Disabled And Unable To Get Your Benefits?

We Can Help. 765-668-7531

Is GERD Covered by VA Benefits

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. This backflow can cause heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, and other uncomfortable symptoms. This condition can be painful and uncomfortable and have a significant impact on the sufferer’s quality of life. More so, it can also lead to serious health problems, such as esophageal cancer.

The good news is that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes GERD as a service-connected disability under certain conditions. This means veterans experiencing GERD due to their military service may be eligible for financial compensation and other valuable benefits to help manage their condition.

Understanding GERD and Its Connection to Military Service

One of the criteria for qualifying for VA benefits is to tie the medical condition to a veteran’s service. While the exact causes of GERD are not fully understood, several factors can contribute to its development. Potential military service-related factors may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Stress: Military service can be incredibly stressful, both during deployment and in training situations. Chronic stress can disrupt the digestive system and lead to increased stomach acid production and weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle that keeps stomach acid down.
  • Diet: Military diets can sometimes be high in processed foods, caffeine, and spicy foods – all known GERD triggers. The irregular meal schedules and rushed eating habits common in military life can also contribute.
  • Medications: Certain medications commonly used during military service, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain relievers, can irritate the stomach lining and increase the risk of GERD.
  • Physical Injuries: Injuries to the chest or abdomen sustained during service can damage the diaphragm, a muscle that helps maintain pressure in the abdomen and prevent acid reflux.

How to Qualify for VA benefits for GERD conditions?

To qualify for VA benefits, the veteran must:

  • Have a current diagnosis of GERD from a qualified medical professional.
  • They can demonstrate a medical nexus – evidence that their GERD is linked to their military service.

The VA does not have a specific diagnostic code for GERD. However, they may rate the condition based on analogous ratings for other digestive disorders, typically a hiatal hernia.

Does the Severity of the Veteran's GERD Symptoms Matter?

Yes, the severity of the veteran’s GERD symptoms plays a role in determining their disability rating. The VA uses a rating schedule that assigns a percentage based on the severity of the veteran’s condition. Here’s a general breakdown:

  • 10%: Two or more common GERD symptoms are present but not severe enough to warrant a higher rating.
  • 30%: Persistent and recurring GERD with symptoms like epigastric discomfort (upper abdominal pain), difficulty swallowing, heartburn, regurgitation, and chest or shoulder pain.
  • Higher Ratings: In severe cases with complications like esophageal strictures or Barrett’s esophagus, a higher disability rating may be assigned.

Here's what the VA considers when evaluating a GERD claim:

  • Medical documentation: This includes the veteran’s diagnosis, medical history, treatment records, and any evidence of service-related injuries or illnesses that could have contributed to their GERD.
  • Military service records: This helps establish the service history and potential exposure to risk factors like stress, medications, or physical injuries.
  • Statements from the veteran and others: This can be a personal statement describing how the veteran’s GERD symptoms started and how it impacts their daily life. Statements from fellow veterans or superiors who witnessed the veteran’s symptoms during service can also be helpful.


If you are a veteran who has acid reflux or GERD, you may be eligible for VA benefits. The VA considers acid reflux and GERD to be service-connected disabilities if they are caused or aggravated by military service. A veteran must seek medical attention from a VA doctor or other medical professional if they experience chronic heartburn, difficulty swallowing, or other GERD symptoms while serving. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and improve their quality of life. As such, the VA can provide financial assistance through VA benefits to alleviate some of the burdens GERD places on a veteran.

At McKown and Myers, it’s our job to help Hoosiers like you get the compensation they need to get medical treatment and support their families. We’re here to answer your questions about GERD – call 765-668-7531 or complete our contact form here. There’s no obligation – we’re here to help.