VA Wants Expanded Infertility Treatment for Veterans
As part of its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, the VA wants expanded infertility treatment and payment options related to sexual health. Specifically fertility treatments. It has asked for an additional $10.5 million as part of its proposal, an increase from prior years.
The proposal would require legislation allowing the VA to expand covered fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) to injured veterans who are single or in a same-sex relationship. Currently, such treatments are only covered for heterosexual married couples who can provide their own sperm and egg or require surrogates for child-bearing. The VA will continue to cover treatments only for injured veterans whose injuries resulted from service.
The proposal also requests additional changes to benefits legislation: allowing the VA to stop charging copays for birth control; the ability to reimburse adoption expenses for eligible veterans; the ability to provide covered mental and physical health care related to military sexual trauma for National Guard or Reserve veterans who have not served on active duty and therefore do not currently qualify for such care.
Expanded Infertility Treatment Support and Opposition
Longtime veterans advocate Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said the move is necessary to end what she called “unnecessarily restrictive” requirements under current law. “It’s very hard to help our Veterans plan for the families that they deserve. They served our country. They were injured, which made limited opportunities for them to have children — a dream people ought to have, including our Veterans,” she said in 2021.
A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA).
Conservatives traditionally oppose expanded in vitro fertilization VA benefits, since IVF creates multiple embryos, some of which are often destroyed if not used in conception. Less controversial budget changes include the elimination of birth control copays and expanded healthcare for National Guardsman and others who never served on active duty who were victims of military sexual trauma. However, no Republic has supported Senator Murray’s or Representative Larsen’s proposed measures.
The proposed VA budget is over $300 billion. That’s the largest budget in the federal government, other than the Defense Department’s budget.
More About VA Infertility Disability Benefits
The current framework for infertility disability benefits applies to veterans with certain service-connected conditions which result in infertility. They may be eligible for IVF or other assisted reproductive technology (ART) or additional services. The veteran must currently meet four requirements:
- The veteran must have a service-connected condition that causes infertility.
- Also, the veteran must be legally married to a spouse of a different sex.
- The male spouse must be able to produce sperm.
- The female spouse must have an intact uterus and be able to produce eggs.
Other ART (assisted reproductive technology) may be available as well. However, the VA does not cover donor embryos, donor eggs, surrogacy, or donor sperm. Further, it provides IVF services to veterans without infertility-causing service-connected conditions, but at a cost to the veteran. The proposed 2023 budget would eliminate or modify these restrictions as well.
Roughly 15% of heterosexual couples are infertile, a medical term that means they have been unable to conceive a child after one year of frequent and unprotected sexual intercourse.
A number of medical and environmental issues could cause infertility. So, establishing a service-related connection is the priority for a VA disability attorney. Usually, the service-related connection is indirect. Various service-related conditions can cause infertility.
One example of an indirect connection to service is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. According to one study, individuals with PTSD took longer to conceive than other individuals. Trouble conceiving could constitute infertility, as outlined above. More likely, however, service-related PTSD combines with a non-service-related condition to make a Veteran infertile. In these cases, an attorney must prove that the Veteran could have conceived a child but for the PTSD, or but for a service-connected condition.
Depression could also cause infertility. The hormonal imbalance that causes depression could also trigger infertility. The two conditions often go hand in hand. Trouble conceiving worsens the depression, so a downward spiral keeps the Veteran locked in.
Also, there are other potential causes as well. For example, service-related cancer could affect reproductive organs, especially if the veteran undergoes chemotherapy or other aggressive treatments. Exposure to toxic substances can affect fertility as well.
Rely on Dedicated Attorneys
An attorney is a valuable partner in all phases of a disability claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent Veterans nationwide.
This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. Therefore, it does not create an attorney-client relationship.