UNITED STATES—A lot of military veterans suffer from musculoskeletal and back injuries, which can lead to sciatica. Statistics from a national health survey showed that 21.6% of veterans surveyed experienced severe back pain, making life very uncomfortable. Fortunately, if these veterans prove that the illness was related to their military service, they may be entitled to VA disability benefits.
Sometimes, veterans are not sure if they will qualify for benefits, or they may be discouraged because they’ve applied and been turned down in the past. A veteran attorney can assist them in determining their ratings to file a claim. Please continue reading to learn more about this condition and how VA rates it.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to a nerve condition that involves pain along the sciatic nerve. It runs from the lower back going through the hips and buttocks, and ends on each leg, making it the biggest in the human body. Sciatica can occur due to an injury, spinal stenosis, or rapture in the intervertebral disk.
Typically, sciatica will only alter one side of the body, although some patients experience bilateral effects. Veterans suffering from this illness can experience some of the following symptoms:
- Numbness and tingling
- Burning sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Moderate or extreme pain
- Difficulty when walking
VA Rating for Sciatica
Usually, sciatica ranking is in three categories depending on the severity of symptoms. They include paralysis, neuritis, and neuralgia. The most severe condition is paralysis, followed by neuritis, then neuralgia, which is the most commonly reported case. Still, each of the classifications has subdivisions ranging from mild, moderate to severe symptoms as follows:
Complete Paralysis of the Sciatic Nerve (Code 8520)
The muscles below the knee and leg cannot function. There will be difficulties while bending the knee since the nerve no longer works, leading to an 80% rating. Incomplete, severe paralysis with poor blood circulation, limited movement of the affected part, and muscular atrophy can lead to a 60% rating. Incomplete and moderate-severe paralysis gets a 40% disability rating. Incomplete, moderate paralysis is given a 20% rating, while mild paralysis leads to a 10% disability rating.
Neuritis of the Sciatic Nerve (Code 8620)
The veteran can experience severe muscular atrophy, loss of sensation, reduced movement, and loss of reflexes. Additionally, the nerve function can be painful, irritated, and swollen, leading to a 60% disability rating. On the other hand, if it has moderately severe, moderate, and mild symptoms, a veteran can get ratings ranging from 40%, 20% to 10%.
Neuralgic of the Sciatic Nerve (Code 8720)
A veteran with this condition will experience numbness, tingling, and moderate pain. They can also feel some consistent or occasional pain in the nerve, resulting in a 20% rating. Those with mild symptoms only or a small intervention on the limb can get a 10% disability rating.
If your condition is due to your service time in the military and you can prove it, you may be eligible for VA benefits. Sciatica is mostly a result of other back problems such as disc herniation or spinal stenosis. You can try to recall what you mostly engaged in, if you ever fell and how those scenarios affected your back to prove the connection.
Additionally, veterans should support their belief with vital medical documents as evidence that the back pain started after the service time. They can also ask a physician to back up the information by giving a written opinion. According to the VA Veterans Benefits Administration, 128,935 veterans received compensation with a 50% or more combined degree of the service-connected disability in the 2013 Fiscal Year.
With the above information, veterans can determine their category depending on the sciatic nerve condition’s severity level. Next, they can file a claim either online, by email, in person, or with a professional’s help. If you need any assistance while proving your service connection, you should get assistance from veteran lawyers.
An attorney who specializes in helping veterans will have experience arguing cases at all stages of your claim, even if you have to take it to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims or the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. They can represent you to make sure you get the disability benefits you are entitled to if you suffer from service-connected sciatica (Source: https://cck-law.com/practice-area/veterans-law/).