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.

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. 

Return to Top