Gout is a form of arthritis that causes severe pain and swelling and is caused by too much uric acid that crystallizes and is deposited in joints. If uric acid crystals are not treated and remain in the body for an extended period, they can lead to severe health issues. These crystals accumulate in the joints, triggering a gout attack. 

Veterans are more susceptible to gout due to the physically demanding nature of military service, which can cause joint stress and injuries. Additionally, factors such as high-stress environments, dietary changes, and inconsistent access to healthcare during service can contribute to the development and worsening of gout.  

Person who has gout in their knee

Common Symptoms of Gout 

  • Joint tenderness: The affected joint may feel very tender
  • Redness: The skin over the joint may appear red and shiny, though this may be harder to see on darker skin tones
  • Warmth: The joint may feel warm
  • Limited range of motion: As gout progresses, it may become difficult to move the affected joint normally

Eligibility Criteria for VA Disability for Gout

The general VA disability eligibility requirements are: Veterans must have served in active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, have a discharge other than dishonorable, and have a current diagnosed disability. The disability must be linked to an injury, illness, or event that occurred during military service. The most important aspect of claiming gout for VA disability is proving the service connection between gout and your military service. Veterans can establish service connection for gout by proving either a primary or secondary connection: 

Primary Service Connection

Veterans must have a current diagnosis of gout, and have experienced an in-service event, injury, or illness that caused the disability. They must also provide medical evidence connecting their current diagnosis to the in-service event.

Secondary Service Connection

Veterans must show that their gout was caused or worsened by an already service-connected condition. For example, if a veteran had gout before joining the service, they can still file for benefits if they can show that their condition worsened while serving. Detailed medical evidence of all conditions from a healthcare provider and how they were obtained or worsened is essential to prove this service connection.

READ MORE: How Do I Know If My Injury is Service-Connected?

Tips for Obtaining and Organizing Medical Evidence

Proper and detailed medical evidence is essential for proving gout for VA disability. Here are some ways you can strengthen your case with medical evidence: 

  • Consistent Medical Visits: Schedule regular appointments with healthcare providers to ensure continuous documentation of gout symptoms and treatments.
  • Request Copies of Records: Obtain and keep copies of all medical records, including diagnosis, treatment notes, lab results, and imaging.
  • Organize Records Chronologically: Arrange medical records in chronological order to show the progression and history of the condition clearly.
  • Highlight Key Documents: Highlight or flag critical documents that specifically address the diagnosis, treatment, and service connection of gout.
  • Include Personal Statements: Write personal statements describing the impact of gout on daily life and work, and submit them as part evidence.
  • Buddy Statements: Collect statements from fellow service members or family members who can speak of the onset and impact of gout symptoms.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Proving gout for VA disability can be a long and stressful process. This guide provides a foundational understanding of this concept. If you have questions about your VA disability claim, don’t hesitate to contact Veterans Law Attorneys for a FREE legal consultation. Our legal expertise can assist you in navigating the VA claims process and ensure you receive the compensation you’ve earned through your years of service.

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