VA Rating for Bilateral Knee Injuries & Conditions

VA Rating for Bilateral Knee Injuries & Conditions

Military service can expose Veterans to countless situations that cause future injuries, disabilities, or illnesses. Luckily, Veterans who suffer from an injury during their time in the service are eligible to receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The process of making a service connection can be long and difficult. Veterans should be prepared with information ahead of time so that they are prepared to make an effective claim.

One common injury that many Veterans suffer from is knee pain. Whether it is from wear and tear, injuries, or combat, Veterans are often able to receive benefits for their service-connected knee injury.

While knee conditions are a common reason to file a VA claim, many Veterans are not successful in receiving as high a rating as they deserve. The VA denies around 30% of disability claims each year, making it crucial for Veterans to prepare themselves or consult an expert before filing their knee-related claims.

What Is Bilateral Knee Pain?

Many factors can contribute to knee pain. Pain can result from a knee injury sustained during a Veteran’s time in the service, a service-related condition like osteoarthritis, or just wear and tear over a prolonged period of time. 

When a Veteran experiences pain in both knees, it is called bilateral knee pain. Like other forms of knee pain, bilateral knee pain can be the result of injury, illness, or chronic stress and strain on the joints.

Some treatments for bilateral knee pain and other conditions will successfully reduce the symptoms that a Veteran suffers from. Other times, treatment may not be as effective — particularly when old age causes leg bones and ligaments to become weaker.

However, this does not mean that a Veteran should avoid treatment since that will only lead to the knee condition getting progressively worse. Even if it does not completely heal bilateral knee pain, treatment can drastically slow the progression of symptoms.

What Are the Common Treatments for Knee Pain and Injuries?

If a Veteran notices a bilateral knee injury, it is important that they seek a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Luckily, there are many forms of treatment. These treatments fall into two categories: surgical and non-surgical options.

Non-surgical options:

  • Rest: One of the most important treatments for bilateral knee conditions is to let the knees rest. When the knee needs to heal, pressure and stress will only aggravate the condition.
  • Physical therapy: Your physician might recommend exercises to strengthen leg muscles and make your knees function properly.
  • NSAIDs: Doctors may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce knee pain and swelling.
  • Steroids: In addition to pain relievers, your physician may suggest corticosteroids in the form of a pill or an injection. These steroids reduce inflammation and slow the progression of a knee condition.

Surgical options:

  • Arthroscopic surgery: This surgery uses a small, thin incision and a camera probe to diagnose and treat painful conditions like a torn ACL.
  • Meniscectomy: This surgery removes a torn portion of the meniscus, a cartilage pad in the knee that is a common cause of knee pain and injury. 
  • Knee replacement: This option may be necessary when all other treatment plans have been ruled out. Knee replacements can be partial, full, or even bilateral, depending on the severity of the condition or injury.

Veterans should consult their doctor for the best form of treatment for their specific knee condition.

What Are the VA Disability Ratings for Knee Conditions?

Many Veterans suffer from painful knee conditions due to the demanding level of physical activity that the military requires.

Because of this, many Veterans go through the VA claims process for their knee pain, hoping to get a good disability rating so they can receive substantial benefits.

However, when Veterans get their results back from the VA regarding their disability rating, many are surprised at how low their rating is. The reason?

The VA has certain rules and regulations that make knee claims unique. If a Veteran is unaware of these rules, they may not factor them in when they make a claim.

For instance, the VA does not allow pyramiding, which means that they will not use multiple diagnoses to evaluate a single disability — nor compensate a Veteran multiple times for the same manifestation of that disability.

However, they will evaluate different manifestations of a knee problem separately. This means that a Veteran can pursue a higher disability rating if they feel their knee disability has worsened. This may be especially relevant for conditions like osteoarthritis, which progressively worsens over time.

Veterans can learn more about specific diagnostic codes and their corresponding disability ratings here. Knowing this information in advance can help a Veteran compile the necessary evidence to prove a service connection for their knee injury.

What Are Common Causes of Bilateral Knee Conditions?

One of the most common causes of knee injuries in the military is paratrooper injuries. About 80% of the reported cases of paratrooper injuries were leg injuries from training or specific missions.

A great amount of physical demand is required to perform some paratrooper duties, and this high demand can put stress on a Veteran’s knees. Furthermore, even the smallest mistake in a paratrooper landing can lead to a substantial knee injury.

There are cases where a military knee injury is only short-term and is resolved by the end of a Veteran’s time in the service.

However, there are other instances where a Veteran will suffer from their knee injury long after they have been honorably discharged. If this is the case, the Veteran should make a claim through the VA and seek benefits.

To do this, they will first have to make a service connection for their bilateral knee condition.

How Do I Make a Service Connection for a Knee Condition or Injury?

For any disability to be considered by the VA for benefits, a Veteran must make a service connection.

Failure to make a service connection for a disability will result in a denial of a claim. This means that the Veteran will not receive any benefits from the VA for their disability.

There are three components that a Veteran needs to show in order to make a service connection:

  • A current diagnosis for the injury or disability
  • Evidence of an in-service stressor
  • A medical link between the current diagnosis and the in-service stressor

Any evidence that a Veteran compiles should help support these three main components.

The evidence will also determine what disability rating a Veteran gets. If the severity of the symptoms or any other evidence is unclear, the VA may give the Veteran a low disability rating, even if they approve the claim.

Veterans may feel as though they deserve a higher disability rating for their knee condition. In these cases, Veterans can appeal a VA decision and seek a higher disability rating.

How To Appeal

After all their hard work compiling evidence for a claim, a Veteran can still find themselves disappointed in the VA’s decision — either because their claim has been denied or because they’ve received a lower rating than they deserve.

This can make many Veterans feel frustrated and lose hope. On average, it takes over a year for the VA to make a decision, so a denied claim means the Veteran will have to wait even longer to receive benefits.

Fortunately, Veterans have the ability to submit a supplemental claim and appeal any decision that the VA makes within a year of the VA’s initial decision.

Since the supplemental claims process can often be more difficult and confusing than the initial claims process, a Veteran should seek help from an experienced attorney like the ones at Berry Law.

Working with an attorney will help a Veteran’s claim be more successful, as many Veterans overlook important evidence that could be effective in their claims. An attorney will make sure that a Veteran has all the evidence they need before they send in their claim or appeal.


Bilateral knee injuries are common among Veterans because of the wear and tear that time in the service can cause. Veterans who still suffer from knee pain after their time in the service should seek benefits from the VA to help offset the costs of treatment.

In order to have an effective claim or appeal, a Veteran should work with an experienced attorney for the best results.

For more information on VA laws and Veteran benefits, visit our website.


Knee Pain – Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic

Causes and Treatments for Bilateral Knee Pain | Verywell Health

38 CFR § 4.71a – Schedule of Ratings – Musculoskeletal System | Cornell Law School – Legal Information Institute

Common Knee Injuries | OrthoInfo | AAOS

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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