Taste and Smell

The VA awards disability compensation for each Taste and Smell condition that is service-connected. The DoD will also rate service-connected conditions as long as they also make the service member Unfit for Duty. For Reservists, the condition must have occurred in or resulted from an injury in the Line of Duty to qualify.

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The VASRD only allows ratings for the loss of the sense of smell or taste if there is a definite, diagnosed physical or mental cause.

Taste and smell are very closely related. Both the tongue and the salivary glands participate in tasting. The salivary glands, however, are stimulated by the sense of smell. Without it, the sense of taste would be diminished.

Most medical conditions that cause the loss of taste and/or smell are temporary and include the common cold and hay fever. Physical conditions that could cause a permanent loss of taste and smell are rare. They include conditions that obstruct the nasal passages like a tumor or polyps, diseases of the lining of the nose, loss of the tongue, and damage to the brain or nerves (strokes, brain diseases, traumatic brain injuries, etc.).

Mental disorders that may result in the loss of taste or smell include depression and schizophrenia, but this is a very rare side effect. Mental conditions usually do not cause a complete loss of the sense, but rather a change in the perception of the sense (they might think they are smelling something that isn’t there, etc.).

Most medical conditions which result in the permanent loss of taste or smell would cause other disabilities as well. These can be rated separately.

To honor the Pyramiding Principle, ratings under the codes for loss of taste and smell can only be given if the loss of taste and smell is not already covered by the rating for the larger condition. 

The exact ratings for the loss of Taste and Smell can be found on the Taste and Smell Ratings page. 

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Taste and Smell FAQs

How will the VA rate my inability to taste?

The VA uses the rules of the VASRD to rate taste and smell conditions based on loss of use of the sense. Check out our Taste and Smell Ratings page for the exact codes and ratings.

How will the VA rate my inability to smell?

The VA uses the rules of the VASRD to rate taste and smell conditions based on loss of use of the sense. Check out our Taste and Smell Ratings page for the exact codes and ratings.

Are my conditions eligible for a rating?

Your conditions are eligible to be rated by the VA if they are the result of your military service. You must be able to show proof of service-connection for each condition. For the DoD, they will rate your service-connected conditions as long as they also make you Unfit for Duty.

How do I apply to receive my ratings?

If you are still in the military, then you can request your military physician to refer you to the MEB and start the IDES process. If you are already a veteran, you can submit a VA Disability Claim along with evidence of service-connection and all medical records regarding the conditions on the claim.

If my claim is approved, what benefits will I receive?

If you are rated 20% or less from the DoD, then you will receive a single separation payment. If you are rated 30% or more, you will receive full retirement benefits. From the VA, you will receive a monthly payment as well as full medical care from the VA for the qualifying conditions.

How long does it take to receive my disability benefits?

Brand new claims usually take 3-6 months to process. Once processed, you will start receiving payments in 1-3 months.

How are the rating percentages assigned to my conditions?

The rules of the VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) are used to assign rating percentages to conditions. The VASRD gives rating rules for conditions based on their symptoms, treatment options, and the resulting level of disability they cause.

My taste and smell condition wasn't diagnosed until after I was discharged. Can it qualify for VA disability?

The VA can only rate conditions that meet some type of service-connection requirement. For conditions diagnosed after service, the condition must either be a secondary condition caused by another service-connected condition, or it must be on the VA's Presumptive List.