Regardless of their branch of service or Military Occupational Specialty, most Veterans had a physically demanding experience while serving. This is obvious for Veterans who served in combat, but it may not be as obvious for those weren’t in combat. Everyday life in the Military is physically demanding. Everything from ruck marches to the type of footwear you’re required to wear can take a toll on the body. It’s no surprise that so many Veterans have issues with their joints. Regardless of whether it’s their knees, ankles, shoulders, or other joints, many Veterans file claims for joint-related issues.
So, if joint issues are common, and it makes sense that many Vets suffer from joint-related medical conditions, it should be easy for Vets to service-connect for VA Disability pertaining to joint conditions, right? Unfortunately, it can be far from easy. While there are many issues that make this process difficult, one of the more common reasons has to do with something known as “range of motion.”
Our firm has represented Veterans for more than a decade, and we have been helping individuals get their Social Security Disability benefits since 1994. So far, we have yet to have a client approach us about a joint issue because their range of motion is limited. Instead, most Veterans want to file a VA Disability claim for a joint because they have some sort of pain. Perhaps they can’t stand for a long period of time because their ankles hurt, or they can’t lift as much as they used to because of their knee pain. Unfortunately, the VA rates joint conditions based on a range of motion, and not on pain alone.
What is Range of Motion?
According to verywellhealth.com, Range of Motion (ROM) is the measurement of the amount of movement around a specific joint or body part. It is commonly measured during a physical therapy evaluation or during a course of treatment. Other impairments that your physical therapist may measure include strength, gait, flexibility, or balance.
How do I get service-connected?
While it may seem like an uphill battle, getting service-connected for a joint issue is possible. However, you do need to check a few things off your list first. One of the most crucial items is treatment in service. If your knees were treated in the service, it will help immensely with your claim. Also helpful is a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) which dealt with a lot of wear and tear. For instance, if you had to perform a lot of parachute jumps, worked as a mechanic, or were in combat, it will help establish proof that your injuries were a result of your time in service.
Treatment in service alone may not be enough to get service-connected. Treatment after service is important, too. Seeing your doctor regularly and receiving treatment for your joint condition will also help your claim. These medical records can be submitted to the VA as evidence for your claim. While we’re on the topic of medical treatment, it’s imperative to be free from large gaps in treatment. If you didn’t treat in service and had a gap in treatment of five years or more, it may be difficult to get service-connected.
Finally, if your injury is impacting your job, it may help your claim. For instance, if you must take a lot of breaks because of your shoulder pain due to an injury sustained while in the Military, or if you must have some sort of special accommodation to perform your duties because of your injury/condition from the Military, you can use this as evidence, too.
Dealing with the VA can be a difficult and complicated task. That’s why so many people turn to experienced law firms like Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. Since 2008, we’ve helped thousands of Veterans get the VA Disability benefits they deserve. For a free consultation, call us at 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can contact you at a better time.