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What Back Conditions Qualify for VA Disability?

What Back Conditions Qualify for VA Disability?

After serving for years in the military, many Veterans come back and suffer from back problems. 

Wear and tear on the body can take a toll on a Veteran. Some Veterans feel they must power through the pain in the military since so much is required of them.

This should not be the case, but it sadly is. Because many Veterans do not report incidents that caused back pain or problems with their back in general, it can be challenging to gather the necessary evidence for a claim.

Certain back conditions qualify for VA benefits, but what are they? This article will explain all the details that a Veteran needs to know about back pain.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn that paratrooper injuries contribute to many back-related injuries among Veterans
  • You’ll know that there are some difficulties when making a claim for back-related conditions with the VA
  • You’ll learn that any service-connected back pain is automatically given a minimum disability rating

How Are Back Conditions Caused?

Back problems occur in numerous Veterans, but how do they occur?

Back problems can occur in Veterans in many ways. Sometimes an injury causes the back condition, while other times, wear and tear do.

Veterans are often initially unaware of their back problems. Some can be unaware until they are discharged from the military.

Sometimes, back pain does not arise in Veterans until long after an injury or in-service stressor occurs. Because of this, it can be difficult for a Veteran to show a link to service. 

A link to service is critical to getting benefits from the VA. Without this link, Veterans should not expect to get benefits from the VA. However, if a Veteran can show a link between their current back injury and an injury in service, they will likely qualify for service connection, which entitles them to compensation in the form of disability benefits. 

Paratrooper Injuries

Paratrooper injuries are one cause of back injuries that frequently occurs in the military. Paratroopers have to go through rigorous training to perform the duties required of them.

Along with that, their tasks can cause problems for their health. There is a risk of wrong missteps and landings when jumping from great heights.

These paratrooper jumps affect many parts of the body, including the leg, ankle, knee, neck, or back. The jumps can strain or compress their backs in ways that lead to lifelong disability.

If you are a Veteran and suffered from a paratrooper injury, you may be eligible for benefits from the VA. Military personnel will usually record these injuries because they happen in the presence of other service members.

This can make it much easier for Veterans to get service connected for their back injury.

What Does a Veteran Need To Qualify for Service Connection for Back Injuries?

Service connection can only be granted once the VA accepts evidence showing a current disability, an in-service injury, and a connection between the two. Service connection is usually granted once the evidence proves it is at least as likely as not that a disability or illness was caused by something that happened during the Veteran’s time in the service.

A Veteran has to be honorably discharged from the service to make a claim. If they were dishonorably discharged, they can not make a claim through the VA and receive benefits.

Also, the in-service event or injury cannot result from foul play or the Veteran’s own fault. If the evidence shows that the Veteran caused the event by their own doing and fault, then the VA will not grant service connection.

The VA requires the Veteran to prove three things to receive a service connection:

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

If any of these components are missing from a Veteran’s claim, the VA will not approve the claim.

When a Veteran seeks a medical connection from their doctor, they should make sure that the doctor uses clear and precise language when they write out their report.

If the language is unclear, it could result in a denial or a low disability rating for the Veteran.

How Does the VA Rate Back Conditions?

Back conditions are some of the most complicated claims that a Veteran can make. This is because of the unique rating system of the VA when it comes to back conditions.

Any Veteran who is granted service connection for back pain alone will likely receive the minimum rating of 10%. This disability rating is usually not enough for Veterans that suffer from back problems. However, to get a higher rating and more benefits, the Veteran will have to have their range of motion tested. This means that even Veterans with excruciating back pain cannot get a higher rating for back conditions.

To get an increase for a disability rating, the Veteran will have to go to an examination that tests their range of motion.

If the doctor finds that the Veteran has a limited range of motion during an exam, they may be able to use that evidence to receive a higher disability rating. They will still need to ensure that the evidence they receive from their doctor proves this. Otherwise, they may not get the rating they want.

Increasing a disability rating for back conditions can be highly frustrating to a Veteran. For best results, Veterans should work with attorneys experienced with the VA, such as Berry Law. Our experience with the VA can help Veterans ensure that they will get the benefits they are entitled to.

Receiving Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability

Since receiving benefits for back conditions can be extremely difficult with the VA, sometimes Veterans look for other ways to get better benefits than a higher disability rating.

This is where Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) comes into play.

A Veteran may have a good range of motion with their back, yet the pain is so severe it keeps them from living their everyday lives. When a Veteran cannot hold substantially gainful employment, they can try to get TDIU through the VA. This is possible even if the VA gives the Veteran a disability rating of less than 100%.

There are some qualifications if a Veteran can receive TDIU.

For one, in their claim, they must prove that they cannot maintain substantially gainful employment because of their disability. This means that the VA will analyze whether the Veteran can work or whether they make enough for it to be considered gainful employment, even if they do work.

The Veteran must show that they have one disability with a disability rating of 60% or more or that they have multiple disabilities, one with a disability rating of at least 40%, with a combined rating of 70% or more.

If the Veteran does not meet the minimum requirements for the disability ratings, they may still be able to receive TDIU under certain circumstances.

To ensure that Veterans have everything they may need in a claim to receive TDIU, Veterans should work with a Veteran’s law attorney to have everything they may need. Sometimes, even missing one piece of important information can result in a denial by the VA.

Conclusion

Back conditions can make for some of the most frustrating cases amongst VA claims. This leads many Veterans to be discouraged since they may not be receiving the benefits they deserve.

However, with the right evidence and a team of attorneys, a Veteran can get their claim approved. 

This usually will result in either testing the range of motion that a Veteran has or TDIU. TDIU is a great option for Veterans who may not have the requirements for a 100% disability rating but still need more benefits.

For more information on VA law and Veterans’ benefits, visit our website.

Sources:

VA Disability Ratings for Back Pain Explained (The Definitive Guide) | VA Claims Insider

Spine Examination | VA

Back Pain and Spine Disorders in US Veterans | 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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