The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) offers monthly tax-free disability compensation to Veterans with service-connected disabilities. These disabilities can range in severity from mild to extremely serious. Depending on how severe your service-connected condition is, you can receive a specified amount of tax-free compensation per month. The amount you receive depends on how debilitating your condition is. In some cases, Veterans who suffer from severe service-related disabilities are left unable to work or function normally in everyday life.
For these Veterans, disability benefits can be life-changing. Without work, monthly compensation from the VA can be a Veteran’s sole means of supporting their family. VA disability benefits can keep a Veteran financially stable while they deal with their service connected disability.
Most Veterans are aware of the fact that they can receive disability compensation for any injuries or disabilities that are related to service. Service-related disabilities can be either mental or physical for a Veteran to qualify for benefits. The main criteria for getting approved for disability compensation is establishing a connection between your disability and your military service. If you can prove to the VA that your disability is service-connected, you should qualify for disability benefits.
Veterans sometimes fail to recognize which disabilities or injuries can be caused by military service. One of the most overlooked disabilities for Veterans applying for disability benefits is pes planus, otherwise known as flat feet. This condition may go unnoticed by many Veterans because it is extremely common. More than three million people each year are diagnosed with flat feet, and the condition is prevalent in the Veteran population. For Veterans, disability benefits can be granted for flat feet if the condition can be connected to military service.
Because the VA only grants disability benefits to Veterans who can confirm that their disabilities are service-related, establishing a service connection is essential for any condition. Flat feet can be one of the more difficult conditions to establish a service connection for, but finding and proving the link between your military service and your case of pes planus is far from impossible.
Pes planus is a disability characterized by the arches of your feet flattening. While the disability can be serious, inhibiting your range of motion and ability to walk, it is typically painless. According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, pes planus occurs when “the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened, allowing the entire soles of your feet to touch the floor when you stand up.” The condition is often the result of physical stress associated with age, but flat feet can also sometimes develop when your arches don’t fully develop during childhood. For Veterans, the condition can often be linked to the high-impact physical activity they go through while in the military.
There are typically no signs or symptoms associated with flat feet. However, you may experience foot pain in the heel area or swelling the inside of the ankle if you suffer from pes planus. In this case, your pes planus is more severe than the average case of the condition. Although more severe pes planus is less common than milder cases, it can still affect many Veterans.
Some Veterans may suffer from pes planus that stems from their military service. However, if the condition causes another disability, the Veteran can receive disability benefits for the other condition on a secondary basis. This is known as secondary service connection.
If you are diagnosed with flat feet, your doctor may be able to trace your development back to an injury that you sustained while you were serving in the military. Examples of conditions that may arise as a result of flat feet include:
Secondary conditions can influence your overall disability rating, and they can be extremely helpful in getting you the benefits that you deserve from the VA. It’s always essential to inform the VA of any secondary conditions you may have in addition to your primary disability.
The VA diagnostic code (a 4 or 8 digit code the VA uses to rate your disability) for flat feet is 5726. The VA determines a pes planus rating depending on the severity of the injury. Currently, Veterans can receive a rating between 0 and 50 percent for pes planus. A rating below 10 percent means a Veteran is not severely disabled enough to qualify for benefits.
The highest disability rating that a Veteran can receive is 100 percent, but this rating cannot be given to a Veteran dealing exclusively with flat feet. However, since many Veterans who have pes planus suffer from the condition in addition to another service-connected disability, a higher rating can be granted in many cases.
For a Veteran to receive a 50% rating for flat feet, their feet must be pronounced, meaning the feet are displaced inward. If only one foot is pronounced, the Veteran can receive a 30% rating. If a Veteran suffers from a particularly painful case of pes planus, they are more likely to receive a higher disability rating from the VA.
Veterans can also receive a VA disability rating for pes planus if they have a clear deformity of the foot. If one of your feet was also injured in combat, you may be able to receive a higher disability rating than you would be granted for pes planus alone.
Veterans can also receive a 0% rating for flat feet if their symptoms are mild enough. For a Veteran to receive a 0% pes planus VA rating, their condition is likely remedied by arch supports. With a 0% rating, you will not be able to receive monthly benefits from the VA. However, this rating does indicate that your condition most likely will not inhibit you from finding work and financially supporting yourself and your family.
For a Veteran to get pes planus service-connected, just like any other VA disability, they must prove three things to the VA.
If a Veteran can substantiate all three of these aspects on their claim, they should receive VA disability for flat feet. Getting approved for disability benefits from the VA means finding a provable connection between your disability and your military service, as well as proving that your condition is significantly disabling. Once the VA has all the proof they need to substantiate your claim, you can start receiving tax-free benefits each month.
If you developed pes planus (flat feet) while in service or if the condition was exacerbated by your time in the military, you’re entitled to VA disability compensation. If you were denied VA disability for flat feet, you have the right to appeal. Appealing a VA decision with the help of a skilled, dedicated attorney can help you get a better outcome for your claim. If the VA denied you benefits for pes planus, don’t give up on getting the compensation you deserve. An appeal can change the outcome of your claim if you can present a strong enough case to the VA that they should change their decision.
Berry Law helps Veterans get the VA disability benefits they deserve by appealing unfavorable VA rating decisions. With attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, Berry Law is well-equipped to provide fellow Veterans with the legal firepower they need to win their VA disability appeals. Contact Berry Law today to receive a free case evaluation.
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