Proving Service Connection For Reactive Airway Disease (RAD)

Proving Service Connection For Reactive Airway Disease (RAD)

Posted On: Oct 18, 2023

If you experienced exposure to substances like smoke, fumes, gases, or sandstorms during your military service and now face breathing difficulties, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. Even if you don't meet the criteria for an asthma diagnosis but experience breathing issues, you can still apply for VA benefits under a broader respiratory condition known as Reactive Airway Disease (RAD). The VA rating for Reactive Airway Disease can range up to 100%, based on the severity of your respiratory challenges.

Reactive Airway Disease

Reactive Airway Disease (RAD) is a broad, non-medical term used by experts to describe a range of respiratory ailments. It encompasses a condition where the bronchial tubes in the lungs overreact to various irritants. These irritants include smoke, fumes, gases, pet dander, mold, or mildew.

Medical professionals utilize the term RAD to characterize breathing issues connected with:

  • Increased mucus production
  • Asthma
  • Inflammation
  • Viral upper respiratory infections
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Restricted or labored breathing
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

RAD is identified by symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and a persistent cough. The severity of its symptoms may range from mild to life-threatening, contingent upon the circumstances. Treatment may encompass oxygen therapy, breathing treatments, inhalers, or other tailored approaches, depending on the specific nature of the condition. It's essential to differentiate RAD from Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS).

Although they share similar symptoms, their causes and nature differ. RADS usually occurs as a one-time incident resulting from exposure to corrosive gas or vapors and is not a chronic condition like RAD.

Risk Factors Of Reactive Airway Disease 

Various factors can heighten your susceptibility to reactive airway disease, including:

  • Exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Allergic reactions
  • Contact with toxins, smoke, and other harmful chemicals
  • Specific occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, cleaners, emergency service personnel, welders, and farmers
  • Family history of reactive airway disease

Service Connection For Reactive Airway Disease

Reactive Airway Diseases (RADs) encompass chronic bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory conditions, including those presumptively linked to burn pit exposure. Veterans exposed to particulate matter during sandstorms or the 2003 sulfur mine fire in Iraq may also be eligible to establish a service connection for this condition.

To initiate a claim for disability benefits related to RAD, you must file with the VA. Subsequently, the VA typically arranges a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination. During this examination, a physician will assess your lung function, inquire about your symptoms, and discuss your military service. Attendance at the scheduled C&P exam is crucial, as non-attendance may result in the denial of your claim.

Following the processing of your claim by the VA, you will either be granted benefits or receive a denial. If your benefits are denied, you have the option to appeal. Successful appeal results in the receipt of monthly compensation, including retroactive compensation from the date of your initial VA disability claim.

C&P Exams For RAD

To secure service-connected benefits for your RAD, validating your diagnosis through medical evidence from your doctor or other reputable sources is imperative. Additionally, the VA might mandate a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination by an approved VA doctor. This examination aims to comprehensively assess your condition and its impact on your daily life.

During the C&P exam, the examining physician will review your symptoms' progression and medical records. Further, they may order specific tests to aid in diagnosing your condition accurately.


Suppose your reactive airway disease directly results from or is exacerbated by your military service, hindering your ability to maintain employment. In that case, you may be eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). This status grants essential financial support to individuals unable to sustain employment due to disability.

To meet the eligibility criteria for TDIU, you must hold a VA rating of a minimum of 60%. Additionally, your inability to engage in substantial gainful employment due to the limitations posed by your disability is a crucial factor in determining qualification for this assistance.