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VA Disability for Scars and Disfigurement

Disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are available to Veterans who have sustained scars and disfigurement during service. These are common injuries incurred during military service, whether from combat wounds, accidents, burns, or other traumatic events. These visible reminders of service not only affect physical appearance and function but can also have profound emotional and psychological impacts. They serve as constant reminders of the sacrifices made in the line of duty impacting self-esteem, confidence, and overall quality of life.

At Berry Law, we help Veterans navigate the process of claiming VA disability benefits to receive the support and compensation they deserve. Let’s begin the journey toward securing benefits. Our firm represents Veterans of every branch of the U.S. armed forces, including the National Guard and the Reserves, who have permanent scars from service-connected injuries. Our practice in Veterans disability law includes representation through the claims and appeals process for VA disability benefits.

VA Rating for Scars and Disfigurement

Burns, explosions, chloracne caused by exposure to Agent Orange, and other injuries can leave disfiguring scars. These injuries can destroy self-confidence and impair the ability to manage work and daily tasks. When a service member is discharged from the military, he or she can seek a disability rating both for functional impairments and for permanent scars.

The VA rating system for disabilities is a method used by the VA to assess and assign disability ratings to Veterans based on the severity of their service-connected disabilities or injuries. The purpose of the VA rating system is to determine the level of compensation and benefits Veterans are entitled to receive for disabilities.

Burn injuries are rated under §4.118  Schedule of ratings—skin.

Criteria for Evaluation of Burn Injuries and Disfigurement

The VA evaluates burn injuries and disfigurement for disability benefits based on several criteria, including the severity and extent of the injury and its impact on the Veteran’s ability to function. Here are the key factors the VA considers:

Extent of Burns: The VA assesses the size and depth of the burns, including whether they are partial thickness (superficial) or full thickness (deep). Burns covering larger areas of the body or involving critical areas such as the face, hands, or feet are typically rated more severely.

Functional Impairment: The VA considers how burn injuries affect Veterans’ ability to perform daily activities, including tasks related to work, self-care, and mobility. Severe burns may result in loss of mobility, dexterity, or sensory function, which can significantly impact Veterans’ quality of life.

Scarring and Disfigurement: Scarring and disfigurement resulting from burn injuries are evaluated based on their size, location, and visibility. The VA considers whether the scarring is extensive, permanent, and aesthetically disfiguring, particularly if it affects areas such as the face, neck, or hands.

Functional Limitations: Burn injuries may cause functional limitations such as restricted range of motion, chronic pain, or sensory impairments. These limitations are taken into account when determining the level of disability and compensation owed to the Veteran.

Medical Treatment and Prognosis: The VA considers Veterans’ medical history, including the severity of the burn injury, treatments received, and prognosis for recovery. Chronic pain, complications, and long-term effects of burn injuries are also factored into the evaluation.

Impact on Mental Health: Burn injuries and resulting disfigurement can have significant psychological and emotional effects, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The VA evaluates the impact of these mental health conditions on Veterans’ overall well-being and may provide additional support and treatment as needed.

Overall, the VA assesses burn injuries and disfigurement comprehensively, taking into account both the physical and psychological effects on the Veteran’s life.

Other Types of Scars

Other types of scars are also eligible for ratings. Scars from cuts or as the result of surgery for a service-connected condition may be rated based on whether the scars are painful or unstable. A painful scar is exactly what it sounds like: a scar that aches or is painful to the touch. An unstable scar is a scar which has the skin frequently flake off and re-heal, meaning it never stabilizes. The VA will look at all of your scars and provide a rating based on how many you have that are painful or unstable. They do not have to be related to each other. 

One or two scars that are unstable or painful provides a 10 percent evaluation.

Two or three scars that are unstable or painful provides a 20 percent evaluation.

Five or more scars that are painful or unstable provides a 30 percent evaluation. 

Understanding the VA Rating System and Appealing Veterans’ Scores

Misunderstanding the rating system for scars and disfigurement can cost Veterans compensation. For example, if a service-connected injury requiring surgery is re-rated, the Veteran can also request a re-rating of the resulting scar.

There are other common misunderstandings about re-evaluating a burn injury or disfigurement to increase compensation from VA disability benefits.

One common misconception is that simply undergoing a re-evaluation will automatically result in a higher disability rating and increased compensation. In reality, the VA considers various factors, including medical evidence, functional impairment, and changes in Veterans’ condition, before adjusting disability ratings.

Some Veterans may expect immediate increases in compensation following a re-evaluation, but the process can take time. The VA carefully reviews medical records, conducts examinations, and considers all relevant information before making a decision. It’s important to be patient and cooperate with the VA throughout the process.

Another misunderstanding is overlooking the significance of medical evidence and documentation when seeking a higher disability rating. Providing detailed medical records, reports from healthcare providers, and other supporting evidence can strengthen Veterans’ cases for increased compensation.

Veterans may mistakenly believe that they only have a limited number of opportunities to request re-evaluations of their disability ratings. In reality, Veterans can request re-evaluations if there is evidence of worsening or improvement in their condition, or if they believe their disability rating does not accurately reflect their level of impairment.

A VA Disability Benefits Lawyer Can Help With Appeals

Some Veterans may not realize that they can seek assistance from legal representatives to navigate the process of re-evaluating their disability ratings. An experienced VA disability benefits attorney can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the appeals and re-evaluation process.

A lawyer who regularly handles disability benefits claims and appeals will also be familiar with changing laws and regulations that may affect their claim. For example, even if their scar has not worsened since their last review, they may be entitled to a higher disability rating under new diagnostic codes.

Veterans need to have realistic expectations, gather relevant evidence, and seek assistance from knowledgeable advocates when pursuing re-evaluations of their burn injury or disfigurement for VA disability benefits. Understanding the process and effectively presenting their cases can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

About VA Disability Ratings

The VA rates disabilities on a scale from 0% to 100%, in increments of 10%. A 0% rating indicates a service-connected disability that does not significantly impair the Veteran’s ability to function, while a 100% rating signifies total disability.

Disability ratings are assigned based on the extent to which a disability affects a Veteran’s ability to perform daily activities, work, and engage in social interactions. The amount of compensation received is determined by their disability rating. Higher ratings result in higher monthly payments.

In addition to compensation, Veterans with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, housing assistance, and other benefits through the VA healthcare system.

Overall, the VA rating system is designed to recognize and address the physical, emotional, and financial challenges faced by Veterans due to their service-connected disabilities.

Contact Our VA Disability Compensation Law Firm

To speak with a member of our team, please call (888) 883-2483 today or contact us online. Our consultations are free. We represent Veterans at VA regional offices throughout the United States and before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (USCAVC). Our legal team is available 24/7.

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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