Taste and Smell

Topics:

Taste and Smell Overview
The Taste and Smell Ratings
DBQ for Taste and Smell Conditions
Principles that Apply

Reminder: The VA will give a Military Disability Rating for each service-connected condition a service member has, but the DoD will only rate service-connected conditions that make a service member Unfit for Duty.

 


Taste and Smell Overview

A rating can only be given for the loss of the sense of smell or taste if there is a definite, diagnosed physical or mental cause.

Taste and smell are very closely related. Both the tongue and the salivary glands participate in tasting. The salivary glands, however, are stimulated by the sense of smell. Without it, the sense of taste would be diminished.

Most medical conditions that cause the loss of taste and/or smell are temporary and include the common cold and hay fever. Physical conditions that could cause a permanent loss of taste and smell are rare. They include conditions that obstruct the nasal passages like a tumor or polyps, diseases of the lining of the nose, loss of the tongue, and damage to the brain or nerves (strokes, brain diseases, traumatic brain injuries, etc.).

Mental disorders that may result in the loss of taste or smell include depression and schizophrenia, but this is a very rare side effect. Mental conditions usually do not cause a complete loss of the sense, but rather a change in the perception of the sense. So they might think they are smelling something that isn’t there, etc.

Most medical conditions which result in the permanent loss of taste or smell would cause other disabilities as well. These should be rated separately.

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The Taste and Smell Ratings

Code 6275: If the sense of smell is completely lost, it is rated 10%.

Code 6276: If the sense of taste is completely lost, it is rated 10%.

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DBQ for Taste and Smell Conditions

Here is the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) used for taste and smell conditions: Taste and Smell DBQ.

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Principles that Apply

Pyramiding: A single condition can only be rated once! However, if another condition exists that is in addition to the taste or smell condition (not simply caused by it), then it can also be rated.

Probative Value: If two exams record the condition differently, the exam with the most thorough data and performed by the most qualified person in that specialty will be the exam the rating is based on.

A Tie Goes to the Veteran: If there are two equally strong exams with conflicting information, or if the condition can be equally rated under two different codes, then the one that gives the highest rating will be assigned. Every conflict should be resolved in favor of the higher rating.

Hospital or Convalescent Ratings: Some conditions require periods of hospitalization or constant medical care (at-home nurse, etc.). Any condition that requires this is rated 100% during this intensive treatment. Once it ends, then the 100% rating will continue for a certain period. This period is 3 months unless another length (6 months, 1 year, etc.) is directly specified in the condition ratings. Some patients may need more time to recover than others, so the physician or Rating Authorities can lengthen this time period if they see fit.

Please see the VASRD Principles page for further guidance.

 

For conditions of the nerves or brain, see The Central Nervous System page. If the condition is caused by trauma to the brain, see the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) page. For all other conditions of the face and head, see The Skull, The Skin, The Facial Muscles, The Ears, The Eyes, The Mouth and Teeth, and the Scars pages.

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