nodes in the neck. It is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis.

Code 7811: Tuberculosis luposa is a skin condition that causes severe sores, tears, and scarring on the face. This condition is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis, and any residuals are rated as scars/disfigurement.

Code 7911: Tuberculous Addison’s Disease is a condition where the adrenal glands do not produce enough steroid hormones because of a tubercular infection. This condition is rated as nonpulmonary tuberculosis. The left over symptoms or complications are then rated under the non-tuberculous Addison’s Disease ratings if possible, or under the main (only 1 rating allowed) symptom and complication itself, whichever would provide a higher rating.

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Other Tuberculous Conditions

All other tuberculous conditions will be rated analogously (see the Analogous and Equivalent Codes page) with the above ratings. The bottom line rule is to rate any condition under the code that BEST describes it, even if it is not exact.

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DBQ for Tuberculosis

Here is the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) used for tuberculosis: Tuberculosis DBQ.

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Principles that Apply

Probative Value: If two exams record the condition differently, the exam with the most thorough data and performed by the most qualified person in that specialty will be the exam the rating is based on.

A Tie Goes to the Veteran If there are two equally strong exams with conflicting information, or if the condition can be equally rated under two different codes, then the one that gives the highest rating will be assigned. Every conflict should be resolved in favor of the higher rating.

Accurate Measurements: It is essential that the necessary information to rate your condition is recorded by the physician in your exam. With the information on this page, you should know what needs to be measured and recorded. Make sure this happens correctly to ensure that you receive a proper rating.

Hospital or Convalescent Ratings: A rating of 100% is given while a patient is undergoing active treatment for the condition. Some patients may need more time to recover than others, and thus the time limits of three months and the like could be lengthened by the physician and Rating Authorities if they see fit.

Please see the VASRD Principles page for further guidance.

For other infectious diseases, see the Infectious Diseases and Immune Disorders page.

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