Sciatica occurs when pain radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, traveling from the lower back down through the legs. It is typically caused when the sciatic nerve is compressed due to a herniated disk or other issue. Almost half a million veterans currently receive disability compensation for sciatic nerve issues, according to the VA 2015 Annual Benefits Report.
Nerve issues, such as sciatica, are rated in three different categories based on the degree of severity of symptoms. Paralysis is the most severe category, followed by neuritis, and then neuralgia. Technically, the term “sciatica” usually refers to neuralgia of the sciatic nerve.
Each of the three categories of nerve conditions also have sub-categories for mild, moderate, or severe symptoms, creating many different possible ratings for a condition that affects a nerve.
For example, complete paralysis of the sciatic nerve, which causes all the muscles of the leg below the knee to fail to work, and causes serious difficulty in bending the knee, would result in an 80 percent disability rating. Incomplete but severe paralysis of the sciatic nerve, which can be shown by muscular atrophy, poor blood circulation, and limited functionality of the affected body part, would result in a rating of 60 percent. Incomplete paralysis can also be considered moderately severe, moderate, or mild, with ratings as low as 10 percent.
Severe neuritis exists when there is a loss of reflexes, loss of sensation, and muscle atrophy, and the affected body part has seriously limited functionality. This would entitle the Veteran to a 60 percent rating. Ratings of 40, 20, and 10 percent can also be given for moderately severe, moderate, and mild sciatic neuritis.
Tingling, numbness, and moderate to severe pain, along with interference with the affected limb’s functionality, would result in a classification of moderate neuralgia, which would receive a 20 percent rating. Mild neuralgia can cause tingling or mild pain, with only minor interference with the limb’s functionality, resulting in a 10 percent rating. There is no rating for severe neuralgia.
It can be difficult to distinguish between the various categories and degrees of severity for sciatic nerve conditions. If your claim for benefits for sciatic nerve issues was denied, or you believe you received an improperly low rating, consult with a veterans attorney to discuss your appeal rights.
If you need assistance with a disability compensation appeal, contact Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Our veterans law practitioners have over 25 years of experience working with veterans. Call us at 401-331-6300 for a no-cost case evaluation.