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May 18, 2023

Understanding the VA Knee Rating Chart

Last updated on April 22, 2024

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Service members are often on their feet and performing heavy lifting, so it’s no surprise that limited flexion of the knee ranks high on the list of the most common VA disabilities.

The VA knee rating chart details VA ratings depending on the level of knee pain and its frequency, severity, and duration.

Understanding what you qualify for can be confusing, but we’ve got you covered!

va knee rating chart

How the VA Rates Knee Pain

The VA Knee Rating Chart assigns a rating of 10%-60%, depending on the condition’s severity. In addition, if the pain requires surgery, you may receive a temporary VA rating of 100% post-op. 

For example, knee resurfacing or knee replacement surgery is listed under diagnostic code (DC) 5055, and the VA will pay 100% for four months after your surgery date. 

The VA rates knee conditions under the Title 38 CFR knee rating chart, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, DC 5257, Knee Impairment, although “Unfavorable Ankylosis of the Knee” is rated under DC 5256, with ratings between 30%-60%. 

However, since many knee conditions may qualify for disability, finding the correct one for you can be tricky, so having a service-connected diagnosis is crucial. 

The VA knee rating chart often considers flexion (to what degree the knee can bend) and extension (to what degree the knee can straighten). Normal flexion of the knee is typically between 135 and 140°, with a normal extension between 0 and -10°. 

38 cfr knee rating chart

VA Knee Rating Chart for Pain 

DC 5257, Knee Pain:VA Rating
Recurrent subluxation or instability:
Unrepaired or failed repair of complete ligament tear causing persistent instability, and a medical provider prescribes both an assistive device (e.g., cane(s), crutch(es), walker) and bracing for ambulation30%
One of the following:
(a) Sprain, incomplete ligament tear, or repaired complete ligament tear causing persistent instability, and a medical provider prescribes a brace and/or assistive device (e.g., cane(s), crutch(es), walker) for ambulation.20%
(b) Unrepaired or failed repair of complete ligament tear causing persistent instability, and a medical provider prescribes either an assistive device (e.g., cane(s), crutch(es), walker) or bracing for ambulation20%
Sprain, incomplete ligament tear, or complete ligament tear (repaired, unrepaired, or failed repair) causing persistent instability without a prescription from a medical provider for an assistive device (e.g., cane(s), crutch(es), walker) or bracing for ambulation10%
VA knee pain rating chart

VA Rating for Unfavorable Ankylosis of the Knee

DC 5256, Ankylosis of the Knee:VA Rating
Extremely unfavorable, in flexion at an angle of 45° or more60%
In flexion between 20° and 45°50%
In flexion between 10° and 20°40%
Favorable angle in full extension or in slight flexion between 0° and 10°30%

VA Rating for Limitation of Flexion 

DC 5260, Leg, Limitation of FlexionVA Rating
Flexion limited to 15°30%
Flexion limited to 30°20%
Flexion limited to 45°10%
Flexion limited to 60°0%

VA Rating for Limitation of Extension 

DC5261, Leg, Limitation of Extension VA Rating
Flexion limited to 45°50%
Flexion limited to 30°40%
Flexion limited to 20 °30%
Flexion limited to 15°20%
Flexion limited to 10°10%
Flexion limited to 5°0%

What Knee Problems Qualify for Disability?

Several knee problems could qualify you for VA disability compensation and benefits. Remember, submitting a claim doesn’t automatically guarantee you will receive compensation, but it’s a necessary step in getting the benefits you deserve. 

Common veteran knee conditions

  • Instability of the knee – The feeling of having your knee move side to side when doing simple activities. 
  • Osteoarthritis – The most common form of arthritis causes the joint’s cartilage to break down and change the underlying bone structure. 
  • Subluxation – A partial dislocation of the knee causing pain, swelling, and immobility. 
  • Ankylosis – Stiffness of the knee that prevents movement, usually caused by injury or disease. 
  • Osteomyelitis – Is an infection of the bone and marrow and can have periods of activity and inactivity.
  • Effusion – A swollen knee due to excessive fluid around the joints. 
  • Hyperextension – There’s been an excessive movement of a joint in one direction (straightening). In other words, the joint has been forced to move beyond its normal range of motion.
  • Bursitis – A painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs-called bursae (bur-SEE)-that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when bursae become inflamed. 

Veterans experiencing one of the above conditions should work on establishing a connection between the pain and their military service. Reviewing the VA knee rating chart will assist you in determining what condition you may have. 


Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call with an experienced Team Member. Learn what you’ve been missing so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you’ve earned for your service.

Can I Get VA Compensation for Knee Pain?

Yes! Veterans with knee pain connected to their service may be eligible for compensation. The frequency, severity, and duration of your disability will help determine your final rating from the VA Knee Rating Chart.

Unfortunately, pain alone isn’t a diagnosis. You must receive an official diagnosis of a medical condition and prove that it’s service-connected to be eligible for VA compensation. However, knee pain is often a sign of an underlying condition and can help qualify you for a VA rating. 

You can qualify for compensation if your knee condition is due to your time in the service, or you can prove your duty worsened a pre-existing knee condition. However, you must provide a VA service connection by aggravation to prove your disability worsened due to active duty. 

In addition, the VA uses compensation and pension (C&P) exams to assess knee pain and its impact on your life. The outcome will help determine whether there is a link or connection between your condition and military service. 

Watch our VA C&P Exam: 10 Things to Know Before You Go (*NEW* TIPS!) for helpful information before going to your C&P exam. 

Doctor looking at a knee x-Ray.

How Do I Get a VA Rating for Knee Pain?

You must take specific steps to receive a knee pain VA rating. The more evidence you have to prove your condition, the greater your chance of winning your claim. 

Three main ways to get a VA rating for knee pain

Direct Service ConditionThis means that a particular disease or injury was incurred in service. This is accomplished by affirmatively showing inception during serviceVA rating: 10%, 20%, or 30% 
Secondary Service Connection Veterans can be rated for disabilities that are proximately due to, or the result of, a service-connected (SC) conditionVA rating: 10%, 20%, or 30% 
Unfavorable Ankylosis of the KneeWhen you can’t bend it past certain degrees, measured by a GoniometerVA rating: 30%, 40%, 50%, or 60%

See also: 3 Best Ways to Get a VA Rating for Knee Pain


You’re not alone if you experience knee pain due to your time in the service.

If your knee pain is connected to your military service, you may be entitled to VA benefits and compensation. The 38 CFR knee rating chart requires an understanding of your diagnosis before determining your VA rating. 

While most knee pain ratings vary from 10%-60%, it will depend on the severity of your case, especially if you require surgery. Remember, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion if you are unsatisfied with an initial response.


Understanding the VA Knee Rating Chart can get confusing, but we’re here to help you. Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law. 

Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC)—so you can increase your rating FAST!

If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!

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