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May 27, 2020

How to Increase Your VA Rating for Plantar Fasciitis: The Expert’s Guide (5 *NEW* Tips for 2021)

Last updated on July 28, 2021

In this post, we will be exploring how to increase your VA Rating for Plantar Fasciitis.

*NEW* Effective February 7, 2021, Plantar Fasciitis has its own Diagnostic Code (DC) 5269 with ratings that range from 10% to 30% with a break at 20%.

The highest possible scheduler VA disability rating for bilateral Plantar Fasciitis is now 30% (not 50%), which includes symptoms such as no relief from both non-surgical (orthopedic shoes or appliances) and surgical treatment.

However, if the veteran has actual loss of use of the foot, the rating is 40%.

A veterans final VA disability rating for Plantar Fasciitis depends upon the frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms, meaning, the more severe your symptoms, the higher the VA rating for Plantar Fasciitis.

There is also a bilateral factor—meaning veterans can get a higher VA rating for Plantar Fasciitis if they have the disability in both feet.

Okay veterans – let’s take a minute to explore the law regarding the symptoms and impairment required to warrant a VA disability rating for Plantar Fasciitis.

Many veterans suffer from various foot conditions due to their military service, to include severe heel pain, aka, Plantar Fasciitis.

Heel Spurs Can Contribute to Plantar Fasciitis in Veterans
Heel Spurs Can Contribute to Plantar Fasciitis in Veterans

At VA Claims Insider, we recommend veterans get X-Rays of both feet from the VA or private doctor to confirm or exclude the presence of heel spurs, which can contribute to the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis.

Also, both unilateral and bilateral Plantar Fasciitis are common secondary VA disability claims, especially Plantar Fasciitis secondary to lower extremity conditions such as knees, joints, hips, and back.

Plantar Fasciitis in Veterans

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain in veterans.

It involves inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (called the “Plantar Fascia”).

VA Rating for Plantar Fasciitis
Inflammation of the Plantar Fascia tissue can lead to a painful condition known as Plantar Fasciitis

Do you think you might have Plantar Fasciitis?

Here’s a quick litmus test: If it feels like a knife is being jammed into the bottom of your heel, especially during the first few steps out of bed in the morning, or shortly after a workout, chances are you might have Plantar Fasciitis.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Your plantar fascia is in the shape of a bowstring, supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing shock when you walk. If tension and stress on this bowstring become too great, small tears can occur in the fascia. Repeated stretching and tearing can irritate or inflame the fascia, causing severe heel pain.”

Common risk factors include age, long distance running (such as military PT), poor arch and heel support (e.g., military combat boots), obesity, and occupations that require a lot of standing (active duty military service, perhaps combat deployments).

VA Rating for Plantar Fasciitis – Common Symptoms in Veterans

Plantar Fasciitis VA Rating Causes and Symptoms of Heel Pain in Veterans
Plantar Fasciitis VA Rating Causes and Symptoms of Heel Pain in Veterans

Many veterans have or develop Plantar Fasciitis and common signs and symptoms include:

  • Heel pain (especially after standing, walking, or running)
  • Painful motion
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling

You may get some relief by icing, taking pain medications, wearing a brace, heal inserts in shoes, night splints, and in extreme cases, cortisone shots directly into the affected area.

WATCH: VA Disability Claims for Plantar Fasciitis (NEW Tips!)


12:45 How are VA disability claims for Plantar Fasciitis rated?

13:13 Plantar Fasciitis VA Rating in 2021

15:15 Signs and symptoms to look for in your feet

16:45 Plantar Fasciitis can be unbelievably painful, don’t downplay your symptoms

19:00 Here are the common risk factors for Plantar Fasciitis

20:55 What kind of Plantar Fasciitis treatments are available for you to do on your own?

21:30 Request a referral from your primary care or VA doctor to see a Podiatrist.

24:00 It’s important to note your foot pain may fluctuate over time

Is Plantar Fasciitis a VA Disability?

Yes, Plantar Fasciitis is a VA disability and can be rated at 10%, 20%, or 30%, depending upon unilateral (one foot) versus bilateral (both feet) and the severity of your symptoms.

With actual loss of use of the foot, rate at 40%.

If a veteran has been recommended for surgical intervention, but is not a surgical candidate, evaluate under the 20% or 30% criteria, whichever is applicable

Effective February 7, 2021, Plantar Fasciitis is rated under CFR 38, Part 4, VA Schedule of Ratings, Diagnostic Code 5269, Plantar Fasciitis.

An important requirement for VA disability rating purposes is whether your foot condition is congenital or acquired.

“Congenital” means a disease or physical abnormality that’s been present since birth whereas “Acquired” means a disease or physical abnormality that developed after birth.

Congenital Plantar Fasciitis is NOT compensable or pensionable unless you’re claiming “aggravation of a pre-service condition.”

For example, perhaps you entered the military with flat feet, but never had Plantar Fasciitis.

If your military service aggravated your flat feet (made it worse), leading to Plantar Fasciitis (severe heel pain), you can still be rated and compensated under the law.

According to CFR 38, Part 3, §3.306 Aggravation of Preservice Disability, “A preexisting injury or disease will be considered to have been aggravated by active military, naval, or air service, where there is an increase in disability during such service, unless there is a specific finding that the increase in disability is due to the natural progress of the disease.”

NEW VA Rating for Plantar Fasciitis Criteria in 2021 from 0% to 30%

Pursuant to Diagnostic Code 5296, VA disability ratings for Plantar Fasciitis (unilateral and bilateral) are as follows:

No relief from both non-surgical and surgical treatment, bilateral, rate at 30%

No relief from both non-surgical and surgical treatment, unilateral, rate at 20%

Otherwise, unilateral or bilateral, rate at 10%

Note (1): With actual loss of use of the foot, rate 40 percent

Note (2): If a veteran has been recommended for surgical intervention, but is not a surgical candidate, evaluate under the 20 percent or 30 percent criteria, whichever is applicable

CFR 38 Plantar Fasciitis VA Rating Chart – DC 5296, Plantar Fasciitis (NEW as of February 7, 2021)

DC 5296, Plantar Fasciitis VA Rating
     No relief from both non-surgical and surgical treatment, Bilateral (both feet)30%
     No relief from both non-surgical and surgical treatment, Unilateral (one foot)20%
     Otherwise, unilateral or bilateral10%
*Special Rating Categories for Plantar Fasciitis
*Note (#1): With actual loss of use of the foot 40%
*Note (#2): If a veteran has been recommended for surgical intervention, but is not a surgical candidate, evaluate under the 20 percent or 30 percent criteria, whichever is applicable20% or 30%
VA Disability Rating Criteria for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis Secondary Conditions

Plantar Fasciitis Secondary Conditions
Plantar Fasciitis Secondary Conditions

Many veterans with Plantar Fasciitis, especially those who were diagnosed long after leaving the military, might still be eligible if medical evidence shows your heel pain is proximately due to or aggravated by another service-connected disability such as knee strain, hip conditions, and/or back conditions.

Service connection on a secondary basis requires a “showing of causation.”

A showing of causation requires that the secondary disability be shown to be “proximately due to” or “proximately aggravated by” another service-connected disability.

By law, there are three evidentiary elements that must be satisfied for Plantar Fasciitis Secondary Conditions:

  1. A medical diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Pain) in VA medical records or private records (unless you already have a diagnosis in your service treatment records)
  2. Evidence of a service-connected primary disability (such as Knee Strain, Lumbar Strain or Back Pain, Hip Condition), AND
  3. Medical nexus evidence establishing a connection between the service-connected disability and the current disability (in this example, Plantar Fasciitis)

The first part can be satisfied with any existing medical evidence in service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.

The second part can be satisfied with a veteran’s existing service-connected disability rated at 0 percent or higher.

The third part can be satisfied with a credible medical nexus letter from a qualified medical professional.

For example, here is a 2008 BVA case decision where a Veteran received entitlement to service connection for a bilateral foot disorder as secondary to a service-connected left knee disability.

How to Prepare for Your C&P Exam for Plantar Fasciitis

A C&P exam for Plantar Fasciitis usually involves a physical examination and history of your foot condition and severity of symptoms over time.

The C&P examiner might order X-Rays of your feet to help determine if there is objective medical evidence, such as, calcified heel spurs.

You’ll want to explain to the C&P examiner HOW your severe heel pain is limiting or affecting your work, life, and social functioning.

For example, maybe your bilateral heel pain is so severe, that you have difficulty walking and require help during periods of flareups.

Maybe you enjoy running and working out, but you’ve had to stop or significantly alter your routines because of your Plantar Fasciitis.

It’s also important to document whether you’ve tried heel cups, inserts, or night splints, and if those devices help or not.

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About The Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Founder & CEO

Brian Reese is 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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