Veteran Leg, Arm, and Knee Injuries

Veteran Leg, Arm, and Knee Injuries

Due to their service, America’s Veterans may suffer a wide range of injuries and negative health conditions. Veterans who suffer leg, arm, and knee injuries need to understand the loss of limb use or loss of limb VA disability benefits. In some cases, your combined injuries may qualify for total disability benefits.

Read on to learn more about Veteran leg, arm, and knee injuries and how to recover the disability compensation you deserve for your service-connected disability.

What Are Leg, Arm, and Knee Injuries?

Injuries to the arms, legs, or knees can frequently be debilitating or disabling to a greater degree than other types of injuries. That’s because these limbs are used for mobility/locomotion or everyday tasks, like picking up objects or moving oneself.

Veterans who suffer injuries to the arms, legs, or knees often face difficulties throughout the rest of their lives. Because of this, the VA recognizes the severity of these injuries and their potential for disability.

Many potential hazards or threats one may face during active duty military service can cause or aggravate leg, arm, and knee injuries, such as:

  • Accidents in the workplace. For example, a military Veteran may get one of their limbs stuck between two pieces of heavy machinery or equipment, suffering injuries as a result.
  • Combat. Some Veterans are injured in the arms or legs when they see battle, resulting in severe injuries or disabilities.
  • Repetitive motions and overuse. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the arms and legs can become worn down and injured over time due to overuse or repetitive motions, such as running or jogging with heavy equipment (which can be particularly difficult on the shoulders, legs, and knees).

Common leg, arm, and knee injuries in service members can include but are not limited to:

  • Torn tendons and ligaments
  • Knee joint problems
  • Broken bones that heal improperly and cause loss of use
  • Muscle degradation or injuries

Which Leg, Arm, and Knee Injuries Qualify for VA Disability?

Any injuries a Veteran experiences while serving in the military qualify for VA disability benefits to support themselves and their dependents, provided those injuries have a provable service connection.

Put simply, a service connection is a status awarded by the VA once it determines that a Veteran’s injury:

  • Occurred because of the Veteran’s military service based on medical evidence
  • Occurred while the Veteran was on active duty or in the middle of service

For example, if a Veteran suffers a knee injury while deployed and carrying heavy equipment, that injury could qualify them for VA disability benefits. As another example, if a Veteran injures their shoulder while in combat, that shoulder injury will qualify for VA disability benefits once the Veteran files the correct application.

However, proving a service connection can be difficult in some circumstances. For instance, if a Veteran only discovers knee damage or an injury after leaving the military, they may have trouble proving that the knee damage accumulated because of their military duties. 

Gathering evidence and presenting it in a compelling package to the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans benefits office can be tough alone. That’s why you should immediately contact a knowledgeable Veterans law firm like Berry Law. 

VA Disability Ratings for Leg and Knee Injuries

The VA has a comprehensive rating system for all manner of Veteran injuries. An injury receives a diagnostic code and rating between 0% and 100%, which determines how much a Veteran may receive in monthly benefits.

Leg and knee impairments can be rated and categorized under the following diagnostic codes and rating ranges. These ratings can affect your special monthly compensation rate.

  • Diagnostic Code 5055: Knee replacement with a prosthesis. Rating of 30% to 100%
  • Diagnostic Code 5256: Ankylosis of the knee. Rating of 30% to 60% depending on remaining function, range of motion, or flexibility
  • Diagnostic Code 5257: Other impairment of the knee. Rating of 10% to 30% depending on instability (difficulty maintaining balance)
  • Diagnostic Code 5258: Dislocated cartilage. Rating of 20% if the Veteran experiences frequent episodes of locking or pain in the joint
  • Diagnostic Code 5260: Limitation of flexion of the leg. Rating of 0% to 30% depending on how much flexibility is limited
  • Diagnostic Code 5261: Limitation of extension of the leg. Rating of 0% to 50% depending on how much extension is limited
  • Diagnostic Code 5262: Impairment of tibia and fibula. Rating of 10% to 40% depending on whether the Veteran requires a brace

Complete Leg Amputation Ratings

Loss of limb VA disability benefits applies if a Veteran had to have part or all of their leg amputated due to a medical emergency. The complete amputation of a leg includes the removal of the femur and any amount of the pubic bone. If this occurs, the Veteran automatically receives a disability rating of 100%. Other ratings decrease depending on the extension of the leg amputation as follows:

  • 90% if the invitation included the removal of the femur and intrinsic pelvic musculature
  • 80% if the amputation was of the upper third of the leg
  • 60% if the amputation was of the middle or lower third of the leg, or if amputation isn’t improved by a prosthesis or the retention of natural knee action
  • 40% if the amputation of the leg was beneath the knee, which enables a prosthesis, or if the amputation resulted in the loss of a foot

The Bilateral Factor for Injuries

In addition to the above ratings breakdown, Veterans may receive higher disability benefits if they experience knee pain in both knees rather than just one. This is called the bilateral factor. If the same joint or limb on both sides of the body has a service-related injury, they may receive a higher overall disability rating.

This is also true for arm, hand, leg, and foot injuries. If the bilateral factor applies, both ratings for each limb affected are combined, and the Veteran receives an extra 10% to their disability rating to reflect their increased difficulties or pain.

VA Disability Ratings for Arm Injuries

The VA has a separate disability ratings range and code set for arm and shoulder injuries. The below diagnostic codes and rating ranges are awarded to injured or disabled Veterans once a licensed medical professional examines them:

  • Diagnostic Code 5200: Ankylosis or scapulohumeral articulation of any major joint group. Rating of 20% to 50%
  • Diagnostic Code 5201: Limitation of motion of the arm. Rating of 20% to 30% depending on how limited the arm is
  • Diagnostic Code 5202: Other impairment of the humerus. Rating 20% to 70% depending on the extent of shoulder and arm injuries
  • Diagnostic Code 5203: Impairment of the clavicle or scapula. Rating of 10% to 20% depending on whether the injury accompanied a dislocation

Complete Arm Amputation Ratings

The VA rates loss of a limb of the arm for disability benefits as well. As with leg amputations, if the amputation is severe or complete, the Veteran receives an automatic disability rating of 100%. This includes the forequarter amputation of the humerus bone and any portion of the scapula, clavicle, and/or ribs. 

Other disability ratings for arm amputations are as follows:

  • 90% if the amputation only involves removing the humerus bone or amputation of the dominant arm above the insertion of deltoid muscle
  • 80% of the amputation involves removing the nondominant arm or removing the dominant arm below the insertion of deltoid muscle
  • 80% of the insertion was of the forearm above the insertion of the pronator teres muscle in the dominant arm or 70% in the non-dominant arm
  • 60% if the amputation was of the forearm of the nondominant arm and below the insertion of pronator teres muscle 

Acquiring VA Disability Compensation for Veteran Leg, Arm, and Knee Injuries

To acquire VA disability benefits for loss of limb, you need to file a successful and accurate VA disability claim. This involves collecting evidence showing the extent of your injuries or disabling conditions and proving that you received the injuries during your time in the military and while on active duty.

In some cases, this is easy and only requires an examination from a VA health care provider. In others, it can be difficult, particularly if the issue in question only became disabling or painful after you were discharged from the military. Knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need.

Contact Berry Law Today

If you’ve experienced leg, arm, or knee injuries – or if one of your limbs has been amputated because of your military service – you may qualify for significant VA disability benefits. 

Berry Law’s knowledgeable Veterans disability attorneys can help you acquire the compensation you deserve for your past service to America and its people. Contact us today to learn more or for assistance filing a VA disability benefits claim.


Knee Injuries | Johns Hopkins Medicine

38 CFR § 4.68 – Amputation rule. | Cornell

22) §4.26 Bilateral factor |

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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