An orthopedic condition can cause pain in your joints, muscles, and bones
The term orthopedic condition is extremely broad and covers a variety of disabilities you could encounter from your active-duty service. This ambiguity leads to confusion for veterans who don’t know where to start their claim.
An orthopedic condition includes anything related to pain or dysfunction in your muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, and joints. It can also affect your bodily movement concerning your musculoskeletal system.
Veterans will commonly have pain in their knees, back, shoulders, wrists, feet, ankles, hips, or elbows that relate to an orthopedic condition. Before you file a VA claim for an orthopedic condition, you’ll want to ensure that you have the correct documentation because this gives you a better chance of success.
How to receive orthopedic disability benefits
Before applying for a VA claim for an orthopedic condition, you’ll need three things: a current diagnosis, medical documentation, and proof of a service-connected event causing your ailment.
Everything begins with your doctor’s current diagnosis because if you don’t have proof of your disability, the VA will deny your claim. Your medical records must mention an actual examination of your orthopedic condition and any additional times you’ve visited your physician seeking treatment for it.
For example, if you hurt your back in the military, but have not been on active duty for five years ago, proving a service connection might be challenging. If you’ve visited your doctor for treatment of this condition, however, it goes a long way toward proving this link.
A written diagnosis of your orthopedic condition is also vital because it presents proof that the condition exists. It’s helpful if you have documentation showing that you visited a doctor for the issue while still in the military or soon after your service ended, as well.
The more proof you can provide to the VA, the better your chances of a successful claim become.
Types of orthopedic injuries
We mentioned that orthopedic injuries cover a wide range of maladies, but some conditions are more common than others.
One of the more prevalent orthopedic ailments for veterans is lower back pain. An underlying condition, such as spinal stenosis or a vertebral fracture, can cause this disability. However, experiencing pain without a diagnosed affliction is a valid reason to file a claim.
You’ll still need medical documentation, even if you don’t have a specific diagnosis, demonstrating that you’re experiencing chronic pain. Doctors will look at your loss of range of motion to determine the amount of compensation you receive.
Another common orthopedic condition in veterans, and the population in general, is arthritis. The thing about arthritis is that it’s a general term used to describe over 100 different conditions. The disease offers low compensation amounts unless it’s a potentially debilitating condition like rheumatoid arthritis.
Other orthopedic injuries that you might experience include muscle injuries, muscle tears, broken bones, joint conditions, and amputations.
When the injury is clearly service-related, such as a documented injury, the process is far easier than with a disability that develops over time.
Schedule of ratings for orthopedic injuries
The disability rating that the VA assigns depends on the type of orthopedic condition you’re experiencing and its severity.
Back pain, for example, can provide as much as a 100% disability rating if there’s extreme stiffness throughout your entire spine that makes it challenging to move. The same can be said for other joints, as your range of motion is used to determine the severity of your disability.
Arthritis, on the other hand, is only eligible for a 10% or 20% disability rating, unless you’re diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which can receive a 100% rating if you’re entirely bedridden. You might also have the chance at a higher rating if you factor in pain, which is a disability, into the equation.
If you have more than one orthopedic condition that’s service-connected, the VA uses a formula to combine them into a new rating. If you’re unable to hold gainful employment because of your orthopedic injury, you can apply for further benefits through the VA, as well.
Getting your claim started
If you don’t know where to start with your VA claim, speaking with an expert is the first step. Orthopedic conditions are confusing because they cover a broad range of afflictions, so receiving professional assistance can work wonders for your claim.
Veterans Guardian VA Claim Consulting has an entire team of specialists standing by to support your VA disability benefits claim. We can assist as you work through your claim, ensuring that you have the information required to succeed.