VA Disability for Back pain

Do you have lower back pain? Or any type of back pain for that matter? Did you know you could be entitled to VA disability based on your service to our country?

Many veterans have had some sort of incident with there body while they served. Some people may have fallen, or others might have been more seriously wounded. Bottom line is we all worked our bodies to the bone while we trained to become soldiers, seaman, or airmen.

What is chronic back pain?

In order to be successful with your VA disability claim, you have to know what the VA is looking for. First, you must prove to the VA rater that your back pain has a clear NEXUS, or service-connection. Get a medical diagnosis or something to prove that you do have back pain. Next, you will need to find the link to your time in service. This can be proved through medical records, buddy letters, and a statement in support of claim.

The way your back pain is measured is by your range of motion. In your C&P exam, this really means range of pain. They are not asking how far you can touch your toes, but how far you can easily touch your toes. What this means for your exam, is that if you can touch your toes but it hurts, the examiner is not going to see that. They are only going to see that you can touch your toes and rate you incorrectly.

Again, we are NOT encouraging you to lie or exaggerate your symptoms. You are being rated for everything as soon as you walk into the room. This means that you do not need to push through the pain for the rater. For further qualifications, your Veteran Coach will coach you before you go into your C&P exam.

Back and spine conditions

Here is some information straight from Military Disability Made Easy.

“It is challenging to decide how best to rate a spine condition, but the basic rule of thumb is to rate it under the code that would give the highest rating.

Always start first with the General Rating Formula (below). This is still the primary rating system for any spine condition, and any other rating system should only be used if it gives a higher rating. There are, of course, a few exceptions that are discussed below.”

VA Disability for Back pain Screen Shot 2019 04 07 at 5.35.21 PM
General Rating Formula from Military Disability Made Easy


“Also, note that the cervical spine and the thoracolumbar spine are to be rated as two separate conditions except when both are frozen in an unfavorable position.”

Here are a few pointers for your back claim

– If the spine is frozen and cannot move at all, it is considered favorable if it is frozen at 0° for flexion or extension. If it is frozen at any other place in flexion or extension, then it is considered unfavorable.

– All measurements are rounded to the nearest 5 (8° rounds up to 10°, 7° rounds down to 5°, etc.)

– There are some very rare circumstances where a physician can declare that a limited ROM is normal for an individual and thus not ratable. This is very rare and only happens if the physician can provide significant evidence that the ROM is normal for a particular individual.

There is one general rating formula for any condition of the spine that is used in the majority of cases. We’ll discuss this general formula first, and then address exceptions.
The general formula is based primarily on the range of motion (ROM). The images below show a standard ROM for the cervical and thoracolumbar spines.”

Remember, your rating is based on the range of motion

Military Disability Made Easy has many great resources for any aspect of your claim that you are considering. Head over to their website and take a look around. You will find many great resources there

David Sinsel is apart of VA Claims Insider Team and an Army Disabled Veteran. You can contact him at [email protected]

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