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VA Disability Claims Involving Spinal Injury

spinal injury va claim

VA Disability Claims Involving Spinal Injury

When it comes to service-related spinal injuries, there are a lot of specific criteria that need to be met in order to receive benefits from the VA.

Claims that involve spinal injuries are rated under the same general formula, whether they are cervical spine or thoracolumbar spine injuries. This includes the following spinal conditions:

  • Lumbosacral or cervical strain
  • Spondylolisthesis or segmental instability
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Spinal fusion
  • Vertebral fracture or dislocation

Range of motion (ROM) is the main criteria that the above conditions are rated on when it comes to VA disability claims involving spinal injury. The cervical spine and thoracolumbar spine are rated according to the criteria in the chart below.

  Cervical Spine Thoracolumbar Spine
0% Flexion over 45 degrees or ROM over 340 degrees Flexion over 90 degrees or ROM over 240 degrees
10% Flexion between 30 and 45 or combined ROM between 175 and 340 degrees Flexion between 60 and 90 degrees or combined ROM between 125 and 240 degrees
20% Flexion between 15 and 35 degrees or combined ROM less than 170 degrees Flexion between 30 and 65 degrees or combined ROM less than 120 degrees
30% Flexion less than 15 degrees or entire cervical spine is frozen in a favorable position No applicable
40% Entire cervical spine is frozen in an unfavorable position Flexion less than 30 degrees or entire thoracolumbar spine is frozen in a favorable position
50% Not applicable Entire thoracolumbar spine is frozen in an unfavorable position
100% Entire spine is frozen in an unfavorable position Entire spine is froze in an unfavorable position

Due to the importance of ROM in the rating of the spinal injury, it is extremely important that a doctor performs ROM testing, and does it accurately. Specifically, all ROM testing must be done with a goniometer for claims to be considered by the VA. Results not utilizing a goniometer will not be considered by the VA.

In addition, general rating criteria determines if the spine is frozen in a favorable or unfavorable position in terms of ROM. A favorable position would be a ROM measurement for flexion or extension that is 0 degrees. Unfavorable means any position that is not 0 degrees flexion or extension.

Also to be considered in VA disability claims involving spinal injury is conditions that are secondary to the spinal injury itself, but could be considered to be caused by the spinal condition being present. For example, spinal injury may cause individuals to have to compensate, causing hip and knee issues. Spinal conditions also commonly cause nerve problems, which can affect many parts of the body, including the lower extremities.

In all of these cases, an attorney can help with any VA disability application or denial. Getting a second opinion is also a common occurrence for individuals who have been wrongly denied. The professionals at Tabak Law have a plethora of experience with VA benefits and can help. Call about your case, risk-free at 844-432-0114.

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