The interconnection between psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is a well-recognized association. While psoriasis typically manifests as visible marks on the skin, psoriatic arthritis may go unnoticed by many individuals, making it imperative to bring attention to this often-overlooked condition. Veterans, in particular, may find themselves contending with one or both of these health challenges as a consequence of their military service.
How To Service Connect Your Psoriatic Arthritis?
The pivotal aspect of initiating a claim for service connection related to psoriatic arthritis involves establishing a clear link between the diagnosis and the veteran's military service.
Several avenues exist to accomplish this:
Primary Service Connection
This mode of service connection is attainable when there is compelling evidence indicating that the veteran's military service directly contributed to the development of psoriatic arthritis.
Secondary Service Connection
Achieving this type of service connection becomes possible if the veteran's psoriatic arthritis emerges as a consequence of another service-connected condition. This avenue also applies if a veteran's service-connected psoriasis serves as the catalyst for the development of psoriatic arthritis.
TDIU And Psoriatic Arthritis
Should your arthritis, deemed service-connected, result in an inability to secure and sustain substantially gainful employment, you may be eligible for TDIU (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability) benefits. Successful approval of TDIU ensures compensation at the 100 percent maximum rate. The application for TDIU can be pursued independently or raised during an appeal for an augmented rating.
TDIU manifests in two distinct forms, each delineated as follows:
38 CFR § 4.16a ("Schedular")
Under this category of TDIU, a veteran must meet either of the following criteria:
- Have a condition rated at a minimum of 60 percent, or
- Possess two conditions that, when combined, reach a 70 percent rating, with one condition at a minimum of 40 percent.
38 CFR § 4.16b ("Extraschedular")
This variant of TDIU caters to veterans who may fall short of the ratings required for schedular TDIU but still confront an inability to secure substantially gainful employment due to their conditions.
In such cases, the veteran must substantiate that their condition uniquely impedes their capacity to attain substantially gainful employment, justifying a departure from the standard disability rating criteria.
Compensation And Pension (C&P) Exam For Psoriatic Arthritis
Following the submission of a claim, the Veterans Affairs (VA) may initiate a Compensation and Pension examination, commonly known as a C&P exam. Typically conducted by a VA or VA-contracted physician, this examination involves a comprehensive assessment, encompassing both a physical examination of the veteran and inquiries related to their military service, psoriatic arthritis, or associated symptoms. In cases where the veteran contends with both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, the examiner may assess both conditions.
The scheduling of a C&P exam is usually communicated to the veteran via a phone call or a letter from the VA. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to ensure that the VA possesses the most current contact information for the veteran. Failure to update this information may result in the veteran missing a C&P request, potentially leading to the denial of their claim if they fail to attend or reschedule the examination.
The appointed examiner should thoroughly review the veteran's C-file before the examination. This file typically contains all documentation previously submitted to the VA, along with the veteran's medical and military service records.
To strengthen their claim, veterans can utilize a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). This VA-created form empowers veterans to address crucial aspects of their condition, including symptoms, severity, potential causes, and any connections to other disabilities. Additionally, veterans have the option to have their private physician complete a DBQ on their behalf.