Can I receive VA Disability for nerve damage?
Published January 13, 2023
Nerve damage is common for veterans, and VA disability benefit claims are often filed for radiculopathy, peripheral neuropathy, and other nerve damage.
Can you receive VA disability for tingling in your arms and legs? Possibly yes, if that nerve damage was caused or aggravated by your military service. This article provides an overview of nerve damage VA disability benefits and the VA disability process to obtain them.
The VA Disability Rating process
When a veteran has applied for VA disability benefits and the VA agrees that the veteran has a current disabling condition that was caused, or aggravated by, something that happened during their military service, the next step is to assign a VA disability rating number which will then determine the amount of monthly benefits.
Federal laws and regulations set forth detailed explanations of what various physical and mental conditions qualify for what rating levels. In general terms, a medical diagnosis only, without any significant symptoms, might result in a 0% rating, whereas increasing levels of symptoms may qualify for 10%, 30%, or even up to 100% for some conditions.
When a veteran has multiple conditions, the VA will rate each separately and then compile them in a “VA math” formula to reach a combined or overall rating number (not to exceed 100%). For an overall rating up to 30%, monthly payments are made without regard to the veteran’s family status. However, for an overall rating exceeding 30%, the VA also factors whether the veteran has a spouse, dependent children, and/or dependent parents in determining the monthly benefit amount to be paid.
Some claims are granted at an acceptable level upon the initial application, but unfortunately, around 70% of claims are denied. You can appeal a denial or even an underrating of your disability. Upon appeal, especially when counsel represents you, your odds of a favorable outcome (or at least a remand back for further review) are around 70%, the highest, according to VA statistical reporting, when represented by a private attorney.
Common nerve damage issues for veterans and how the VA rates them?
Arm and leg VA disability claims are frequently made to the VA. Common nerve damage issues for veterans are radiculopathy (pinched nerves in the spine), sciatica (pain along the sciatic nerve from the lower back through hips, buttocks, and down each leg), and neuropathy (frequently prickling, burning, or numbness). Symptoms of nerve damage can range from prickling, stabbing, burning, pain, and numbness to partial or complete paralysis. These nerve issues can manifest in various portions of the body and are often related to other injuries.
The VA uses a rating schedule which, for nerve damage issues, is broken down by the nerve group affected and then looks at the level of severity. For example, sciatic nerve issues are rated at 10%, 20%, 40%, 60%, or 80%, ranging from mild to severe or complete paralysis. For upper body nerve issues, the rating level also considers whether your dominant or non-dominant side is affected.
What should you expect monetarily for nerve damage?
VA disability benefit payment amounts are determined based on the overall disability rating number. For ratings over 30%, the VA also factors whether you are married, have dependent children, or have dependent parents. As of 2022, an overall 10% rating (for nerve damage or any other condition) will equate to $152.64/mo, but a 100% overall rating for a veteran who is married and with two dependent parents will equate to $3,816.04/month.
Can you receive TDIU for nerve damage?
Yes. The criteria for a grant of a TDIU (Total Disability Individual Unemployability) claim is not limited by the type of underlying disability. A TDIU claim has two conditions: (1) at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one rated at 40% or more and a combined rating of 70% or more; and (2) evidence that you can’t hold down substantially gainful employment because of your service-connected disability.
Sometimes TDIU can be granted with a lower disability rating. Learn more here.
How can you appeal your VA Disability rating?
A VA disability rating dispute needs to be handled through the VA claim appeals process. Whether you want an increased VA disability rating or disagree with any portion of the initial decision on your VA disability benefits claim, you can file an appeal within one year of the decision letter. There are three different pathways for appeal, a Higher Level Review (same information reviewed by a more experienced reviewer), a Supplemental Claim (you to add additional evidence to support your claim), or a Board Review (allows a live hearing before a Veterans Law Judge, in person or via video conference).
To increase your VA disability rating through appeal, you will need to identify what the VA did wrong and, in short, line up the evidence for the VA to see how it needs to change its decision. Appeals can also challenge an outright denial of a claim or other aspects of their decision.
The VA disability appeal process is complex, which is why this stage in the process may warrant hiring a VA disability attorney. Talking to an experienced VA disability claim attorney can help you decide whether or not to appeal at all. According to VA statistics, hiring them to represent you will increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Attorneys have worked on thousands of cases and thus have a much better understanding of how to argue the evidence in a way that makes it easy for the VA to agree with you.
Has your nerve damage claim been denied or underrated by the VA? Veteran’s Law Group may be able to help. Request your free case evaluation here.