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Arthritis and Your VA Disability Claim

Arthritis and Your VA Disability Claim

Arthritis is usually classified as degenerative arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Degenerative arthritis occurs due to “wear and tear”, resulting in damage to the cartilage and tissues surrounding a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the lining of the membranes surrounding your joints. Both conditions can be painful and may range from mild to severely disabling.

According to the VA 2015 Annual Benefits Report, over 395,000 veterans currently receive VA disability benefits for degenerative arthritis of the spine. Injury and joint overuse, both common among veterans, can contribute to degenerative arthritis.  

It is important to note that both degenerative arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis  may be eligible for presumptive service-connection if symptoms appear within one year of discharge from military service. A veteran only needs to show that the condition is at least 10 percent disabling, and that symptoms began within one year of discharge.

Being aware of this short window of eligibility for presumptive service connection is important. A veteran may feel that minor arthritis is not serious enough to claim disability benefits for. However, arthritis often becomes worse with age, and what starts as a minor disability may end up becoming a more serious condition in the future.  can cause to encounter.It will be easier to file a claim for an increased rating if the condition worsens, as opposed to claiming service connection later and then having to prove when the arthritis actually manifested. 

Degenerative arthritis is typically rated at 10 or 20 percent, based on the number of joints affected and the level of incapacitation. A joint condition can only be rated for arthritis if no rating can be given based on limitations with range of motion. 

Rheumatoid arthritis can be evaluated at up to 100 percent if it results in complete incapacitation. Lower ratings can be given for occasional incapacitating episodes. As with degenerative arthritis, a rating for limited range of motion cannot be given in addition to a rating for rheumatoid arthritis.

For help with your appeal, talk to the veterans law practitioners at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our veterans lawyers have helped thousands of veterans with their VA appeals, and we can help you, too. Contact us for a no-cost consultation.


Category: Veterans Law

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