VA Disability Rating for Heart Disease

Many veterans have questions about heart disease and whether it is connected to their military service.  Coronary Artery Disease, also known as Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease, is the most common type of heart disease in America, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.  Because this type of heart disease is on the list of presumptive Agent Orange diseases, military veterans who served inside Vietnam are presumed to have a nexus between their military service and their heart disease.

But, the Department of Veterans Affairs deciding your disability is service-connected is only the beginning.  The next step is determining the correct disability rating.  This rating determines how much your monthly disability payments will be.  In reviewing the claims of veterans with heart-related service-connected disabilities, our VA disability attorneys have noticed blatant errors in how the VA Regional Offices decide heart-related claims.  Those errors typically result in too low of a rating.

Female doctor listening to heart beat of elderly man WHAT SYMPTOMS ENTITLE ME TO A VA DISABILITY RATING FOR HEART DISEASE?

To understand the errors, you first need to know the proper criteria the VA is supposed to use in evaluating the correct disability rating.  There a few different ways to qualify for the various ratings, but one way common to each level is the symptom-based method.

To use this method, it is important to know the relevant symptoms.  This helps you see where you likely fall on the scale of disability.  A veteran is entitled to a rating between 10 and 100 percent if he or she experiences dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope when engaging in certain levels of activity.

While fatigue and dizziness are easily understandable terms, many veterans are not familiar with these other, more specialized medical terms.  Dyspnea is difficult or labored breathing, or shortness of breath.  Angina is chest pain.  Syncope is partial or complete loss of consciousness or, more simply put, fainting or passing out.


No.  Disabilities related to heart disease can be rated at 0, 10, 30, 60, and 100 percent.  If you have any of the symptoms discussed above (dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope), your level of disability is tied to what sort of activities bring on your symptoms.

The schedular ratings for heart disease define various activity levels that cause cardiac symptoms.  The more active you are before you have symptoms, the lower the rating; the less activity that can cause symptoms, the higher the rating.  The level of rating is measured by “METs,” or metabolic equivalents.  In plain English, that is a measurement of how hard the heart must work to do certain activities; the higher the MET, the more vigorous the activity.  Here is a chart to help understand how the levels of activity correspond to the ratings levels:



Physical activity MET (metabolic equivalent) Dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope while doing these activities?
Light intensity activities < 3  
sleeping 0.9 If yes, then 100% rating
watching television 1.0 If yes, then 100% rating
writing, desk work, typing 1.8 If yes, then 100% rating
walking, 1.7 mph (2.7 km/h), level ground, strolling, very slow 2.3 If yes, then 100% rating
walking, 2.5 mph (4 km/h) 2.9 If yes, then 100% rating
Moderate intensity activities 3 to 6  
bicycling, stationary, 50 watts, very light effort 3.0 If yes, then 100% rating
walking 3.0 mph (4.8 km/h) 3.3 If yes, then 60% rating
calisthenics, home exercise, light or moderate effort, general 3.5 If yes, then 60% rating
walking 3.4 mph (5.5 km/h) 3.6 If yes, then 60% rating
bicycling, <10 mph (16 km/h), leisure, to work or for pleasure 4.0 If yes, then 60% rating
bicycling, stationary, 100 watts, light effort 5.5 If yes, then 30% rating
sexual activity 5.8 If yes, then 30% rating
Vigorous intensity activities > 6  
jogging, general 7.0 If yes, then 30% rating
calisthenics (e.g. pushups, situps, pullups, jumping jacks), heavy, vigorous effort 8.0 If yes, then 10% rating
running jogging, in place 8.0 If yes, then 10% rating
rope jumping 10.0 If yes, then 10% rating


Remember, symptom-based criteria are just one of the ways a veteran may be entitled to a VA disability rating for a heart condition.  There are other methods that can be used to establish a rating.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

I saw Travis on some YouTube videos. It was the way he worded things, I just felt compelled to contact them about my situation, he seemed trustworthy. Travis told me he thought he could help me. I was hesitant, but proceeded. The claim process was long, but my claim was granted. They are organized and punctual. Jessica and Travis are a strong team. I feel the Lord led me to Perkins & Studdard. I consider Travis an advocate and friend. ThanksCorby Reese
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Thank you Jason and Tina for everything you've done. Much appreciated. Great law firm! Great results!! Thank you!!! (Austin and Valerie)Valerie Mellinger
Travis and the team working on my VA claim are awesome. I’m happy with their integrity and diligence on working on my claim.Chris “Greybeard” Mullennix
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I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
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