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October 21, 2022

Top 5 Veteran Tips for a Costochondritis VA Rating Explained

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If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

If you’re a veteran struggling with costochondritis, follow these tips to help increase your chances of earning a VA rating. By keeping track of your symptoms, familiarizing yourself with the VA rating system, and gathering all relevant evidence, you can make your case for a costochondritis VA rating as strong as possible. 

1. Get an Accurate Diagnosis From Your Doctor as Soon as Possible for Costochondritis

Costochondritis can be confusing to diagnose, as it has similar symptoms to other conditions. One of the scarier conditions costochondritis can be confused with is a heart attack, as they both have similar symptoms. Costochondritis is relatively common among those experiencing chest pain. About 30% of people who go to the Emergency Room due to chest pain are experiencing costochondritis.

Costochondritis is also confused with pneumonia, bruised ribs, heart problems, and heart attack.

Getting an accurate diagnosis early on can help ensure you receive the correct treatment and access the benefits you rightfully earned.

COSTOCHONDRITIS VA RATING

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What is costochondritis?

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the costal cartilage, which is the tissue that connects the ribs to the breastbone. Usually, the condition is harmless, but it can cause pain and tenderness in the chest. Costochondritis can be painful, making breathing, coughing, or even laughing difficult. The condition is often worse at night or when you are lying down. Costochondritis is usually not life-threatening and can be treated with pain medication and rest.

Costochondritis may go away on its own after a few weeks; however, some people may have the condition for months or even years.

What causes costochondritis?

While the exact cause of costochondritis is unknown, it’s believed to be related to overuse, strain, or inflammation of the chest muscles. The condition can develop in anyone, but it’s more common in people with arthritis or other chronic inflammatory conditions. Veterans and service members are at a higher risk for developing costochondritis due to their exposure to repetitive stress injuries and other trauma.

VA RATING FOR COSTOCHONDRITIS 1

How will a doctor diagnose costochondritis?

No one test can diagnose costochondritis, but your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and symptoms. They may also order tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to rule out other conditions.

Costochondritis can significantly impact your quality of life as a veteran. Still, most people with the condition can manage their symptoms with treatment.

2. To Earn a Costochondritis VA Rating, You Must Prove Service Connection

The first step in getting a costochondritis VA rating is proving service connection. 

Service connection means that your costochondritis is related to your time in service. To qualify for benefits, you must demonstrate that your costochondritis was either caused or worsened by your military time.

There are a few different types of service connections that you may use to qualify for benefits, including:

  • Direct service connection – Your service directly caused or aggravated your costochondritis
  • Secondary service connection – Another service-connected condition caused or aggravated your costochondritis
  • Presumptive service connection – The VA presumes your condition is related to your service, even if there is no specific link

To be granted a costochondritis VA rating, you need three things:

  1. A current medical diagnosis of costochondritis
  2. An in-service event or injury that caused or aggravated your costochondritis
  3. A link (or Nexus) between your military service and your costochondritis (Your conditions must be at least as likely as not caused by your military service)

Direct Service Connection for Costochondritis

Evidence of a chest injury or chest pain, shown in your in-service medical records, can be powerful proof that your condition is service-connected. You’ll also want to prove that your costochondritis impacts your life by discussing limitations with your physician and, eventually, your Compensation & Pension examiner. You can discuss if it limits your ability to walk, run, lift items, climb stairs, or even work in a normal job that requires you to be on your feet for several hours.

Secondary Service Connection for Costochondritis

Several conditions could be caused by your service that can lead to costochondritis. These include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, or any other condition that impacts your ability to breathe and results in significant coughing.

Presumptive Service Connection for Costochondritis

In some instances, exposure to harmful environmentals, such as radiation, may be responsible for your costochondritis. If you were exposed to ionizing radiation during your service, you might be eligible for a costochondritis VA disability rating under this category. There is research that indicates costochondritis can occur after the treatment of cancers associated with radiation exposure.

CAN COSTOCHONDRITIS CAUSE SHORTNESS OF BREATH 1

3. Keep Track of Your Costochondritis Symptoms

In order to get the highest VA rating for costochondritis, you’ll need to be able to show that your condition is having a significant impact on your life. Keep track of your symptoms and how they affect your ability to work, socialize, and care for yourself. Make sure you discuss these with your doctor and are open and honest during your Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam.

Your symptoms may not be constant, but if you show they’re chronic, you’re more likely to earn a VA rating. You may experience flare-ups of pain and other symptoms occasionally. Documenting these can help make your case for a costochondritis VA rating stronger.

4. How the VA Rates Costochondritis

The VA uses a rating schedule to determine how severe your costochondritis is and what percentage disability rating you qualify for based on your current symptoms.

Costochondritis is typically rated under the same criteria the VA uses for conditions that impact muscles in the chest area under Diagnostic Group 5321 from 0% to 20%:

0% – Slight: No signs or symptoms of muscle disability. No impairment of function.

10% – Moderate: Record of consistent complaint of one or more of the signs of a muscle disability. Particularly lowered threshold of fatigue after average use, affecting the particular functions controlled by the injured muscles.

20% – Severe or Moderately Severe: Evidence of inability to keep up with work requirements. Tests of strength and endurance compared show that you’re impaired.

Even if you receive a 0% rating for costochondritis, many great benefits are available to veterans with a 0% rating.

The more evidence you can show that demonstrates your costochondritis impacts your everyday life (especially when it comes to working), the better your chances of earning a higher costochondritis VA rating.

COSTOCHONDRITIS VA DISABILITY RATING

5. How to File a VA Claim for Costochondritis

If you’re looking to earn a VA rating for costochondritis, it’s important to gather all of the necessary evidence and documentation that shows your condition is connected to your time in service. This may include medical records from in-service and any pertinent information from your doctor(s) regarding your current or past medical conditions.

If you’re ready to file a VA disability claim for costochondritis, there are a few steps you need to take:

The evidence you collect will help build your case for a successful costochondritis VA disability claim. The process is slightly different depending on how you intend to file.

Starting an application online sets your effective date if you intend to file electronically. Once you start the application online, you have one year to complete it.

If you intend to file via mail, submit an intent to file to set your effective date.

VA DISABILITY RATING FOR COSTOCHONDRITIS

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Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Founder & CEO

Brian Reese is a VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”

His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.

Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.

His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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