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August 4, 2019

Can I get service connected disability for my feet?

Last updated on March 24, 2021

Did you know that you can apply for VA claims for your feet?! The question that typically follows is “How can I get service connected disability for my feet?” There are so many unfiled claims for your feet, simply because many people don’t know about it!

When considering filing a claim with the VA, there are specific criteria each Veteran’s condition must meet. Today, we will be talking about foot claims and what you need to know. As with any VA claim, remember that it is not what you know about your condition, it is what you can prove about your disability. Learn the facts about the VA Adjudicator for Musculoskeletal System conditions and set yourself up for success. 

What does the VA say?

Let’s look at the musculoskeletal loss definition presented in CFR 38; 4.40 and 4.41: 

  • § 4.40 Disability of the Musculoskeletal System is primarily the inability, due to damage or infection in parts of the system. To perform the normal working movements of the body with normal excursion, strength, speed, coordination, and endurance. It is essential that the examination on which ratings are based adequately portray the anatomical damage, and the functional loss, concerning all these elements. The functional loss may be due to absence of part, or all, of the necessary bones, joints, and muscles, or associated structures, or to deformity, adhesions, defective innervation, or other pathology, or it may be due to pain, supported by adequate pathology and evidenced by the visible behavior of the claimant undertaking the motion. Weakness is as significant as limitation of motion, and a part which becomes painful on use must be regarded as severely disabled. A little-used part of the musculoskeletal system may be expected to show evidence of disuse. This can be through atrophy, the condition of the skin, or an absence of normal callosity.
  • § 4.41 History of injury. In considering the residuals of injury, it is essential to trace the medical-industrial history of the disabled person from the original injury. Aspects that must be considered are the nature of the injury and the attendant circumstances, and the requirements for, and the effect of, treatment over past periods, and the course of the recovery to date. The duration of the initial, and any subsequent, period of total incapacity, especially periods reflecting delayed union, inflammation, swelling, drainage, or operative intervention, should be given close attention. This consideration, or the absence of clear cut evidence of injury, may result in classifying the disability as not of traumatic origin, either reflecting congenital or developmental etiology, or the effects of the healed disease.

To put this in layman terms, the VA is saying the injury is rated based upon the ability to perform normal working movements of the body. Including normal excursion, strength, speed, coordination, and endurance. The disability is proved by showing the “history of the injury.” This is an important aspect to understand because it is crucial when filing a claim to PROVE and SHOW the disability.

Foot conditions

Now the feet! Let’s become familiar with the conditions of the feet that are ratable by the VA. I am going to present a list with definitions (this list is obtained and quoted from 38 CFR § 4.71):

Broken Bones:

The rating for this is dependent upon the use of the foot, not the healing process. It can be rated at 10%; 20%; 30% and they take into consideration the pain levels your experience, which is affecting your quality of life. 

Plantar Fasciitis

This is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia). One main cause of this condition is the type of shoe you were issued and the type of surface you were required to stand on to complete your duties. It is typically rated depending on the severity of the overall pain and use.

Here is the scale Moderate: 10%; Moderately Severe: 20%; Severe: 30%; Loss of use: 40% 

Flat foot

Also called pes planus or fallen arches; is a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse. Where the entire sole coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground.

Rating scale Moderate: 10%; Moderately Severe: 20%; Severe: 30%; Loss of use: 40% 

Claw Foot

An excessively arched foot with an unnaturally high instep. 0%-30%

Hammer Toe

When toes are permanently bent. 10% 

Metatarsalgia

A general term used to denote a painful foot condition in the metatarsal region of the foot (the area just before the toes, more commonly referred to as the ball-of-the-foot). This is a common foot disorder that can affect the bones and joints at the ball-of-the-foot. 10%

Hallux Rigidus

Otherwise known as stiff big toe is degenerative arthritis and stiffness due to bone spurs that affect the MTP joint at the base of the hallux (big toe). Davies-Colley initially described hallux flexus in 1887 as a plantarflexed posture of phalanx relative to the metatarsal head. 10%

Bilateral Weakfoot 

Occurs when moving the foot and the muscles are not as strong as they should be. This is generally combined with another rating. It cannot be rated less than 10%

Hallux Valgus

A progressive foot deformity in which the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint is affected and is often accompanied by significant functional disability and foot pain.  AKA Bunions: a painful swelling on the first joint of the big toe. 10%

Other Foot Injuries

Any other foot injuries can be rated between 10%-30%

Additionally, here is the DBQ for any foot condition!

Here at VA Claims Insider, we have independent licensed professionals that can look at the foot condition(s) that you have been diagnosed with and ensure you are not leaving any money on the table. Meaning one of these foot conditions could be causing issues with your knees, hips, back, or others.

The medical team will review your records and find the link to establish a service connection. Our Veteran Coaches also will give you a thorough review of your conditions to ensure we are going after every option. Their DBQ’s and Nexus Letters are undoubtedly crucial for a win!  

You SHOW us what you have, and we will help to PROVE it for you! Stay tuned for upcoming posts that will include more information about conditions you may be missing out on compensation for. If you do have a diagnosis and are ready to move forward with any foot conditions, use this link to join our team and get started today. Let us help you to get the VA compensation you deserve!

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About the Author

VACI

VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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