Those in the military often are required to spend hours on their feet on terrain that is challenging. This can lead to foot conditions such as flat feet and plantar fasciitis. Both of these foot conditions can cause severe pain and physical disability. If you are a Veteran suffering from flat feet or plantar fasciitis, consult with an attorney to determine if you are eligible to receive disability benefits. Keep reading to find out what you need to do to prove your disability is service-connected and how each condition is rated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Understanding Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis
Pes Planus, also known as flat feet or fallen arches, is a condition where the foot arch is very low or not present. The entire bottom of the foot is touching the ground. This type of foot deformity can cause a variety of symptoms such as pain when walking or standing, feet that turn outward, fallen arch, or pain in the hips or lower back. Standing for long periods of time or doing rigorous physical activities such as running can worsen symptoms of flat feet. Both of these activities can occur during service and aggravate the condition if it already existed.
Plantar fasciitis is another type of foot injury caused by overuse. It happens when the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects the heels to the toes, becomes inflamed. It can result in pain in the heel of the foot that worsens after rest or waking up in the morning. It can also worsen after high-impact activities such as running, military training, or standing for long periods of time. Those with flat feet are at an increased risk for plantar fasciitis.
If you have either condition and plan to file a claim for disability benefits, you will need a diagnosis by a podiatrist. A physical exam and imaging tests may be ordered to diagnose flat feet or plantar fasciitis.
How the VA Rates Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis
The VA rates flat foot under the Schedule of Ratings for Musculoskeletal System under 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a, diagnostic code 5276. There is no specific rating for plantar fasciitis, and since it can be linked to flat feet, it is rated under the diagnostic code for acquired flat foot.
VA Ratings for Flat Feet
Flat foot is rated by the VA from 0 to 50 percent, based on the severity of your condition and whether the flat foot is mild or pronounced. The ratings are as follows:
- 50 percent. Flat foot is pronounced and present in both feet.
- 30 percent. Flat foot is pronounced but only affects one foot.
- 0 percent. Flat foot is considered mild and can be managed through non-invasive treatments such as wearing orthotics inside your shoes.
VA Ratings for Plantar Fasciitis
The ratings for plantar fasciitis were changed by the VA effective February 7, 2021, making the highest rating for the injury 40 percent. The schedule of ratings for the injury are:
- 30 percent. Plantar fasciitis affects both feet, and there is no relief from the injury by using surgical or nonsurgical treatments.
- 20 percent. Plantar fasciitis affects only one foot, and there is no relief from the injury by using surgical or nonsurgical treatments.
- 10 percent. Plantar fasciitis can affect either one or both feet and is classified as otherwise.
Special disability ratings are also given for the condition. Those who have plantar fasciitis and have lost the quality of use of the foot can receive a rating of 40 percent. For those who were referred for surgery but are not a candidate for the procedure, a rating of either 20 or 30 percent can be awarded depending if both or only one foot is affected.
Proving Your Disability Is Service Related
Since both flat feet and plantar fasciitis cause debilitating pain not only in the feet but in other areas of the body such as the lower back, knees, and hips, filing a claim for VA disability benefits can help get you the compensation you deserve.
To have a valid claim, you must be able to prove that your foot condition or injury was the result of activities that occurred during your time in service. You will need the following as proof for your claim:
- Diagnosis by a medical professional such as a podiatrist
- Record of the in-service event that led to your condition
- Medial nexus showing a link between the in-service event and your condition
Contact a Veterans Benefits Attorney
If you are a Veteran with flat feet or plantar fasciitis and need help applying for benefits or appealing a denied claim, 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. Call us today at 877-629-1712 or use our online contact form to find out more.