VA Disability Benefits for Knee Injuries: What You Need to Know
Published December 30, 2022
Knee injuries VA disability claims are common among veterans. Are you a veteran suffering from service-connected knee injuries? Has your claim for disability benefits been denied or underrated by the VA?
This article reviews what you need to know about VA disability benefits for knee injuries, the VA disability process, and options to increase your VA disability rating.
The VA Disability Rating process
If you have a service-connected knee injury, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits in the form of monthly monetary payments. To qualify for VA disability benefits, you must first file an application with the VA. Within a few months after filing, you should receive a decision from the VA on whether they recognize that you have a disability, whether they agree that it is service-connected (caused or aggravated by your military service), and if they agree on both points, what your VA disability rating number will be. If you have multiple disabilities (as many veterans do), those individual ratings will be combined by the VA into a single overall disability rating. That overall disability rating will be used to determine the amount of your monthly payments.
Unfortunately, the VA often makes mistakes on disability claim decisions, sometimes denying claims that should have been granted, sometimes underrating the extent of the disability or other errors. However, many of these issues can be corrected or reversed upon appeal, especially when a skilled VA disability appeal attorney represents you.
If you have been denied VA disability benefits for your service-connected knee injury or believe you were underrated, you have one year from the date of your decision letter to request a review of that decision through an appeal. VA disability rating disputes through appeal are frequently resolved in favor of the veteran, especially when a knowledgeable and experienced VA disability claim attorney represents them.
Common knee injuries for veterans and how the VA rates them
Some of the most common knee injuries for VA disability claims are knee strain, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) (pain on the outside of the knee), knee replacements, and knee instability.
When it comes to general rating knee injuries, the VA has a range of 0% to 60% when looking at issues of immobility and range of motion at various angles, instability of the joint, doctor prescriptions for brace, cane, or walker, responsiveness to various types of treatment (ranging from shoe orthotics and other conservative treatments and up to surgery), and length of treatment. One example is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) or shin splints, where treatment of at least a year, unresponsiveness to surgery, or other treatments, for both lower extremities can be rated at 30%. If MTSS has been treated for less than a year, it will only be rated at 0%.
Prosthetic replacement of a knee joint is rated at 30% (minimum rating), 60% with chronic residuals such as painful motion or weakness, but is 100% for one year following the implantation of the prosthesis.
Arthritis of the knee is rated using the same analysis of other cases of arthritis, and ratings can range from 10% up to 100%.
What should you expect monetarily for knee injuries?
Monthly benefit payments for VA disability claims are calculated based on your combined or overall disability rating. For overall disability ratings of 30% or higher, the calculation also includes your family dependents.
No benefits will be paid at a 0% rating, but for a 10% rating for an unmarried veteran with no spouse or dependent children or parents, the 2022 monthly payment rates start at $152.64 and go up from there for higher disability ratings with the added consideration of the veteran’s dependent family members for 30% disability rating or more.
Can you receive TDIU for knee injuries?
Yes. TDIU (Total Disability Individual Unemployability) means that a veteran rated at less than 100% overall is paid at a 100% rate because their service-connected disabilities prohibit the veteran from sustaining gainful employment.
Straightforward TDIU requirements are that a veteran has (1) a single service‐connected disability rated at 60% or higher, OR two or more service‐connected disabilities with at least one disability rated at 40% or higher, AND (2) sufficient additional service‐connected disabilities to bring the combined service‐connected rating to 70% or higher. This is in addition to the requirement that these disabilities prohibit the veteran from sustaining gainful employment.
Gainful employment is something more than odd jobs and marginal employment. If the veteran’s earned income does not exceed the federal poverty level (currently around $12k/year), that is marginal employment only.
Proving entitlement to TDIU can be done for any disability that meets the general TDIU requirements, including knee injuries if severe enough. A VA disability attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to claim a TDIU determination.
How can you appeal your VA Disability rating?
You have one year from the date of your ratings decision letter to file an appeal if you are dissatisfied with the VA’s decision. VA claim appeals are a method to overturn a denial of a claim or to increase your VA disability rating.
You have the option of three types of appeals– a Higher Level Review, which is a second look at your claims file by more experienced raters, a Supplemental Claim, which allows you to add additional evidence to your claim file, or a Board Review which allows for a live hearing in front of a judge. The best type of appeal for you will depend on the specifics of your case and how the VA reached the conclusions it reached. This is the point at which it is helpful to reach out to an experienced VA disability appeal attorney to help you understand which path makes the most sense for your case.
Are you unhappy with the VA’s decision on your disability claim for knee injuries or other claims? Veterans Law Group is here to help. Our experienced attorneys offer a free evaluation of your case.