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Living with knee pain can significantly impact a veteran’s quality of life, particularly if the pain stems from service-related injuries. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes the debilitating effects of knee conditions and offers disability ratings to provide compensation for affected veterans. These ratings, ranging from 0% to 60%, aim to reflect the severity of the condition and its impact on mobility and daily functioning. In this blog, we’ll delve into the intricacies of VA disability ratings for knee pain, exploring the various types of knee conditions and their corresponding ratings.

VA Service Connected Disability

In order to establish service connection for knee conditions, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  1. Medical evidence which verifies the existence of a current disability related to knee pain.
  2. Evidence that indicates the onset or worsening of knee pain during active military service.
  3. Medical evidence that establishes a clear connection between the current knee pain disability and the injury or condition that occurred during military service.
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How Ratings Are Determined

VA disability ratings for knee conditions are determined through a comprehensive evaluation of medical evidence, including clinical examinations and imaging studies. The VA considers factors such as range of motion, pain severity, instability, and functional limitations when assigning ratings. Veterans may undergo Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations to assess the current status of their knee condition and determine appropriate ratings.

Types of Knee Conditions and VA Ratings Applied

Knee pain can arise from a variety of sources, including limited flexion or extension of the knee, instability, ankylosis, arthritis, meniscus injuries, total knee replacements, and partial knee replacements. Each type of knee condition is evaluated based on specific criteria outlined by the VA, with disability ratings assigned accordingly.

1. Limitation of Flexion of the Knee

This common knee condition refers to restricted movement or bending of the knee towards the body. VA rates this condition based on the range of motion during flexion, with ratings ranging from 0% to 30%. The VA assigns a:

  • 30% rating for knee flexion limited to 15 degrees
  • 20% rating for knee flexion limited to 30 degrees
  • 10% rating for knee flexion limited to 45 degrees
  • 0% rating for knee flexion limited to 60 degrees

The VA takes into consideration the presence of pain and functional loss when evaluating the limitation of flexion of the knee. The most common rating the VA assigns for limitation of flexion of the knee is 10 percent.

2. Limitation of Extension of the Knee

Limitation of knee extension occurs when the knee cannot fully straighten. Disability ratings for this condition range from 0% to 50%, depending on the degree of extension limitation. For example:

  • 50% rating for knee extension limited to 45 degrees
  • 40% rating for knee extension limited to 30 degrees
  • 30% rating for knee extension limited to 20 degrees
  • 20% rating for knee extension limited to 15 degrees
  • 10% rating for knee extension limited to 10 degrees
  • 0% rating for knee extension limited to 5 degrees

Again, just like with limitation of flexion, the VA takes into consideration the presence of pain and functional loss when evaluating the limitation of extension of the knee.

3. Instability of the Knee

Knee instability, characterized by excessive motion or recurrent dislocation, can result from ligament damage or cartilage issues. VA assigns disability ratings of 10%, 20%, or 30% based on the severity of the recurrent or patellar instability. To qualify for a 30% rating, the knee must demonstrate significant instability, which requires use of an assistive device for mobility prescribed by a doctor.

4. Ankylosis of the Knee

Ankylosis refers to abnormal stiffening and immobility of the knee joint. VA offers disability ratings of 30%, 40%, 50%, or 60% based on the degree of flexion limitation. For instance:

  • 60% rating for extremely unfavorable, flexion at an angle of 45 degrees or more
  • 50% rating for flexion between 20 and 45 degrees
  • 40% rating for flexion between 10 and 20 degrees
  • 30% rating for favorable angle in full extension or slight flexion between 0 and 10 degrees

5. Meniscus Injuries

Meniscus injuries are prevalent among veterans, often resulting from repetitive stress or injury from job related duties. The meniscus, a crucial structure that cushions the knee joint, is susceptible to tearing, leading to pain and functional impairment. Symptoms of a meniscus injury include recurring knee pain, swelling, stiffness, and sensations of locking or catching within the joint.

For veterans experiencing persistent knee symptoms due to a meniscus injury, seeking VA disability benefits may be warranted. The VA recognizes the impact of meniscus injuries on veterans’ daily lives and offers disability ratings to provide compensation and support. Veterans with symptoms such as recurring knee pain, locking, and evidence of fluid accumulation in the knee joint may qualify for a 20 percent disability rating.

6. Total Knee Replacements

Following total knee replacement surgery, veterans receive a temporary 100% disability rating for the first four months. Afterward, a new rating is determined based on the severity of residual symptoms, such as pain and weakness. Ratings range from 30% to 60%, depending on the extent of impairment.

7. Partial Knee Replacements

Unlike total knee replacements, partial knee replacements are not assigned their own diagnostic code. Instead, ratings are based on symptoms resulting from the replacement, such as limitation of motion.

8. TDIU for Knee Pain

Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits are provided by the VA to veterans who, despite not having a combined VA disability rating of 100 percent, are unable to work due to a service-connected disability. These benefits supplement the monthly payments received by eligible veterans. To be eligible, veterans must demonstrate their inability to secure or sustain employment directly attributable to their disability.

To qualify for TDIU benefits related to knee pain, veterans must have an overall disability rating of 60 percent or higher and furnish evidence which substantiates their unemployability is due to the disability.

MULTIPLE DISABILITY RATINGS FOR THE KNEE

The VA Rating Schedule permits Veterans to receive more than one disability rating for knee conditions. The VA can assign a separate rating for a Veterans limitation of flexion, limitation of extension, and knee instability.

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How Chad Barr Law Can Help

Chad Barr Law, as veterans’ disability attorneys, offers valuable assistance to veterans navigating the complex process of seeking disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Here’s how we can help.

  1. Knowledge and Experience in VA Disability Law: Chad Barr Law specializes in VA disability law, meaning we have in-depth knowledge of the laws, regulations, and procedures governing veterans’ disability claims. We understand the intricacies of the VA system and how to navigate it effectively on behalf of our clients.
  2. Free Evaluation of Eligibility: Veterans disability attorneys at Chad Barr Law meet with Veterans to discuss their eligibility for benefits based on their service record, personnel records and medical conditions.
  3. Maximizing Disability Benefits: Veterans’ disability attorneys at Chad Barr Law work diligently to maximize the disability benefits their clients receive. They carefully review veterans’ medical records, service history, and other relevant documentation to determine the best way to appeal previously denied claims and ensure Veterans have the proper rating for each service connected condition.
  4. Appeal Rating Decisions: Veterans disability attorneys at Chad Barr Law explore all possible avenues for obtaining additional evidence to reopen previously denied conditions and ensure that veterans receive the highest possible rating for their service-connected disabilities. Our Attorneys ensure Veterans meet all deadlines, use proper appeal forms, prepare written arguments, and advocate on behalf of veterans during hearings and appeals to secure the benefits they deserve.
  5. Personalized Legal Representation: Chad Barr Law provides personalized legal representation tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of each veteran client. We offer compassionate support, guidance, and advocacy throughout the entire claims process, from initial application to final resolution.
  6. Chad Barr Law offers comprehensive legal assistance to veterans seeking disability benefits, guiding them through every step of the claims process and advocating fiercely for their rights and entitlements.

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