VA Disability Rating for Plantar Fasciitis

VA Disability Rating for Plantar Fasciitis

Veterans are susceptible to various injuries in the military, including plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a common heel condition Veterans may experience for many reasons, including carrying too much equipment or walking too long.

If you or a loved one served in the military and developed plantar fasciitis, you could be eligible for VA disability benefits depending on your symptoms. Read on for more information on how Veterans law attorneys can assist at every step of the process.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a type of heel pain characterized by plantar fascia inflammation. 

The plantar fascia is a tough and fibrous tissue band extending across your feet’ soles. The plantar fascia is attached to your heel bone and the base of your toes to facilitate walking and foot motion mechanics. Think of it as a band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot.

However, the plantar fascia is not invulnerable. You put a lot of tension or stress on the plantar fascia when you put weight on your foot when standing, walking, or carrying a lot of equipment. If the plantar fascia is overused or experiences too much stress quickly, it can lose its elasticity and resilience, becoming irritated, inflamed, or swollen.

Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Minor to severe pain, which can begin sharply or increase gradually. This pain is normally felt near the heel. Most plantar fasciitis pain is felt after periods of inactivity, like when you get up after sleeping. For this reason, it is sometimes called “first-step” pain
  • Difficulty walking in bare feet or while wearing shoes with minimal support
  • Inability to move your feet or heel
  • Leg or knee pain as a secondary side effect. With plantar fasciitis, your walking pattern changes, which can put additional strain on your legs or knees

What Are Common Causes of Plantar Fasciitis in Veterans?

The inflammation and pain common to plantar fasciitis can be caused by various potential issues, such as running too much or increasing your activity level beyond your body’s norm. Furthermore, some Veterans may simply have irregularly-shaped feet, which makes them more susceptible to plantar fasciitis.

You can also develop plantar fasciitis if you are regularly required to carry heavy equipment, which can strain the plantar fascia and damage your tissues.

If your shoes are uncomfortable or not sized properly for your feet – for instance, if you are required to wear boots that don’t provide adequate support – you may also develop plantar fasciitis over time. 

Ultimately, many of the duties or physical requirements involved with being in the military could lead to plantar fasciitis in Veterans.

Does the VA Compensate Veterans for Plantar Fasciitis?

If you establish a service connection between your time in the military and your plantar fasciitis, you could qualify for disability benefits, including monthly compensation and medical assistance.

A direct service connection means that your time in the military directly led to your developing plantar fasciitis or it exacerbated your pre-existing symptoms. For example, this could occur if you were required to walk or run beyond what was recommended, so you eventually started to feel heel pain.

The VA may compensate you for your plantar fasciitis through a secondary service connection. If the condition develops from a second, already service-connected condition, you may receive a smaller amount of benefits. 

For instance, if you developed pes planus or flat feet because of your time in the military, then feel the effects of plantar fasciitis, you could claim that your plantar fasciitis only developed because of your military activities.

In either situation, it’s a good idea to contact Veterans law attorneys to both help you file an initial claim and file an appeal for increased benefits if you are seeking a secondary service connection. Veterans law attorneys can maximize the disability benefits you may eventually receive.

What Are the VA Disability Ratings for Plantar Fasciitis?

The VA rates plantar fasciitis according to Diagnostic Code 5285. Under this Diagnostic Code, Veterans will receive higher ratings if the condition affects both feet and is not responsive to any treatment.

Depending on your symptoms, their severity, and whether or not both feet are affected by plantar fasciitis, you may receive one of the following disability ratings:

  • 10% rating if you have plantar fasciitis in one or both feet and it is responsive to treatment
  • 20% rating if you have plantar fasciitis affecting one foot and it is not responsive to treatment. “Not responsive to treatment” means that you don’t get relief from surgical or nonsurgical treatment
  • 30% rating if you have plantar fasciitis affecting both feet and it is not responsive to treatment
  • 40% rating if you have plantar fasciitis that results in the loss of a foot. This receives a special diagnostic code: 5167

Can You Get TDIU for Your Plantar Fasciitis?

Some Veterans may experience such severe plantar fasciitis that they cannot work or maintain substantially gainful employment. This is often correlated with an inability to move or walk around, severely limiting their physical abilities and placing the Veterans at a greater risk for obesity.

Total disability individual unemployability (TDIU) is awarded to Veterans who do not have a 100% disabled rating on paper but are still unable to work. If you have TDIU status, you will receive benefits as if you had a 100% disability rating, regardless of your actual rating.

However, you will only receive TDIU status and the relevant benefits if you can prove that your plantar fasciitis:

  • Prevents you from working and is not responsive to treatment, as broken down above
  • Affects both feet to a significant extent
  • Causes daily and chronic pain such that your physical abilities are drastically limited

You may receive TDIU for your plantar fasciitis after receiving an initial disability rating if your symptoms worsen. You’ll need to file an appeal with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans law attorneys can help you gather the evidence you need to ensure your claim goes smoothly.

How Do You File a Claim for Plantar Fasciitis Benefits?

Should you wish to file a claim for disability benefits due to your service-connected plantar fasciitis, you’ll start by filing Form 21-526. This form will require you to explain your condition and prove a service connection by attaching your service records and supplementary evidence.

Helpful evidence includes:

  • Lay statements from yourself, family members, and fellow service people. Lay statements can substantiate your claim by corroborating the incident that led to your plantar fasciitis or corroborating your claim that your plantar fasciitis symptoms only began after your time in the military
  • Medical documentation and notes from your primary health care provider, including your official diagnosis of plantar fasciitis or related symptoms
  • A nexus letter from your primary care physician or another medical professional. The nexus letter is vital in attaining a service connection, as it includes the medical practitioner’s opinion that your symptoms could only have been caused or exacerbated by military service

When gathering this evidence, it’s important to remember that the VA may believe your plantar fasciitis began after your military service if enough time has passed since you were discharged. Therefore, if you start developing plantar fasciitis symptoms in the military, keep accurate records the entire time.

Then, as your symptoms worsen or develop, continue to keep records and visit a health care practitioner immediately. The sooner you can get a diagnosis, the more likely the VA will approve this service connection between your military service and your current health difficulties.

Contact Berry Law

Depending on your symptoms and their severity, you could receive a disability rating of 40% or more for your plantar fasciitis. But you’ll only maximize your chances of securing enough financial benefits to pay for medical bills and introduce job possibilities with the right legal experts on your side.

Berry Law’s experienced Veterans law attorneys know what to include in your claim, how to file your claim, and how to gather the appropriate evidence to strengthen your claim from start to finish. Whether you’re filing for benefits for the first time or looking to appeal a denied claim for benefits, we can help. Contact us today to learn more.


Plantar fasciitis | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia 

Federal Register :: Schedule for Rating Disabilities: Musculoskeletal System and Muscle Injuries; Correction | Federal Register 

Plantar Fasciitis – StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf 

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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