What Is the Correct VA Disability Rating for My Parkinson’s Disease?

As we mentioned in our blog on Parkinson’s disease from Agent Orange exposure, accurately rating Parkinson’s disease in a veterans disability claim is more complicated than some other disabilities. That makes it difficult for you to know if you are receiving the correct amount of benefits.

Because of the complexity, there is a good chance VA did not assign the proper disability rating percentage.  This makes it even more important that you understand what goes into a proper disability rating.  Then, you can read your Ratings Decision again to see if VA followed the proper methodology for rating Parkinson’s disease.

A couple reviewing paperwork 3 Basic Steps to a VA Disability Rating for Parkinson’s Disease

Rating Parkinson’s disease for VA purposes can be broken down in a few basic steps:

  1. Begin with the diagnostic code for Parkinson’s disease to find the “minimum rating”
  2. Evaluate each of the symptoms you have associated with Parkinson’s disease
  3. Calculate the combined disability rating for those symptoms
  4. Use the higher of the “minimum rating” for the disease itself or the combined rating of the symptoms

What Is the VA Diagnostic Code for Parkinson’s Disease?

As with all diseases and disabilities entitling veterans to VA disability compensation benefits, VA uses disability ratings schedules within the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”).  Generally, each condition has a separate diagnostic code.  The diagnostic code is a four-digit number and name.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as looking for “Parkinson’s” within the CFR. Instead, Parkinson’s disease is rated using code 8004 – Paralysis agitans – which is another name for Parkinson’s disease.  This diagnostic code assigns a 30% rating.

VA may stop there and only give you a 30% rating without further consideration.  If they do, they have probably made an error.  The 30% rating is only the first step, not the last, to a proper VA disability rating for Parkinson’s disease.

Likewise, if VA assigns a disability rating less than 30%, that is a huge red flag that they have gotten it wrong.  You will notice that the disability table refers to that as a “minimum rating.”  So, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s means an automatic minimum 30% rating. Unless you have minimal problems due to your Parkinson’s you probably qualify for a rating higher than the 30% minimum.

How Do I Get More Than a 30% Rating for My Parkinson’s Disease?

The next step is to look at the symptoms you have related to your Parkinson’s disease.  But, if you look at the diagnostic codes immediately before and after “8004 Paralysis agitans,” you will not see anything else pertaining to this disease. So, what are the other symptoms VA should consider?

The Parkinson’s Disability Benefits Questionnaire (“DBQ”), also known as VA Form 21-0960C-1 , provides a good roadmap to a higher rating.  This is the criteria a physician should use in your C&P examination to evaluate fully your particular stage of the disease.  The symptoms include four main motor symptoms:

  1. Bradykinesia (slowed movement)
  2. Postural instability
  3. Rigidity
  4. Tremors.

For upper extremity issues, see diagnostic codes 8514 & 8515.  For lower extremity issues, see diagnostic code 8520.

Other symptoms associated with various stages of Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or speech problems (dysarthria) – use diagnostic code 7203 or 8210, respectively.
  • Facial muscle paralysis – use diagnostic code 8207.
  • Cognitive disorders causing occupational or social impairment – use diagnostic code 9310 or 9326.
  • Bladder incontinence (neurogenic bladder)- diagnostic code 7542.
  • Bowel problems – use diagnostic code 7332.

So Is My VA Rating for Parkinson’s Disease Equal to All the Ratings Added Together?

Unfortunately, no.  Under VA rules, 4 plus 2 does not equal 6.  Instead, it is more like 40% + 20% equals 50%.  This is because VA uses combined disability ratings.

If you have advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease with several of the symptoms listed above, you quite likely should qualify for a 100% disability rating.

If VA does not award you 100% but rates one disability at 60% or more, or one at 40% with a total of 70% or more, you might qualify for 100% due to Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

Another thing the VA may not tell you – you may be eligible for Special Monthly Compensation, which means a payment greater than that for a 100% rating. Most veterans with Parkinson’s will probably qualify for SMC at some point.

What Should I Do if I Think I Should Be Receiving More in VA Compensation?

Parkinson’s is a terrible disease with many different possible symptoms.  Each symptom needs to be rated individually and the combined rating then needs to be compared to the 30% minimum rating. If you already have a rating but your Parkinson’s disease has progressed, you probably need to file for an increased rating if your current rating is less than 100%.

I would be happy to talk to you if you have questions or need your claim reviewed.  The best way to do that without any obligation or cost on your part is a free veterans disability consultation.

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.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
Jason and his paralegal Lisa were on point and on top of their game when it came to handling my worker's comp. injury case. I tried going it alone and the insurance carrier pushed me around. They denied extra physical therapy. They denied injections the doctor recommended to ease my pain. When I turned my case over to Jason things turned around, QUICK. They were at all times attentive and on top of my case. I cannot recommend Jason and his staff enough. If you are hurt at work, this is the firm you want on YOUR side.
Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
Jason Perkins, was my lawyer in a workers comp. case, my case has settled now, and I am very happy for all Jason and his office hard work on my case, he was always there to help me out with any questions that I had or help I needed. Jason is a excellent lawyer and if I ever need another one I would only go to Perkins,Because I believe they would be able to help me in any situation I am in need of..
Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
I recommend Perkins Law Firm. Everyone I came in contact with there was very nice. Kim was very helpful and any time I had a question she made sure I got an answer. Ann Margaret really took the time to explain things to me.

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