The Heart Overview
The VA awards disability compensation for each 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 Heart is a vital organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the entire body. Thus, its conditions can have serious and far-reaching effects. The organ itself is complex, consisting of chambers, valves, arteries, and veins, all controlled by electric signals that allows it to effectively pump blood.
Because of its complexity, the VASRD offers rating options that mainly focus on the it’s ability to pump blood, although other options, like the need for continuous medication or the need for a pacemaker, are also considered.
To honor the Pyramiding Principle, only a single rating can be given for multiple Heart conditions since it is basically impossible to separate the symptoms of multiple conditions. In situations where multiple conditions are present, it will be rated using all of the symptoms combined together to reflect the overall functioning of the Heart. The VA will choose the code they feel best covers the overall disability (see The Heart Ratings page).
Heart Condition Ratings
The VASRD offers ratings for the following conditions of the Heart:
- Valvular heart disease
- Myocardial infarction (“heart attack”)
- Surgeries (bypass, transplants, valve replacements, pacemakers, etc.)
- Abnormal heart rhythms (sustained ventricular arrhythmias, supraventricular arrhythmias, etc. )
- Pericardial adhesions
- Heart diseases
- Atrioventricular block
If a condition is not directly listed on the Heart Ratings page, it is rated under the code that best describes it or its dominant symptoms.
How will the VA rate my Heart condition?
The VA uses the rules of the VASRD to rate conditions based on the level of disability they cause. Check out our Heart 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. The only ways to prove service-connection after service is for the condition to either be a secondary condition or on the VA's Presumptive List.
Can my artery condition be rating in addition to my heart condition?
Yes. As long as each condition produces clearly different, distinct symptoms, they can be rated separately. If they share any symptoms, however, the symptom can only be used to rate one of the conditions without violating the Pyramiding Principle.
How do I apply to receive a rating for my condition?
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. The exact amount of monthly benefits depends on your Total Combined Rating.
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.