VA Proposes Changes to Disability Ratings for Skin Conditions

On Friday, August 12, the Federal Register published proposed rule changes for the Department of Veterans Affairs that would amend the portion of the VA disability rating system that governs skin conditions. These changes are being proposed to “incorporate medical advances…, update current medical terminology, and provide clear evaluation criteria.” If you are a veteran suffering from a disabling skin condition, the proposed changes may be welcome news, or you might feel they don’t go far enough. The public comment period lasts until October 11.

The highlights of the proposed rule changes include:

  • Overruling the controversial holding of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Johnson v. McDonald, 27 Vet. App. 497 (2016), that a topical corticosteroid is systemic therapy for dermatitis or eczema (DC 7806). The new rule clarifies that a systemic therapy is administered through any route (orally, injection, suppository, intranasally) other than the skin, but a topical treatment could be systemic if performed on a large enough scale.
  • The VA recognizing new therapies for skin conditions, including ultraviolet radiation (phototherapy), PUVA (photochemotherapy), retinoids, and biologics.
  • Revising the current system list of 30 diagnostic codes. The proposed changes would add, remove and revise the list to better reflect current medical science and terminology.
  • Consolidating several similar disorders to be rated under the same formula, rather than prescribing individual rating criteria to each. These conditions are dermatitis or eczema, discoid lupus erythematosus, dermatophytosis, bullous disorders, psoriasis, infections of the skin not listed elsewhere, cutaneous manifestations of collagen-vascular diseases not listed elsewhere, papulosquamous disorders not listed elsewhere, and diseases of keratinization.

There are also proposed substantive changes that affect numerous conditions. If you are currently receiving benefits for a disabling skin condition or are trying to access veterans’ benefits, these changes could impact your eligibility or your disability rating.

If you or a veteran you love is having trouble accessing VA benefits, our accredited attorneys are ready to help. Call Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban  today at 866-866-VETS or contact us online.

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