VA Range of Motion Rating: A Guide to Disability Claims (2022)

Posted byBerry LawonJune 21, 2019 inAppeals

How The VA Rates Disabilities

Whenever a Veteran applies to receive disability benefits from the VA, their claim will either be approved, deferred, or denied.

If your claim has been approved, you will be given a specific disability rating between ten and 100 percent. This rating will grant you a specific amount of monthly compensation from the VA. Your VA benefits will be tax-free, and they can help you support yourself and your loved ones if your disability has made it difficult for you to work and live normally.

Certain disabilities can correspond with a specific disability score from the VA. The VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities provides a basis for service connection and rating each disability. The Schedule of Ratings lists disabilities under different categories based on the part of the body affected. Under each category is a list of diagnostic codes representing common disabilities of that body part.

Schedule of Ratings

The Schedule of Ratings for the musculoskeletal system is found at 38 C.F.R § 4.71a, and it contains numerous subcategories. Many musculoskeletal conditions are rated based on the range of motion, a mostly testable measure of how much loss of function the disability causes. If your musculoskeletal condition inhibits your range of motion significantly, you are more likely to receive a higher disability rating from the VA. Using a measurable metric like range of motion (ROM) makes it easier for the VA to accurately assess a Veteran’s level of disability.

(Video) VA Disability Ratings for Shoulder and Arm Conditions

The Schedule of Ratings expresses range of motion in degrees, making it easy for disabilities to be rated and categorized. The Schedule also provides charts to help assist with understanding what these degrees mean.

For instance, the following chart accompanies the Schedule of Ratings for ankle, knee, and hip disabilities:

VA Range of Motion Rating: A Guide to Disability Claims (1)

Each subcategory under the Rating Schedule includes numerous diagnostic codes, which represent specific disabilities. For instance, under the subcategory for “The Knee and Leg,” there are eight diagnostic codes:

  • Ankylosis of the knee
  • Other impairment of the knee
  • Cartilage damage with locking
  • Cartilage removal
  • Limitation of flexion
  • Limitation of extension
  • Impairment of the tibia and fibula
  • Genu recurvatum

Several of these disabilities are rated based on the degree of motion, but we will look specifically at limitation of extension for an example.

Limitation of Extension and Range of Motion

Limitation of extension for the knee is rated under diagnostic code 5261. There are six different ratings, from 0% to 50%, listed as follows:

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  • Extension limited to 45 degrees: 50
  • Extension limited to 30 degrees: 40
  • Extension limited to 20 degrees: 30
  • Extension limited to 15 degrees: 20
  • Extension limited to 10 degrees: 10
  • Extension limited to 5 degrees: 0

As the chart above shows, extending the knee straight out with extension less than 5 degrees of being completely straight, a Veteran will be given a 0% rating. From there, it is easy to see where each degree listed in the diagnostic code lies. If your knees are significantly inhibited in their range of motion to the point that they can only extend to more than 45 degrees of being completely straight, your disability score is likely to be as high as possible.

To determine the extent to which your musculoskeletal disability affects your range of motion, you’ll need to visit a doctor and get your condition evaluated. Whenever a Veteran applies to receive disability benefits from the VA, they are asked to visit their regional VA office for a Compensation & Pension examination. During a C&P exam, a doctor or medical professional will measure your range of motion and express the extension in degrees for rating purposes.

Understanding How Flare-Ups Impact Range of Motion Claims

As anyone with musculoskeletal problems will know, your range of motion may vary from day-to-day. You can struggle with aches and pains of varying severity throughout any given week, and your condition can even improve or worsen throughout the day. This can make it tough to present the VA with an accurate representation of the severity of your disability because you may often be dealing with varying levels of pain or limited range of motion.

The VA is looking for the impact that your disability has on your life – on your ability to work, maintain relationships with family and friends, and carry out simple tasks. Since a musculoskeletal disability can significantly inhibit your movement, aspects of life that used to come easily may now be nearly impossible for you. If your disability has dramatically impaired your range of motion, the VA should recognize that you need and deserve disability benefits to support yourself and your loved ones.

Because the severity of musculoskeletal disability’s symptoms can vary from day to day, a Veteran might wake up in the morning unable to touch their toes when they could the day before. However, as their joints warm up, they might have a more considerable degree of motion and be able to move and stretch more freely.

(Video) A Vet Might Get VA Disability Benefits for Knee Pain from a Variety of Different Conditions

Alternatively, they might suffer from more stiffness and loss of range of motion throughout the day. Stiffness and loss of range of motion can pop up due to consistent use of a certain muscle group or body part. Sometimes, though, increases in the severity of your symptoms can be more unpredictable. Random flare-ups are common in musculoskeletal disabilities, making each day a different experience for Veterans with these conditions.

The amount that the severity of an injury can vary sometimes makes it difficult for the VA to accurately assess and rate a disabled Veteran with a musculoskeletal condition. What if you went to your C&P examination on a great day with minimal symptoms? In that case, the VA would have the impression that your range of motion was much higher than it might be.

C&P examiners are instructed to ask about both repetitive motion and flare-ups for musculoskeletal conditions. By asking the right questions and keeping tabs on a Veteran’s symptoms, the VA should get a more accurate sense of a Veteran’s disability and how its severity can vary from day-to-day.

Tell Your C&P Examiner Everything You Can About Your Symptoms, Including Flare-Ups

In addition to testing for initial range of motion, your VA physician should also check your repetitive motion to see if there is a higher degree of functional loss afterward. For flare-ups, the examiner should ask whether a Veteran deals with flare-ups and ask them to describe their functional loss as a result. This can be difficult because the symptoms limiting functional loss are not usually related to range of motion.

Joint pain can also be a factor that can increase the severity of a Veteran’s disability. Frequent aches and pains can add to the severity of a musculoskeletal disability in addition to problems with range of motion. These symptoms can be extremely painful, and they can most definitely contribute to the VA’s rating of your disability.

When taking your C&P exam, tell your VA physician everything you can about your condition, including how your symptoms may vary from day-to-day. Since flare-ups can frequently make your symptoms worse, make sure that you do not accidentally give the VA the impression that your condition is milder than it is. Your range of motion may be better than normal on the day you take your C&P exam — if so, communicate with your VA physician about the fact that your symptoms can get better and worse unpredictably.

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VA Disability Lawyers

One of the most important aspects of qualifying for disability benefits from the VA is establishing a connection between your disability and your military service. Without service connection, you will not be able to qualify for compensation —the VA can only provide financial support to Veterans with verifiable, service-connected disabilities.

In many cases, Veterans may find their claims denied even though their disabilities are related to their service in the military. Sometimes, the VA does not accurately assess a Veteran’s condition, which can lead to a wrongful denial of a claim. If you feel that your claim has been denied wrongly, you can make an appeal with the help of an attorney.

The VA appeals process starts at your regional Department Of Veterans’ Affairs Office. With the help of an attorney, you can present additional evidence to the VA that can influence the VA’s decision regarding your claim. During the appeals process, you can present medical records, testimonials from fellow soldiers, and any other evidence that may play a role in changing the outcome of your claim.

If you are a Veteran with a service-connected disability that limits your range of motion, you are entitled to disability compensation. The experienced VA disability attorneys on our team understand how VA claims work and are dedicated to helping Veterans get the compensation they are entitled to. If you have a disability claim with the VA that you would like to appeal, please contact our team at (888) 682-0786 to schedule a free case evaluation.

Sources:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14526-musculoskeletal-pain

(Video) Winning VA Compensation For Knees: Part 2

https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics

https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/musculoskeletal-disorders/index.html

FAQs

How does the VA measure range of motion? ›

The VA physician or C&P examiner will use a tool called a goniometer to measure the range of motion in your shoulder. This tool, used to measure angles, is required by law to determine your range of motion.

What is a range of motion test for disability? ›

A ROM assessment is most commonly used to measure movement of the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers.

What is the average VA rating for degenerative arthritis? ›

Degenerative arthritis, caused by overuse of the joints or an injury, is the most common form of arthritis in veterans and is rated under Diagnostic Code 5003. Veterans receive either a 10% or 20% rating depending on the severity of their symptoms and the number of joints affected.

Is erectile dysfunction a service-connected disability? ›

Erectile dysfunction is a condition that can stand in the way of a happy, fulfilling life. If you developed erectile dysfunction during or after your military service, you may qualify to receive VA disability benefits.

What should you not say at C&P exam? ›

Your C&P exam is for you to describe your symptoms and limitations to the examiner. That's it. The last thing you should be doing during this is discussing VA ratings and legal aspects of your case. Do not cite, word for word, the VA disability rating criteria and how your symptoms fulfill it.

How do I know if my C&P exam went well? ›

The best, and often only, way to tell if a C&P exam went well for the veteran is to read the exam report. However, VA does not issue the veteran a copy of the report unless they specifically request it. To do this, veterans can send a letter requesting a copy of their exam report to their Regional Office.

How do you calculate range of motion? ›

Goniometer. Apart from physical examination, ROM evaluation is most frequently performed using a device called a goniometer, an instrument that measures the angle at a joint. Goniometers measure range of motion in degrees, from zero to 180 or 360, and come in various shapes and sizes to be used on particular joints.

What is the average VA rating for shoulder pain? ›

20/20% – at shoulder level.

What percentage of VA disability is shoulder pain? ›

Can I get VA Disability for shoulder pain? Yes, as long as the shoulder pain is service-connected, you can qualify for VA Disability. It will be rated the minimum 10% unless there is limited motion that qualifies for a higher rating.

Is arthritis a permanent VA disability? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis, as an active condition, may receive a 100% VA disability rating if you experience constitutional manifestations associated with active joint involvement and is totally incapacitating.

How do you prove arthritis is service connected? ›

How is a Service Connection Established for Arthritis? To establish a service connection for arthritis, a veteran must prove that the condition was a result of an event that occurred during service, such as an in-service injury or overuse of a joint during a service-related task that caused the condition to develop.

Is osteoarthritis considered a permanent disability? ›

Osteoarthritis is a long term disability, so being awarded an SSDI benefit gives you the financial support you need for years to come.

How Much Does VA pay for erectile dysfunction 2021? ›

The current pay rate for VA Special Monthly Compensation for Erectile Dysfunction is $111.74 per month.

What is the easiest VA disability to claim? ›

The #1 Easiest VA Disability to Claim: Tinnitus

Tinnitus can only have one VA rating. It is either 10% or nothing. There is no lower VA rating and there is no higher VA rating. Therefore, we call it a “low-value” claim, because it is always rated at 10%, and 10% only, with no exceptions.

Is High Blood Pressure considered a VA disability? ›

Hypertension as a VA Disability

Hypertensive vascular disease (hypertension and isolated systolic hypertension) is considered a potential VA disability under the Federal Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Code 7101 (Diseases of the Heart).

What triggers a C&P exam? ›

When Are C&P Exams Needed? VA will call for an exam when more information about a veteran, veteran's condition, or the relationship between a veteran's condition and their service is required to decide a claim.

Can C&P examiner make diagnosis? ›

Most C&P exams involve the examiner:

Reviewing your medical and service history based on the contents of your file. Performing tests to diagnose your condition and determine its severity.

How should I dress for the Virginia C&P exam? ›

How should I dress for my C&P examination? Veterans may dress as they would normally dress. They do not need to wear formal clothing or make extra efforts to improve appearance for an examination. The examiner would prefer to see veterans as they appear in everyday life.

How long does it take to get a decision from C&P 2022? ›

What happens after my exam? We'll review all the evidence in your file, assign your disability rating, and send you a decision notice (a letter letting you know your disability rating). Each claim is different, but it usually takes us about 3 to 4 months to process a claim from start to finish.

Can I see my C&P exam results? ›

You can request a copy of your C&P examination results using the Freedom of Information Act or make an in-person request at the Regional Benefits Office. If the exam was performed at a VA facility, there should be an option to download the report on the VA's MyHealthEVet website approximately one week after your exam.

Whats the longest a VA claim can take? ›

The VA publishes its claims processing timelines, and in general, you can expect to receive a VA rating decision within 90 to 120 calendar days (3-4 months) from beginning to end. However, VA disability claim decision timelines can vary drastically—from just a few days to two years or more.

What causes limited range of motion? ›

When a joint does not move fully and easily in its normal manner it is considered to have a limited range of motion. Motion may be limited by a mechanical problem within the joint, swelling of tissue around the joint, spasticity of the muscles, pain or disease.

What is considered full range of motion? ›

It involves both the distance a joint can move and the direction in which it can move. There are established ranges considered normal for various joints in the body. For a joint to have full ROM, it must have good flexibility. Flexibility is the ROM around a joint.

What is the VA rating for back pain? ›

What is the average VA disability rating for back pain? VA disability ratings for back pain can range from 10% to 100%, depending on the severity of the pain, the range of motion the veteran is left with, and the frequency of the pain.

What is the VA disability rating for neck pain? ›

Ratings for neck pain can be anywhere from 10-percent to 100-percent, if the condition is severe enough and involves the entire spine, rather than only the cervical spine. Most neck ratings fall between 10-percent and 30-percent, depending on your range of motion limitations, including painful motion.

How does VA rate knee pain? ›

VA ratings for knee pain range from 0% to 60%. The more pain or lack of mobility in the knee, the higher the rating. If there is too much wear and tear on the knee and it requires surgery, a veteran may be granted a temporary 100% rating following surgery.

What is VA rating for insomnia? ›

VA Disability Ratings for Insomnia Disorder

So this means, insomnia could be rated like mental disorders which range from 0% to a 100% disability rating, per the Schedule of Ratings for Mental Disorders (38 CFR § 4.130) meaning it is possible to receive over $3,000 from the VA for service connected insomnia issues.

How does the VA rate shoulder arthritis? ›

Degenerative arthritis will be rated at 10 or 20 percent based upon the number of joints/joint groups affected and the level of incapacitation. VA requires that limitation of motion be confirmed by observations such as swelling, muscle spasms, or evidence of painful motion.

Is a rotator cuff tear a disability? ›

Rotator cuff tears can severely limit a person's range of motion, which may qualify them for disability benefits based on their inability to work.

Is sleep apnea a VA disability? ›

If you developed sleep apnea during your military service, you could be eligible to receive disability benefits. But there are several challenges to winning veterans (VA) disability for sleep apnea, and many veterans receive denials after they apply.

Does VA pay for osteoarthritis? ›

Because arthritis is so prevalent in soldiers and veterans, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determined that this condition is service-connected if diagnosed within a year of discharge. However, if symptoms of arthritis present in later years, you may still be eligible for VA disability.

How much disability will I get for arthritis? ›

If you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits for arthritis, the amount that you will receive is based on your average lifetime earnings. You will receive an annual statement that details your Social Security earnings to date, and it also provides a disability benefits estimate.

What is secondary to knee pain? ›

TDIU and Conditions Secondary to Knee Pain

TDIU, is a monthly VA benefit that compensates veterans at the 100 percent level if they are prevented from finding or maintaining substantially gainful employment because of their conditions.

Can you get disability for arthritis in your knees? ›

Arthritis can cause your joints to experience major dysfunction due to deformities such as misalignments, shortening of the joint or chronic pain and stiffness. If your condition has led to a dysfunction in any of your joints, you can automatically qualify for benefits.

How do you prove Back pain is service connected? ›

Therefore, in regards to direct service connection for back pain, veterans must show evidence of the following: A current diagnosis of a back condition; An in-service event, injury, or illness; and. A medical nexus (i.e. link) between the current, diagnosed back condition and the in-service event, injury, or illness.

How do you test for osteoarthritis? ›

Diagnosis
  1. X-rays. Cartilage doesn't show up on X-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. ...
  2. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage.
16 Jun 2021

What is considered severe osteoarthritis? ›

What is considered severe osteoarthritis? In severe or advanced osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joints has worn away. This causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty performing everyday tasks. With osteoarthritis, pain and stiffness is common first thing in the day and typically lessen after a while.

Can VA prove erectile dysfunction? ›

It is possible to obtain a disability rating for erectile dysfunction. Within “§4.115b Ratings of the genitourinary system—diagnoses” of the VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Code 7522 addresses “penis, deformity, with loss of erectile power” and provides a 20% rating.

What is the highest VA disability rating for erectile dysfunction? ›

Erectile dysfunction is rated under 38 C.F.R. § 4.115b, Diagnostic Code 7522. Under DC 7522 a 20 percent rating is warranted for deformity of the penis with loss of erectile power. This is the sole disability rating provided under this diagnostic code provision.

At what age does VA disability stop? ›

When veterans reach age 67, all VA disability payments would revert to the amount associated with the rated disability level; veterans age 67 or older who are already receiving IU payments would no longer receive them after the effective date of the option.

Why does the VA deny so many claims? ›

The Veteran Affairs website reports that 75 percent of all initial applications for VA benefits are denied. These applications are often denied because they have incomplete information or lack necessary documentation. Other reasons for denial include: Not enough evidence to support your disability.

Should you use a VSO for VA claims? ›

No, you are not required to use a VSO. Veterans always have the option to prepare and file their own VA claim online for free at VA.gov.

What is the VA disability rating for depression and anxiety? ›

The Veteran's service-connected anxiety disorder with major depressive disorder is currently rated as 50 percent disabling since July 14, 2010 and 70 percent disabling since January 21, 2011, under 38 C.F.R.

How do you prove hypertension is service connected? ›

Proving Hypertension Is Service-Connected

Medical records that show a diagnosis of hypertension. Blood pressure measurements on three different days that show at least two high blood pressure readings per day. That your blood pressure has appeared or worsened during or within a year after your military service release.

What VA claims are secondary to hypertension? ›

Common VA Secondary Conditions to Hypertension

There are several VA secondary conditions commonly associated with hypertension, including ischemic heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

What percentage does the VA give for hypertension? ›

A 10 percent rating for hypertension is assigned where the Veteran has diastolic pressure that is predominantly 100 or more; or systolic pressure that is predominantly 160 or more; or where the Veteran has a history of diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more and requires continuous medication for control.

How can I measure my range of motion at home? ›

How to measure knee ROM at home ALONE - Tools, Tips, and Tricks

What are the 3 types of range of motion? ›

The 3 types of ROM exercises include passive, active, and active assistive ROM. Passive ROM is the movement applied to a joint by another person or motion machine.

What is limited range of motion? ›

When a joint does not move fully and easily in its normal manner it is considered to have a limited range of motion. Motion may be limited by a mechanical problem within the joint, swelling of tissue around the joint, spasticity of the muscles, pain or disease.

How do you do range of motion? ›

Range of Motion Exercises - YouTube

What is the normal degree of bend in a knee? ›

A fully bent knee will max out at about a full range of motion of 135° degrees of flexion. As a general rule, a knee flexion of about 125° will allow you to carry out most normal activities. For daily living, a minimum flexion of around 105°-110° is required.

Is there an app to measure range of motion? ›

The "Goniometer" app measures the angle of the device, using the accelerometer and gyroscope. Just place your device against two surfaces in turn and Goniometer will give you the angle between them.

What is the normal range of motion for a knee? ›

Reference Values for Normal Joint Range of Motion
MotionFemalesMales
Knee flexion137.8 (136.5 – 139.1)132.9 (131.6 – 134.2)
Knee extension1.2 (0.7 – 1.7)0.5 (0.1 – 0.9)
Ankle dorsiflexion11.6 (10.6 – 12.6)11.9 (10.9 – 12.9)
Ankle plantar flexion56.5 (55.0 – 58.0)49.4 (47.7 – 51.1)
8 more rows

What factors influence range of motion? ›

What factors influence range of motion? joint structure, ligaments, tendons, muscles, skin, tissue injury, fat (or adipose) tissue, body temperature, activity level, age and gender all influence an individual's range of motion about a joint.

What is normal range of motion for back? ›

Lumbar Spine Range of Motion:
Normal
Flexion60
Extension25
Left Lat Flex25
Right Lat Flex25
3 more rows

How can I increase my range of motion? ›

7 Ways to Improve Your Range of Motion
  1. Keep your stress down. Stress forms knots and keeps muscles tense, the absolute last thing you want to deal with when a full range of motion is your goal. ...
  2. Keep hydrated. ...
  3. Push exercise motions to your limit. ...
  4. Breathe correctly. ...
  5. Deep tissue massages. ...
  6. Post-workout stretches.
10 Oct 2015

What condition may cause a restricted range of motion? ›

Motion may be limited because of a problem within the joint, swelling of tissue around the joint, stiffness of the ligaments and muscles, or pain.

Does pain affect range of motion? ›

When we have an acute injury and are in pain we are more likely to guard our movements. This will most likely cause us to avoid specific movements. Over time we become accustomed to these reduced movements and our full range of motion can be affected. This is because pain can restrict end of range movements.

Does arthritis limit range of motion? ›

The stiffness, pain, and swelling associated with arthritis can severely reduce the range of motion of joints (the distance joints can move in certain directions). Avoiding physical activity because of pain or discomfort also can lead to significant muscle loss and excessive weight gain.

Does range of motion help with arthritis? ›

Range-of-motion exercises are ideal for arthritis patients because you can evolve them as your joints get stronger and more flexible. During range-of-motion exercises, you can gently move your joints as far as they can go.

Why does range of motion need to be measured? ›

Range of motion or flexibility testing is important in determining the cause and severity of issues you may be having with joint movement. Improper flexibility can cause pain, limitations in the activities of daily living (ADL's) and it can even cause compensation patterns that may lead to more dysfunction.

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4. Upper Extremities Impairment Ratings
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