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Fibromyalgia and Veterans Disability

Fibromyalgia and Veterans Disability

Fibromyalgia is a condition that poses unique challenges for diagnosis and treatment. In the context of veterans seeking disability benefits, understanding how fibromyalgia and veterans disability are connected is crucial. Leah will explore the nature of fibromyalgia, its diagnosis, and medical elements related to service connection for veterans seeking disability benefits.

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that falls under the umbrella of rheumatologic disorders, although often it can be diagnosed and treated in a primary care setting. Unlike many other medical conditions, fibromyalgia lacks definitive laboratory or imaging studies for diagnosis. Instead, healthcare providers rely on a constellation of symptoms, ruling out other illnesses to arrive at a diagnosis. The American College of Rheumatology provides a set of criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia.

Fast Facts About Fibromyalgia

Before delving into the specifics of VA disability, let’s outline some fast facts about fibromyalgia:

  1. Affects 2 to 4 percent of people, with a higher prevalence in women.
  2. Not an autoimmune or inflammation-based illness.
  3. Involves the nervous system, according to research.
  4. Diagnosed based on relevant symptoms and tender points.
  5. No cure, but medications can help reduce symptoms.
  6. Characterized by widespread pain, tenderness, sensitivity to touch, fatigue, sleep problems, memory loss, and other associated symptoms.

Service Connection for Fibromyalgia

Veterans seeking disability benefits for fibromyalgia can establish service connection in various ways. If diagnosed in service, the condition may be service-connected on a direct basis in some veterans. Additionally, it may be secondary to a service-connected condition, such as a mental health disorder, which is a common scenario. Furthermore, fibromyalgia can be presumptive to Gulf War exposure in some veterans, making those suffering from it eligible for disability benefits if diagnosed within a specified timeframe related to the exposure.

The Rating Process

The rating process for fibromyalgia is outlined in the 38 Code of Federal Regulations under diagnostic code 5025. The rating ranges from 10 to 40 percent, depending on the severity of symptoms. The symptoms considered in the rating process include widespread pain, tenderness, sensitivity to touch, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and other associated symptoms. Veterans can refer to this diagnostic code for a detailed understanding of the criteria used for rating fibromyalgia.

Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam

When pursuing disability for fibromyalgia, veterans may undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. During this exam, the examiner has the ability to provide a diagnosis if the veteran hasn’t received one previously and the veteran meets the clinical criteria. However, the outcome may be provider-dependent, and the examiner’s familiarity and comfort level with the condition can influence the result. Veterans should be prepared to discuss their medical history, symptoms, and any potential connection to their military service during the C&P exam.

Obtaining Medical Evidence

To support a claim for fibromyalgia, veterans can use the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ), available on the VA’s official website. The DBQ covers various aspects of the condition, including the date of diagnosis, continuous medication requirements, responsiveness to therapy, and the impact on daily life and work. Veterans often request that their treating provider assist with completing this form in support of their claim.

Conclusion

Fibromyalgia presents a unique set of challenges for veterans seeking disability benefits. Understanding the nature of the condition, its diagnosis, service connection options, and the rating process is crucial infomation to consider. Veterans should be proactive in obtaining medical evidence, such as the DBQ, and effectively communicate their symptoms during the C&P exam. While fibromyalgia may be a tricky disorder, veterans have avenues to pursue disability benefits and support for their condition.

Also read: Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain in Veterans Disability

At Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting, a veteran-owned company, we specialize in Independent Medical Opinions (IMOs) known as Nexus letters.

Our purpose is to empower YOU, the veteran, to take charge of your medical evidence and provide you with valuable educational tools and research to guide you on your journey.

Understanding the unique challenges veterans face, our commitment lies in delivering exceptional service and support.

Leveraging an extensive network of licensed independent medical professionals, all well-versed in the medical professional aspects of the VA claims process, we review the necessary medical evidence to incorporate in our reports related to your VA Disability Claim.

Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting is not a law firm, accredited claims agent, or affiliated with the Veterans Administration or Veterans Services Organizations. However, we are happy to discuss your case with your accredited VA legal professional.

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Danielle McClaskey

Client Relations Specialist U.S. Navy Veteran

In her active-duty service in the United States Navy, Danielle undertook a variety of responsibilities, ranging from essential administrative duties to providing crucial medical care. Her multifaceted contributions played a pivotal role in enhancing her fellow service members’ operational effectiveness and well-being.

As a disabled veteran, she developed a profound understanding of the unique challenges faced by her fellow service members. Now, in her civilian role, Danielle is a valued member of the Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting team, where she continues to leverage her extensive background and educational achievements to provide exceptional support to veterans.

Leticia

LETICIA

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Leticia has been in the medical field for nearly 14 years. She has always had a passion for medicine and caring for her community. Leticia has spent the last 4 years caring for veterans and first responders with alcohol and substance abuse in a medical rehabilitation setting whilst continuing her education working towards a degree in software development.

Someday she hopes to develop medical software that further enhances the patient’s experience in medical care. Leticia has a deep respect and love for those who have served as she comes from a family of law enforcement and military veterans.

Alan Bucholz

ALAN BUCHOLZ, PA-C:

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Alan enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Influenced by his time as a combat medic, he attended the Interservice Physician Assistant program while on
active duty, was commissioned as an officer, and subsequently deployed to Afghanistan.  

Alan’s military and medical background inspired him to form Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting with his
wife, Leah Bucholz, a Physician Assistant and Army Combat Veteran.  He has devoted himself to using his
knowledge gained in the military as a medical professional to serve the Veteran community.

Alan Bucholz

ALAN BUCHOLZ, PA-C:

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Alan enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Influenced by his time as a combat medic, he attended the Interservice Physician Assistant program while on
active duty, was commissioned as an officer, and subsequently deployed to Afghanistan.  

Alan’s military and medical background inspired him to form Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting with his
wife, Leah Bucholz, a Physician Assistant and Army Combat Veteran.  He has devoted himself to using his
knowledge gained in the military as a medical professional to serve the Veteran community.

Julie Pereira

JULIE PEREIRA:

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

During her Active-Duty time in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, Julie provided medical administration
and patient care services in the field, the hospital, and base medical office settings.  This military medical and
administrative background has given Julie the hands-on experience and extensive knowledge necessary to
provide unparalleled service to her fellow Veterans through the Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting team.

Julie’s educational achievements include a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in Human Services and a pre-nursing associate in arts and science.

Julie has been inspired by her firsthand knowledge of navigating the VA Benefits process. She has dedicated
most of her adult life to serving Veterans through her knowledge derived from her military and civilian medical
education and training.

Jennifer Januta

JENNIFER JANUTA

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER

During her Active-Duty service in the Army, Jennifer supported various research efforts centered on combat casualty care and Soldier performance. Her military background gave her unique insights into veterans’ distinct challenges, ultimately inspiring her to join the Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting team.

Jennifer’s educational achievements include a master’s in molecular biology from George Washington University and a master’s in data science from Texas Tech University. Jennifer wholeheartedly dedicates herself to utilizing her knowledge and expertise gained from 15 years of healthcare experience to impact the well-being of those who have served positively.

Alan Bucholz

ALAN BUCHOLZ, PA-C:

U.S ARMY VETERAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Alan enlisted in the US Army as a combat medic, where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Influenced by his time as a combat medic, he attended the Interservice Physician Assistant program while on
active duty, was commissioned as an officer, and subsequently deployed to Afghanistan.  

Alan’s military and medical background inspired him to form Prestige Veteran Medical Consulting with his
wife, Leah Bucholz, a Physician Assistant and Army Combat Veteran.  He has devoted himself to using his
knowledge gained in the military as a medical professional to serve the Veteran community.

Leah - Meet the Team

LEAH BUCHOLZ, PA-C

U.S ARMY VETERAN, MEDICAL EXPERT & FORMER C & P EXAMINER

Meet Leah, the founder, and leader of our organization. ​​A combat veteran herself, she understands the unique challenges veterans face, making her mission about much more than running a successful business. It’s about the opportunity to provide a legacy of exceptional service for our heroes.​

​“It is essential to remember that there is no greater honor than caring for service members on the battlefield. Continuing to care for Veterans after separation is an opportunity that I have been afforded to extend that care in this new battlefield related to service-incurred disabilities.”

Her inspiration comes from years of military experience working alongside her fellow servicemembers, particularly key leaders who have influenced her journey, applying their wisdom to her path. She values her team deeply, most of whom are also disabled combat veterans, each member a trusted individual sharing her vision.

 “Driven by passion and purpose, I aim to create a sustainable change that empowers veterans and future generations.”

Leah’s journey hasn’t been without challenges. From overcoming and living with her service-related disabilities to navigating work-life balance, she’s learned to face each hurdle head-on with resilience.  Like many of her veteran brothers and sisters, her early background consisted of limited resources and opportunities. Her military service has helped shape her into a steadfast leader, offering relatable inspiration to others.

Join us in celebrating Leah, a compassionate leader, and resilient veteran, driving our mission to serve those who served our nation.