Each VA claim is unique. Even if two veterans have an identical medical condition, the VA may award them a different rating. To make matters even more perplexing, one of the veterans may be granted benefits while the other is rejected. Why? The success or failure of a claim is determined by a variety of variables. It is crucial to have proof.
Evidence demonstrating your injuries and establishing a service connection should be included in your claim. You must demonstrate the connection between your illness and how it manifested as a result of your military service. To create a compelling VA disability claim, both medical and lay (non-professional) evidence is required. Oftentimes, claims are refused because the veteran lacks adequate documentation to back up their claim.
The Department of Veterans Affairs pays a monthly benefit, called disability compensation, to disabled veterans who incurred an injury or illness that can be associated with their military service. The amount a veteran can receive in disability benefits varies according to your disability rating, which can range from zero to 100% based on the number of dependents they are responsible for, the severity of the condition, and other factors.
A 100 percent disability rating describes a medical condition that is entirely debilitating, leaving the person with no hope of obtaining work. If a handicapped veteran with a spouse and no children receives a 100 percent VA disability rating, he or she would be eligible for $3,321.85 per month in disability payments (tax-free) as of 2022.
Even a far less serious medical condition with a lesser disability rating of 40% would qualify them to $696.61 monthly for as long as the service-related disability lasts. As previously stated, monthly pay for military members is precisely proportional to the VA's disability rating.
It's worth pursuing if you have a service-related debilitating medical condition that qualifies you for VA disability payments. However, showing a link to military service might be difficult in some cases. Furthermore, certain diseases are easier to identify than others, which might lead to a better rating or improved eligibility for a veteran.
Three criteria needed for VA disability claim approval
A veteran must meet three conditions to be eligible for VA disability compensation under the law:
· In a medical record, a medical diagnosis of the disability condition is made.
· Medical Nexus Evidence of a direct link between the diagnosed disability condition and the veteran's active-duty military service (Direct Service Connection) OR how the diagnosed disability condition is "proximally caused to" or "exacerbated by" another service-connected ailment (Secondary Service Connection)
· Current impairment symptoms that are having a detrimental impact on your work, life, or social functioning ("Severity of Symptoms")
If you've ever been denied service because you couldn't establish a "Nexus" existed on an "at least as likely as not" criterion, it's probably because you didn't prove it.
The term "nexus" simply refers to a "link" or "connection." Following the filing of your claim, the VA will most certainly schedule you for a Compensation and Pension (C&P) test with a VA-certified examiner to see if there is a relationship or "Nexus" between your claimed disability condition and your service in the military. By having a private medical practitioner create a credible Nexus Letter on behalf of your claim, you may complete this criterion independently and often make a far better case for service connection.
The best VA disability claims
According to a recent Veterans Administration report to Congress, the following are the top 10 medical conditions for which benefits are being granted:
Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing noise or ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is frequently an indication of a more serious issue, such as hearing loss, ear damage, or a circulatory system problem. Tinnitus is characterized by phantom noises in the ears, such as ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing, and humming. Tinnitus is the most widely reported illness among veterans, according to the VA's 2019 report, with 183,145 compensation beneficiaries.
Service members are constantly exposed to loud noises from gunfire, machinery, armored vehicles, and aircraft, as well as other combat-related noises. Furthermore, many veterans suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as a result of severe injuries or improvised explosives (IEDs) (IEDs). Tinnitus is a prevalent ailment among veterans as a result of this.
Importantly, veterans do not require a particular diagnosis of tinnitus to be given military connection. Instead, veterans can provide a subjective account of their symptoms, which will suffice to demonstrate that they fit the rating requirements. The VA will then determine whether your tinnitus is connected to your service.
Tinnitus is classified as a medical condition under 38 CFR 4.87, Diagnostic Code 6260, by the VA. Tinnitus receives the maximum schedular grade of 10%, which considers both ears. Extraschedularly, it is uncommon for a veteran to receive a higher rating.
Muffling of speech and other noises; difficulty comprehending words; repeatedly requesting people to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly; retreat from discussions; and avoidance of various social settings are all symptoms of hearing loss. These symptoms can have a substantial influence on a veteran's quality of living and ability to operate on a day-to-day basis.
Hearing loss is grouped into three primary types: conductive (involves outer or middle ear), sensorineural (involves inner ear), and mixed (a mixture of the two) (a combination of the two). Damage to the inner ear, earwax accumulation, ear infection, and a ruptured eardrum are all common causes of hearing loss.
Veterans are 30 percent more likely than non-veterans to suffer significant hearing impairment, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hearing loss ratings are mostly based on two auditory tests that the VA needs to validate a diagnosis of hearing loss:
· Speech discrimination (Maryland CNC Test) (Maryland CNC Test)
· Pure tone threshold (Puretone Audiometric Test)
The scale runs from 0 to 100 percent, with the majority of veterans receiving between 0 and 10%.
Limitation of Flexion of the Knee
The range of motion of the knee when the veteran moves or curls it inward towards the body is referred to as limitation of flexion of the knee. The range of motion that occurs while the veteran moves their knee in that direction is used to classify this problem as a musculoskeletal condition.
The VA considers the degree of range of motion rather than the discomfort generated by the motion. Under 38 CFR 4.71a, Diagnostic Code 5260, flexion limitation of the knee is classified as 0, 10, 20, or 30%. The most common rating given by the VA for this condition is 10%.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a mental health illness that occurs as a result of seeing a painful, upsetting or otherwise traumatic incident. The symptoms and intensity of PTSD vary from person to person, however, the following are the most typical ones:
· Reliving the tragedy through intrusive, upsetting recollections, flashbacks, and dreams
· Emotional indifference and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are memories of the trauma
· Arousal symptoms include trouble sleeping and concentrating, feeling jittery, and being easily annoyed and outraged.
Veterans must confirm an in-service source of stress that they feel caused their PTSD to establish a service connection for PTSD. This must be supported by proof, such as witness accounts describing the incident.
VA rates PTSD under the Schedule of Ratings for Mental Disorders, 38 CFR § 4.130, Diagnostic Code 9411, at 0, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent. Ratings are determined by the amount of occupational and social disability, as well as the recurrence, length, and intensity of symptoms.
Lumbosacral or cervical strain (back and neck pain)
Simply described, this is discomfort in the back and neck that is incapacitating. Everyday chores, such as driving or simply taking a shower, might be made difficult by lumbosacral and/or cervical difficulties. Side effects from medicines used to treat spinal issues may limit veterans even further.
Back strains, such as lumbar and cervical strains, are rated by the VA under 38 CFR 4.71a, Schedule of Ratings, Musculoskeletal System, with the criteria based mostly on a veteran's range of motion. The scale runs from 0 to 100 percent.
Limitation of arm motion
Limitation of arm mobility usually occurs after an injury to the arm or shoulder has not fully healed or been sufficiently treated. Repeated injuries to the shoulder or arm can exacerbate instability and restrict the range of motion.
The VA rates arm limitation as 20, 30, or 40 percent using 38 CFR 4.71a, Diagnostic Code 5201. VA considers whether the veteran's dominant or non-dominant arm is impaired, as well as the severity of the limitation.
Veterans with scars from military service or service-connected diseases that need surgery may be eligible for service connection. Under 38 CFR 4.118, Diagnostic Codes 7800-7805, scar impairments are classified. The amount of scars or facial deformities a veteran has, the region of the body damaged, the longevity of the scars, and the existence of discomfort or instability are all factors considered.
Scars on the head, face, or neck are graded according to the amount of skin lost and the number of facial features deformed. Scars on parts of the body other than the head, face, and neck are usually rated according to their size. Depending on the diagnostic code, scars might be evaluated anywhere from 0% to 80%.
Limitation of ankle motion
Ankle motion restriction commonly arises after an ankle injury that did not heal properly or was not fully recovered. Due to the physical rigors of military training and duty, many veterans incur ankle ailments. Limitation of ankle mobility is commonly graded at 10 or 20% under 38 CFR 4.71, Schedule of Ratings, Musculoskeletal System, and Diagnostic Code 5271.
Migraines are severe, recurrent headaches that can be entirely incapacitating. Pain, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, lightheadedness, and impaired vision are all possible symptoms. Noise exposure, extreme or stressful events, and acute brain damage are some of the variables that may add to the greater risk of migraines among veterans.
Migraine headaches are classified as Neurological Conditions and Convulsive Disorders, Diagnostic Code 8100, under 38 C.F.R. 4.124a. Migraines are graded on a scale of 0 to 50 percent, based on their severity and frequency.
Paralysis of the sciatic nerve(radiculopathy)
Sciatica is a nerve disorder in which pain spreads from the lower back down the legs along the route of the sciatic nerve. It happens when the sciatic nerve is constricted or crushed. Dizziness, tingling, burning sensations, and muscular weakness are all major signs of sciatica.
The most serious condition of sciatica, paralysis of the sciatic nerve, is especially frequent among veterans, owing to its relationship to back and neck problems. Sciatica is classified as a neurological condition and convulsive disorder under 38 CFR 4.124a, Schedule of Ratings, Neurological Conditions, and Convulsive Disorders. The paralysis of the sciatic nerve is classified as 10, 20, 40, 60, or 80 percent under Diagnostic Code 8520.
Veterans can utilize VA Form 21-526EZ to submit an original claim or increase claim for VA benefits.