Back pain following time in service is a common problem for many Veterans. Not only can it cause severe discomfort, but it can also affect a Veteran’s ability to enjoy life and meet work responsibilities. Back pain can become so severe that it makes daily activities such as bathing or caring for oneself a challenge. When back pain becomes debilitating and limits a Veteran’s work opportunities, they may qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. Our attorney can help ensure you get the highest compensation for your physical disability of back pain and can help you navigate the complex application or appeals process.
Qualifying for VA Disability for Back Pain
To qualify for disability from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for back pain, you will need to meet specific eligibility requirements and provide evidence to support your claim. Hiring a Veteran benefits attorney can help you build a strong case and can help ensure that you get the highest VA disability rating.
To have a claim for disability benefits for back pain, a service connection must be established. This can be done by showing the VA that the back pain was caused or worsened by your time in service. Back pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as:
- Military vehicle accident
- Lifting heavy objects
- Repetitive or awkward movement
- An injury that occurred during training or combat
Back pain can often be linked to nerve damage, arthritis, osteoporosis, ligament or muscle stains, or bulging or ruptured back discs.
To provide evidence that your back pain resulted from your time in service, a doctor must show that you have a back pain diagnosis and link it to an event or injury that occurred during your time in service. In addition, a medical nexus will need to be made showing the link between the condition and the service-connected event or injury.
Back Pain Secondary Service Conditions
Back pain can also be linked to another service-related condition. It will qualify for a secondary service connection if this is the case. Secondary conditions that can result from back pain include:
- Urinary frequency or incontinence
- Mental health conditions
Back problems can also cause other conditions such as:
- Issues with the legs, feet, or hips
- Gastrointestinal problems
How the VA Rates Back Pain
To receive TDIU, the back pain must meet certain criteria and specific ratings. The VA rates back pain under 38 CFR § 4.71a - Schedule of ratings for the musculoskeletal system. Ratings are given according to your functional loss and range of motion, such as how far you can bend side to side, backward, and forward. If you experience flare-ups, this will also be factored into the rating. Ratings for back pain range from 0 percent to 100 percent and include:
- 10 percent. A rating of 10 percent is awarded if forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine is greater than 60 degrees but less than 85 degrees.
- 20 percent. A rating of 10 percent is awarded if forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine is greater than 30 degrees but less than 60 degrees.
- 30 percent. A rating of 30 percent indicates that forward flexion of the cervical spine is 15 degrees or less or that there is favorable ankylosis of the entire cervical spine.
- 40 percent. A 40 percent rating is given if there is unfavorable ankylosis of the entire cervical spine, forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine is 30 degrees or less, or favorable ankylosis of the entire thoracolumbar spine.
- 50 percent. A 50 percent rating is given if there is unfavorable ankylosis of the entire thoracolumbar spine.
- 100 percent. The highest rating is 100 percent and is awarded if there is unfavorable ankylosis of the entire spine.
If the back pain prevents the Veteran from working and they can show that they are unable to secure substantially gainful employment, they can apply for TDIU, which will pay them at the 100 percent disability rating. This is the highest rating and compensation level. For a Veteran to qualify for TDIU, the following ratings must apply:
- A minimum of 60 percent rating for one service connection.
- There are two or more service conditions rated at 40 percent or higher, and the combined rating is 70 percent or more.
Contact Our Veterans Benefits Attorney
If you are a Veteran suffering from service-connected back pain, working with an attorney can help you get the highest possible rating and compensation for your condition. To find out more, contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will work to protect your legal rights and help maximize the benefits you deserve. Don’t wait another day; call us today at 877-629-1712.