Ivds Rating Criteria Is Not Fair To Veterans
The rating criteria can often leave veterans with IVDS short-changed because it is based on the amount of bedrest prescribed by a doctor. It can be difficult for veterans to satisfy this rating criteria because modern medical practices no longer call for bed rest to treat IVDS. In fact, physicians have often held that such long durations of bedrest can actually do more harm for disabilities of the spine than they can help. VAs own clinical guidelines advise VA physicians to encourage patients with low back pain to remain active, and that remaining active is more effective than resting in bed for patients with low back pain. The guidelines also state that if a patient requires bed rest, the physician should encourage them to return to their normal activities as soon as possible.
Additionally, the rating criteria does not take other symptoms or daily limitations into account, such as difficulty sitting, standing, lifting, or bending. These examples of functional impairment can limit a veterans daily activities, quality of life, and ability to work.
Service Connection For Herniated Discs
To be eligible for disability benefits for a herniated disc, you must have a current diagnosis of the condition and meet the eligibility criteria for VA disability benefits. You must also provide evidence that shows a service connected disability to your military service. VA disability claims evidence can be direct or circumstantial, and include:
- Official records of a herniated disc during active duty
- Medical evidence from private doctors linking the current diagnosis to an in-service injury, disease, or event that has been at least as likely as not caused the current condition
- Lay evidence that you had the condition while in service.
A positive VA disability rating for a a bulging disc or a herniated disc is based on the extent of your symptoms, how impaired your range of motion is, prevalence of incapacitating episodes, and how all of this impacts your daily life.
The VA will consider factors such as pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and difficulty walking to determine the veterans disability rating.
Disability ratings range from 0% to 100%, with higher ratings indicating more severe symptoms.
Can I Get Disability With Degenerative Disc Disease
If you are no longer able to work because you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease , you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits provided by the Social Security Administration if you have paid sufficient Social Security taxes which has allowed you to accrue sufficient social security credits.
However, there are other conditions you need to meet before you can submit an application for disability benefits. One of these is you need to be able to prove your degenerative disc disease will prevent you from working for at least 12 months. Secondly, your condition needs to be able to meet any of the blue book listings for musculoskeletal diseases.
It states that your degenerative disc disorder needs to have caused a compromised nerve root of the spinal cord or you need to provide proof that the root compression causes spinal pain, restricted spinal movement, a reduction in motor function and muscle weakness including loss of reflexes and touch. Other requirements are the presence of spinal arachnoiditis which causes inflammation of one of the nervous systems membranes which means you need to reposition yourself at least every two hours.
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Understanding Va Back Ratings
Your VA disability rating for back injury or spine injury will depend on which code the condition falls under. Diagnostic codes 5235 through 5243 of 38 CFR § 4.71a, Schedule of Ratings, Musculoskeletal System are dedicated to back and neck pain. Some of which are listed below:
Diagnostic codes 5242 and 5243 are reserved for arthritis and spinal disc conditions.
What Is The Maximum Disability Rating For Degenerative Disc Disease
Despite how much pain the condition causes, the maximum VA disability rating for degenerative disc disease, as mentioned above, is typically 20 percent. However, there are a few ways veterans can increase their DDD VA rating.
For example, DDD can lead to other conditions among veterans, such as:
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety
You can file a disability claim for any secondary symptoms or conditions caused by your service-connected degenerative disc disease. This will effectively increase your VA disability rating.
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Symptoms Of Radiculopathy In Veterans
When a nerve root is compressed, it becomes inflamed.
This results in numerous unpleasant and painful symptoms in veterans that may include:
- Sharp and radiating pain in the back, arms, legs or shoulders that may worsen with certain activities, even something as simple as coughing or sneezing
- Weakness, fatigue, or loss of reflexes in the arms or legs
- Numbness or tingling of the skin, pins and needles, or other abnormal sensations in the arms or legs
Your specific symptoms will depend on where in the spine the nerve root is pinched.
However, its also possible that you dont experience any symptoms, or you go through periodic flare-ups of symptoms.
Va Ratings For Functional Impairment Of The Thoracolumbar Spine
The rating chart for thoracolumbar spinal pain is used for primary and secondary conditions to lower back pain. The measurements used for determining compensation are as follows:
- 0 percent rating: Flexion is greater than or equal to 90 degrees, OR a combined ROM greater than or equal to 240 degrees
- 10 percent rating: Flexion between 60 and 90 degrees, OR a combined ROM between 125 and 240 degrees
- 20 percent rating: Flexion between 30 and 65 degrees, OR a combined ROM less than or equal to 120 degrees, the minimum scoliosis percent for a scoliosis VA rating.
- 30 percent rating: This rating cannot be applied to the thoracolumbar spine
- 40 percent rating: Flexion less than or equal to 30 degrees, or the entire thoracolumbar spine is stuck in a favorable position
- 50 percent rating: The entire thoracolumbar spine is stuck in an unfavorable position, also called unfavorable ankylosis of the entire thoracolumbar spine.
- 100 percent rating: The entire spine will not move and is stuck in an unfavorable position
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How Do I Apply To Receive My Ratings
If you are still in the military, then you can request your military physician to refer you to the MEB and start the IDES process. If you are already a veteran, you can submit a VA Disability Claim along with evidence of service-connection and all medical records regarding the conditions on the claim.
Contact A Va Disability Lawyer Today
A VA Disability Lawyers role is to assist you throughout the confusing and often frustrating appeals process if you have been denied benefits for your service-connected back pain. Generally, you need to be denied at least once before an attorney can assist, but once a lawyer is involved they will often be able to quickly determine what needs to be done in order to prove entitlement.
If your VA disability claim for back pain has been denied, be sure to contact the VA Accredited Attorneys at VetLaw right away to help make sure you get the entitlement you deserve.
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Va Compensation And Pension Exams For Back Pain
To help the VA determine VA disability ratings for back pain, a compensation and pension exam is usually required. This is where a VA-approved medical professional will perform a comprehensive physical and verbal examination then write their opinion on your condition. The practitioner will assess how far you can bend and flex your joints during the range of motion C& P exam.
While the ROM test is the primary factor in determining VA ratings for back and spine conditions, there are also other portions included in the C& P exams. For example, the VA compensation exam for lower back pain might include a disability benefits questionnaire . Back thoracolumbar spine conditions can have a significant effect on an individuals life, a DBQ allows the veteran to go into detail about how the condition has impacted their life.
Attending a C& P exam with a medical professional can also potentially help you discover the presence of secondary conditions you were unaware of.
Are You Eligible For Degenerative Disc Disease Disability Benefits
Have you been in the military and now suffer a severe spine or back-related injury? Have you been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease?
The process to receive approval for these benefits is often tedious and frustrating. If so, you may need help acquiring the benefits you need.
If this is the case, contact us. Our legal team can provide you with quality and experienced representation that is going to help you receive the benefits you deserve. We are proud to help you who have served to get the disability benefits you deserve.
I have radiculopathy for spinal fusion, can I get benefits for degenerative disc disease too?
It all depends on how far along your DDD is and if the spinal fusion was done as surgery to fix it. Review your medical records with a doctor familiar with VA law to get the best rating.
I have a 20% rating for arthritis in my back, but can I get more for degenerative disc disease?
You may because back disorders are tricky. Your arthritis rating may turn into a spinal fusion claim or a secondary service-connected radiculopathy rating. They all go together, so make sure you work with an experienced lawyer to get ratings for all of them.
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Va Secondary Spinal Conditions
The spine can affect every other part of your body. Certain spinal conditions can lead to other conditions that can be claimed for an additional rating. Some injuries to the spine might cause weakness in areas such as the arms, shoulders, or hips. Other spinal conditions cause people to change how they walk, which can lead to leg and knee issues. A common secondary condition to spinal conditions is also nerve damage or issues.
Radiculopathy is a nerve condition caused by compressed nerves in the spine, resulting in weakness, numbness, or pain along the nerve. The VA rating for radiculopathy in the lower back will be based on symptoms felt in their lower limbs, such as feet, calves, or thighs. The VA rating for cervical radiculopathy is determined based on symptoms in the shoulder, arm, and hand.
If a veteran can prove that their service-connected spinal condition was the primary cause of the secondary condition, they may qualify as having a secondary service-connection condition. This allows the veteran to get a separate rating from the spinal condition that could potentially increase monthly compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Va Ratings For Back Pain
What are VA ratings for back pain?
The VA ratings for back pain reflect the seriousness of a veterans mobility loss and how much their spine is affected. The ratings also factor in whether a veteran feels pain, stiffness, or aching in their spine. To receive a 30% rating or above, a veteran must prove ankylosis, which is joint stiffness caused by an injury or a disease. Fixed movement of the entire spine qualifies for a 100% rating.
How can a veteran get a 100% VA rating for back pain?
A veteran receives a 100% rating if their entire spine is immovable because of a back injury. However, more commonly, veterans are able to achieve a 100% rating through a combination of back and neck injury ratings and other conditions.
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Va Disability Ratings For Neck Pain Explained
Orthopedic conditions are typically categorized as those that impact the musculoskeletal system. Common orthopedic conditions impacting veterans include neck pain and low back pain.
In the VA rating system, orthopedic conditions affecting the spine are separated into neck conditions and back conditions. Neck conditions typically affect the cervical spine, which consists of seven bones that are separated by intervertebral discs. Back conditions typically correspond to the thoracolumbar spine, which is composed of several different types of vertebrae. Though back and neck conditions both stem from the spine in most instances, VA rates them as separate disabilities.
Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs naturally and affects the discs in your spine. Usually, its experienced in the back or neck. It may cause back and neck pain and sometimes impact nerve function.
This condition causes the discs between the vertebrae to lose their proper cushioning, fragment, and herniate. Sometimes degenerative disc disease is accompanied by varying levels of pain. It can also cause tingling and numbness in the upper and lower extremities.
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Tdiu Benefits For Pain In The Lower Back
TDIU, or total disability based on individual unemployability, occurs when a veteran is unable to work as a direct result of their service-connected disability or condition. If a veterans lower back pain prevents them from securing and keeping substantially gainful employment they may be eligible for TDIU benefits paid at a 100 percent disability rate.
Four Types Of Radiculopathy In Veterans
Radiculopathy can have many different signs and symptoms aswell as different names depending on where in the spine it occurs.
The spine consists of four primary regions from yourneck down to your buttocks and pelvic area .
The middle and upper back area is your thoracic spine andthe lower back area is your lumbar spine.
VA Ratings for Spine
For VA disability purposes, the four regions listed below will be considered when it comes to your final VA rating for Radiculopathy.
But first, lets explore how the VA looks at Radiculopathyin more detail.
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Va Rating For Cervical Radiculopathy
The term incomplete paralysis, with this and otherperipheral nerve injuries, indicates a degree of lost or impaired functionsubstantially less than the type picture for complete paralysis given with eachnerve, whether due to varied level of the nerve lesion or to partialregeneration.
When the involvement is wholly sensory, the rating should befor the mild, or at most, the moderate degree.
The ratings for the peripheral nerves are for unilateralinvolvement when bilateral, combine with application of the bilateral factor.
|VA Rating for Cervical Radiculopathy|
|8510, 8511, 8512, Paralysis of Upper, Middle, and Lower Radicular Groups:||Major||Minor|
Why Do Military Personnel Experience Degenerative Disc Disease
Military service puts a lot of stress on your body. Some veterans and active duty military members suffer from spinal or back pain after being discharged or while still serving. Others develop a more serious condition DDD , which is a lifelong condition that has the potential to cause significant disability.
Qualifying military members with degenerative disc disease can receive benefits. However, the path to getting these benefits is often filled with obstacles.
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Va Rating Schedule Lumbar Radiculopathy
|VA Disability Ratings for Lumbar Radiculopathy|
|8520 Paralysis of:|
|Complete the foot dangles and drops, no active movement possible of muscles below the knee, flexion of knee weakened or lost||80%|
The Sacrum is located behind the pelvis.
Five bones fused into atriangular shape, form the sacrum.
The sacrum fits between the two hipbones connecting thespine to the pelvis.
The last lumbar vertebra articulates with thesacrum.
Immediately below the sacrum are five additional bones,fused together to form the Coccyx .
Why It Can Be Difficult To Get Degenerative Disc Disease Benefits
The VA can award benefits only if it finds a connection between a Veterans impairment and their past military service. The VA often describes this connection as a nexus. A nexus is the direct link between a disability, either physical or psychological, that a Veteran suffers from and their time in the military. There are several factors that can lead to a service-connected disability, including the physical strain and stress that many soldiers endure on a daily basis while they are on active duty.
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that develops and progresses over time. Because DDD often does not appear noticeably during a soldiers time in the military, it can be difficult to recognize the condition in its early stages. Instead, many Veterans start to deal with more severe symptoms of DDD years after they have retired from the military.
Many Veterans may not even realize that their degenerative disc disease is service-related. However, looking back on your time in the military, you may be able to quickly recall situations that may have led to chronic back and spine problems:
- Did you ever fall off machinery?
- Did you ever carry heavy weapons or packs?
- Did you ever slip on uneven ground?
- Did you ever strain yourself during basic training?
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Tdiu For Herniated Discs
In some cases, herniated discs can make it difficult or even impossible to work. If this is the case, you may be eligible for total disability based on individual unemployability . To qualify for TDIU, you must show that your condition prevents you from securing and maintaining substantially gainful employment. This means any job that pays at least $18,000 per year pre-tax.