What VA Disability Rating should I expect for foot injuries?
Published January 6, 2023
Soldiers spend a lot of time on their feet – standing, marching, running – and thus, it is no surprise that veterans frequently suffer foot injuries and post-discharge continuing disabling conditions relating to their feet.
Are you one of those veterans? Have you been diagnosed with a foot injury, such as foot sprain, plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or another service-connected foot injury? This article reviews the process for getting compensation for foot conditions, including how to handle your VA disability rating dispute through the VA claim appeals process.
The VA Disability Rating process
VA disability benefits are available to all veterans who were “other than dishonorably discharged” and have a current disability that is service-connected, meaning there is a nexus or connection between the qualifying military service and the disability.
The process for obtaining VA disability benefit payments begins with filing an application with the VA. This is usually done by the veteran themselves or with the assistance of a VSO.
The VA reviews the application and related documentation, including your service record and medical records, and may request a C&P examination. Reviewing all those materials, the VA decides whether you have the required military service, whether you have a current disability, and whether there is a connection between the two. If the VA agrees that you have a service-connected disability, it will then designate a rating number (individually to each claim and an overall rating) and an effective date for the start of benefit payments. The rating number is used to calculate the amount of monthly benefits.
It is probably no surprise that the VA often makes mistakes on disability claim decisions. Whether it is a denial of a claim, an underrating of its severity, or other issues, veterans can file an appeal to challenge these decisions and sometimes increase their VA disability rating. Representation by an experienced VA disability appeal attorney is very helpful for a successful appeal.
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, though not always, resolved in favor of the veteran.
Common foot injuries for veterans and how the VA rates them
Some common foot injuries for VA disability claims are plantar fasciitis, flat foot, claw foot, and various other foot injuries ranging from moderate to severe.
Rating of foot injuries is determined according to specific diagnosis in the case of several conditions, with rating numbers ranging from 10% up to 40% when actual loss of use of the foot is involved. Ratings of 50% are reserved for the most significant level of flat foot (both feet) and claw foot (both feet).
Remember that foot problems often are not isolated to the foot itself. Foot problems can often be intertwined with other leg problems or back complications.
What should you expect monetarily for foot injuries?
Monetary VA disability benefits for foot injuries are calculated similarly to other types of disabilities. Each disability claim (often veterans have more than one disabling condition) gives an individual rating number, and then all are combined through a specific VA calculation into an overall disability rating. It is that overall disability ratings number that is the starting point for determining monthly benefits. For overall disability ratings of up to 30%, there are set dollar amounts for payments. For overall disability ratings exceeding 30%, the amount of monthly benefits will also factor in whether you have a spouse, dependent children, and/or dependent parents.
For 2022, an overall 10% rating 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 foot injuries?
TDIU (Total Disability Individual Unemployability) is a status where a veteran is paid at a 100% disability rate because their service-connected disabilities prohibit the veteran from sustaining gainful employment, even though their overall rating calculated the usual way is less than 100%. If the criteria for TDIU is met through foot injuries or any other collection of injuries, you can get it.
TDIU review requires 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.
Although, as noted above, a single foot injury will not be rated at 60% or higher, but foot injuries often are tied in with additional conditions, especially over time. Foot injuries, more often than not, will affect your gait, and then your body will try to accommodate, often causing secondary conditions in the legs, knees, hips, and spine.
Inconsistent work or marginal employment is not “gainful employment” for purposes of TDIU analysis. If your yearly earned income is not above federal poverty levels (currently around $12k/year), that will be considered “marginal employment” only.
An experienced VA disability attorney can help determine if you meet the requirements for getting a TDIU determination.
How can you appeal your VA Disability rating?
Within a year from the date of your ratings decision letter, you can file an appeal to contest any aspect of the decision. VA claim appeals are a method to overturn a claim denial to increase your VA disability rating. Unfortunately, the VA frequently makes mistakes, and though it can take time, it may be worthwhile for you to appeal the decision.
There are three types of appeals– a Higher Level Review, a Supplemental Claim, or a Board Review. Each type has pros and cons depending on the details of the rating decision and what you want to contest. Insight and guidance from an experienced VA disability appeal attorney can help you determine the likelihood of success of an appeal.
As you have already observed, the VA disability process is complicated and hard to navigate, but VA disability benefits decisions can, and often are, modified to the veteran’s benefit. A VA disability claim attorney can help you simplify the process and explain the evidence and law in a way that makes it easier for the VA to grant your appeal.
Are you dissatisfied with the VA’s decision on your disability claim for foot injuries or other claims? Veterans Law Group has helped thousands of veterans obtain millions in VA disability benefit payments. They may be able to help you too. Request your free case evaluation now.