The Digestive System
The Digestive System Overview
The VA awards disability compensation for each Digestive System condition that is service-connected. The DoD will also rate service-connected Digestive System 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 Digestive System is a network of organs that turn food into nutrients (absorbed into the body) or waste (ejected as feces). The Digestive System is made up of the lips, mouth, tongue, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine/colon, rectum, and anus.
Since the Digestive System is fairly extensive, the VASRD offers rating options that cover everything from an injury to the lips to the inability to pass waste through the large intestine.
To honor the Pyramiding Principle, only a single rating can be given for multiple Digestive System conditions unless they cause distinctly separate symptoms. In cases where multiple Digestive System conditions cause similar symptoms, the conditions will be rated once using all of the symptoms combined together, and the VA will choose the single code they feel best covers the overall Digestive System disability (see The Digestive System Ratings page for further details).
Digestive System Condition Ratings
The VASRD offers ratings for the following conditions of the Digestive System:
- Conditions of the Mouth and Tongue (not including the teeth, jaws, and palates)
- Conditions of the Esophagus
- Conditions of the Stomach
- Conditions of the Pancreas
- Conditions of the Gallbladder
- Conditions of the Liver (including Hepatitis)
- Conditions of the Intestines (Colon)
- Conditions of the Rectum and Anus
- Conditions of the Abdomen and Peritoneum
- Cancer and Tumors of the Digestive System
If a condition is not directly listed, it is rated under the code that best describes it or its dominant symptoms.
Ratings for conditions of the Mouth and Teeth not included in the Digestive System can be found on the Mouth and Teeth page.
In addition to or instead of the standard disability compensation for Digestive System conditions, the complete inability to speak may also qualify for Special Monthly Compensation.
How will the VA rate my Digestive System condition?
The VA uses the rules of the VASRD to rate Digestive System conditions based on the symptoms that they cause. Check out our Digestive System Ratings page for the exact codes and ratings.
My 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.
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 for my thigh muscles?
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 conditions have worsened. How do I increase my rating percentages?
If your conditions have worsened since you last applied and now qualify for a higher rating, you can submit a new claim, checking the box for an increased evaluation.