To rate herniated Discs, the VA uses 38 CFR SS 4.71a. Schedule of Ratings for Musculoskeletal System.
The VA Disability Ratings for Herniated discs are as follows:
- 10% – In the previous twelve months, did you experience a one week or longer period where you were unable for work because of an incapacitating episodes lasting less than two weeks but at least one?
- 20% – Veterans who had episodes lasting for at least 2 and not less than 4 weeks during the previous 12 months may be eligible for this rating.
- 40% – Watching episodes for at least four weeks but not more than six weeks in the last 12 months.
- 60% – A veteran who has been incapacitated for more than 6 weeks during the past 12 month must have reported it to the VA.
How does the VA rate herniated discs?
Veterans affairs uses these rating criteria in order to determine whether to approve your VA disability case.
- Muscle weakness refers to the extent to which your muscle strength is reduced.
- Walking difficulty: A measure of how difficult you find it to walk.
- Loss of Balance: The degree to which you feel out of control. This could be anything from a small loss to a severe loss.
The VA will also look at any limitations in your daily life. These limitations can be anything from minor, like being unable to lift heavy objects, to very severe, like being completely disabled.
TDIU for Herniated Discs
In certain cases, herniated spines can make it difficult to work. If this is the situation, you may be eligible under total disability based solely on individual unemployment (TDIU). To be eligible for TDIU you will need to prove your condition prohibits you from securing and keeping substantially profitable employment. This refers to any job that pays more than $18,000 per calendar year before taxes.
The VA will consider all of your medical evidence and determine whether you can work. This includes your symptom ratings and the results of any C&P examinations. Also, statements from your doctors about how you are able to work. If the VA finds that you are unable, they will provide TDIU benefits at the full rating.
This article should help to make it clearer what the VA disability ratings are for herniated spines. Please contact us with any questions regarding appealing a VA claim for disability. We’re here for you! You can also read our blog posts regarding VA disability ratings, such as:
- Orthopedic Conditions
- Tinnitus and hearing loss
- Mental Illness Ratings
Many Symptoms Support a VA Disability Rate for a Bulging Disc
The spine includes vertebrae, which are bones that are separated and cushioned in discs. These discs don’t contain any bones; instead, they have a fibrous outer ring that protects the rubbery nucleus. The discs allow for flexibility in the spine. You can bend forward, sideways, and twist. The discs are shock absorbers that prevent the vertebrae from grinding against each other. It’s easy for you to see why discs can cause back pain. A bulging disc (also known as a prolapsed disc) occurs when the fibrous rings lose their structural integrity and become deformed. A bulging disc can be caused by the loss of fibrous ring strength due to overuse, injury, and age. The discs tend to dry out and harden with age. The hardening and loss of back flexibility in older people can be at least partially caused by this. These discs may become more susceptible for deformation when you lift or twist your body.
Even young people can develop bulging discs. Some people have a predisposition to spine discs that are susceptible to damage. However, the majority of bulging discs found in young adults are due to their physical activity. Bulging discs can occur from lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling and pushing heavy loads. The same goes for strenuous exercise, accident falls, and car collisions. These can all lead to bulging discs. A bulging disc can result from many of the activities that active service members are required to perform.
Sometimes, discs may bulge without any symptoms. However, discs cannot deform due to the limited space available in the spine. The result is that most bulging discs will push into and intrude the spinal canal.
The spinal canal runs from your spinal cord to the brain. A bulging disc that presses against the spinal cord may cause a range of symptoms that do not necessarily indicate a problem with your back. You may feel symptoms in your hands, arms or legs depending on how severe the bulging disc is. It may cause tingling, severe pain, or numbness. Because the lumbar spine is where most of your weight is located, it is more vulnerable to a bulging disc than your cervical spine (which is located in your neck and upper back). A bulging disc can cause nerve pain and muscle weakness. A bulging disc may cause problems with walking or incontinence.
Establishing a Service Connect for a VA Disability Rating for a Bulging disc
For some medical conditions, it’s easier to obtain a VA disability rating due to a bulging disc than it is for others. Numerous physical activities can cause a bulging or herniated spine, including military service. Even PT may lead to a bulging disc. It is possible to prove your disability by providing medical records that demonstrate you have suffered from back problems while serving.
Additionally, bulging discs may be the result of injuries in training accidents, motor vehicle collisions, or other incidents. If you have service records that show these incidents, they can help to establish a connection between disability and military service. There are 3 ways you can connect your disability to your service
Service makes condition worse
You might be able to link your service and your disability if your condition was present when you first joined the service. Medical records from your service are the best way to prove your condition has changed. These records can show the severity and frequency with which your bulging/herniated discs occurred during your time in military service. If you find that your condition has worsened more quickly than the natural progression of your bulging disc, the records may be used to prove that your military service was responsible. Pointing to a specific incident that caused your bulging/herniated disc is one way to show that it was not an inevitable progression. This could include a fall that injured your back.