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VA Disability Ratings for Asthma: Assessing Your Qualification

December 11, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • A research article revealed that veterans utilizing VA healthcare were more likely to have lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and COPD.[1]

  • A study found that 134,957 veterans were diagnosed with asthma, which accounted for 3.4% of the total service-connected health conditions.[2]

  • Another study reported an initial rating of 60% for asthma with moderate obstructive lung disease and obstructive sleep apnea.[3]

Understanding asthma's impact on disability ratings is crucial. Asthma primarily affects vital capacity (maximum air exhaled after a deep breath) and forced vital capacity (air volume forcefully exhaled in one second), which are key measures for assessing lung function. 

This is particularly relevant given a study's finding that 134,957 veterans were diagnosed with asthma, representing 3.4% of all service-connected health conditions.[2] This knowledge is vital for those seeking compensation for service-connected asthma, as it directly influences the severity assessment and disability rating.

The VA Rating System for Asthma Explained

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs a rating system that assigns disability ratings based on the severity of the condition and its impact on an individual's daily life. In line with this system, another study reported that an initial rating of 60% is often assigned for asthma with moderate obstructive lung disease and obstructive sleep apnea.[3] This reflects the system's approach to evaluating the extent of impairment and its effect on daily activities.

How VA Ratings are Determined

The VA uses a 0-100% scale, in 10% increments, to rate asthma based on symptom frequency, medication use, pulmonary function tests, hospitalizations, and physical activity limitations.

Evaluating Symptoms and Medication Usage

Symptom severity and medication frequency are key in determining disability ratings, with higher medication needs often indicating more severe asthma.

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs)

PFTs, measuring lung capacity and airflow, are crucial in assessing asthma severity for accurate disability ratings.

Hospitalizations and Physical Activity Limitations

Frequent hospitalizations and significant physical activity restrictions due to asthma can lead to higher disability ratings. Comprehensive medical evidence, including records and test results, is essential for accurate VA disability ratings.

“According to another study, asthma with moderate obstructive lung disease and obstructive sleep apnea were rated at 60% initially.[3]

Establishing Service Connections for Asthma

Asthma, characterized by wheezing and shortness of breath, requires medical documentation for a VA service connection. This is underscored by a research article revealing that veterans utilizing VA healthcare are more likely to have lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and COPD.[1] Diagnosis of these conditions typically involves lung function tests like spirometry.

Service Connection for Asthma

To receive VA benefits, demonstrate a direct link between military service and asthma. This includes "presumptive" conditions like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) related to asthma or "secondary" connections from environmental exposures during service.

Supporting Evidence for Service Connection

Gather medical records and statements from fellow servicemembers to prove the link between asthma and military service. Incident reports and exposure records are also crucial when getting checked. Regular medical treatment and documentation of asthma's severity and treatment are vital for establishing a strong service connection and influencing disability ratings.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining an Asthma Rating

Rates Asthma: Understanding the Severity Levels

To determine a disability rating for asthma, it is important to understand the severity levels associated with the condition. The severity of asthma is typically classified into four categories: mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent. Each category represents a different level of symptoms and limitations experienced by individuals with asthma.

Following Ways: Gathering Evidence for Your Claim

When seeking a disability rating for asthma, it is crucial to gather evidence that supports your claim. There are several ways you can do this:

  1. Medical Records: Provide comprehensive medical records that document your diagnosis, treatment history, and any hospitalizations or emergency room visits related to your asthma.

  2. Specialist Opinions: Obtain opinions from medical specialists such as pulmonologists or allergists who can provide detailed assessments of your condition and its impact on your daily life.

  3. Test Results: Include results from pulmonary function tests (PFTs) or other relevant diagnostic tests that demonstrate the severity of your asthma and its effect on lung function.

  4. Medication History: Document a detailed history of medications prescribed for managing your asthma symptoms, including any side effects or adverse reactions experienced.

  5. Work Limitations: If your asthma affects your ability to work, gather documentation from employers or coworkers that highlights any accommodations made or limitations observed due to your condition.

Start Number: Filing Your Claim with the VA

To begin the process of obtaining a disability rating for asthma through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you will need to file a claim. This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Online Application: Utilize the VA's online application system known as eBenefits to submit your claim electronically. This method allows for quick processing and easy access to status updates on your claim.

  2. Paper Application: Alternatively, you can complete a paper application (VA Form 21-526EZ) and mail it to the VA regional office that handles disability claims in your area.

“It is important to obtain documentation from your employer or coworker of any accommodations made or limitations observed due to your asthma.”

Test: Undergoing a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam

After filing your claim, the VA may require you to undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. This exam is conducted by a VA-appointed medical professional who will assess the severity of your asthma and its impact on your daily life. The results of this exam will play a significant role in determining your disability rating.

During the C&P exam, be prepared to provide detailed information about your symptoms, limitations, and any treatments or medications you are currently using. It is important to be honest and thorough during this examination to ensure an accurate assessment of your condition.

Once the C&P exam is complete, the medical professional will submit their findings to the VA for review. The VA will then use this information, along with any additional evidence you have provided, to determine your disability rating for asthma.

Navigating the Appeals Process for Asthma Ratings

Appeal a Denied Rating

If you have received a denial for your VA disability rating for asthma, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process allows you to present additional evidence or arguments to support your claim and potentially receive a higher rating.

Seek an Independent Medical Examination (IME)

One way to strengthen your appeal is by obtaining an Independent Medical Examination (IME). This involves seeing a physician who is not affiliated with the VA and can provide an unbiased evaluation of your condition. The IME report can serve as valuable evidence in supporting your case for a higher disability rating.

Gather Supporting Documentation

To build a strong case, gather all relevant medical records, test results, and documentation related to your asthma. This includes any hospitalizations, emergency room visits, or specialist consultations. Providing a comprehensive history of your condition will help establish the severity and frequency of your asthma attacks.

Obtain a Nexus Letter

A medical nexus letter is another crucial piece of evidence that can greatly impact the outcome of your appeal. This letter should be written by a qualified physician who can establish the connection between your asthma and service-related factors such as burn pit exposure during military service. A well-written nexus letter can provide the necessary link that connects your condition to your time in service.

“To build a strong case, gather all relevant medical records, test results, and documentation related to your asthma.”

Understand the Decision-Making Process

It's important to familiarize yourself with how VA disability ratings are determined. Ratings are based on various factors, including symptoms, limitations in daily activities, treatment requirements, and frequency of exacerbations or attacks. By understanding these criteria, you can better navigate the appeals process and ensure that all relevant information is presented effectively.

Seek Professional Assistance

Navigating through the appeals process can be complex and overwhelming. Consider seeking assistance from organizations such as Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) or hiring an experienced attorney specializing in VA disability claims. These professionals have extensive knowledge of the system and can guide you through the process, increasing your chances of a successful appeal.

Provide a Detailed Statement

When submitting your appeal, include a detailed statement that explains how your asthma affects your daily life and ability to work. Be specific about the challenges you face due to your condition, such as limitations in physical activities or the need for frequent medical appointments. Providing a comprehensive account of your experience will help paint a clear picture of the impact asthma has on your life.

Stay Persistent and Patient

The appeals process can be lengthy, so it's important to remain persistent and patient throughout. Keep track of all communication with the VA and follow up regularly on the status of your claim. It may take time, but staying proactive will ensure that your appeal receives proper attention.

Remember, each case is unique, and there are no guarantees. However, by following these tips and gathering strong supporting evidence, you increase your chances of receiving a favorable outcome during the appeals process.


In conclusion, understanding the VA disability ratings for asthma is crucial for veterans seeking compensation and benefits for their condition. By providing this information, we hope to empower veterans with the knowledge they need to effectively pursue their VA disability claims for asthma. 

It is important to remember that each case is unique, and seeking assistance from a qualified professional or veterans service organization can greatly enhance the chances of a successful claim. If you or someone you know is struggling with an asthma-related disability claim, don't hesitate to reach out for support and guidance.

Are you curious about denied sleep apnea claims you wish to appeal? Read through our blogs at American Veteran to know more.

Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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