Although arthritis is most common among adults age 65 and older, it is not a natural part of aging. When a Veteran suffers from arthritis due to events related to their military service, they can qualify for VA disability benefits that provide cash compensation and access to medical care.
How Degenerative Arthritis Qualifies for Disability Benefits
The most common form of arthritis in Veterans is known as degenerative arthritis. This is caused by an injury or overuse of the joints.
The VA rates degenerative arthritis under Diagnostic Code 5003 and assigns either a 10% or 20% rating. To receive a 20% rating, two or more major joints or two or more groups of minor joints must have occasional incapacitating episodes. If only one joint or joint group is affected and there is evidence of painful motion, you will receive a 10% rating.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Qualifies for Disability Benefits
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the membranes lining the joints. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but the toxins in military burn pits are thought to play a role.
The VA rates rheumatoid arthritis under Diagnostic Code 5002. Veterans can receive ratings of 20%, 40%, 60%, or 100% depending on the severity of their symptoms. A rating of 100% is possible only when the condition is totally incapacitating.
TDIU Benefits When Arthritis Affects Your Ability to Work
Both degenerative arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can make it difficult to maintain paid employment, especially when a Veteran has only worked in physically demanding jobs and has other service-connected disabilities. A Veteran can qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits if they have one service-connected disability with a rating of 60% or higher or multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of 70% or higher and one that is rated 40% or higher. Alternatively, they can request extraschedular TDIU if they can provide ample evidence of impairment to get the claim approved by the director of the Compensation and Pension Service.
Request a Consultation Today
If you have been diagnosed with either degenerative or rheumatoid arthritis and are having trouble accessing the VA disability benefits you earned in service of your country, the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.