Physical Conditions and VA Disability
Are you a veteran experiencing physical conditions? VA disability benefits may be owed to you. This guide goes over the common symptoms you may face from your time in the military and how to seek help from the VA for your disability. It will also help you understand your eligibility for benefits and how to apply for them.
When you joined the military, you took on potential risks to your life and health. If you suffer from physical conditions or a disability from your time in the military, you may be owed benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Knowing how to apply for these benefits can be difficult, but we are here to help you understand the process and begin your application today.
Below you will learn about VA-eligible physical conditions and see a VA disability conditions list to help you understand if you’re eligible for benefits.
What Physical Conditions Are Eligible for VA Disability?
Many types of physical conditions may make you eligible for VA disability compensation. If your physical condition results from your military service or was made worse by active duty, you are likely entitled to a disability designation and financial benefits.
Below are some of the most common conditions that may make you eligible.
Hearing Loss & Tinnitus
Hearing loss is an extremely common problem for many U.S. veterans. It can affect your ability to live a normal life, work in certain jobs, or even work at all. Veterans often experience hearing loss for reasons such as:
- Exposure to gunfire
- Noise from equipment and aircraft
- Jet fuel
- Blast injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Tinnitus is a form of hearing loss that causes ringing in the ears. This and other forms of hearing loss may be treatable, and your VA benefits may cover this treatment.
Nerve and Neurological Damage
Nerve and neurological damage are all too common for military veterans. These disorders can be incapacitating and very painful.
The most common nerve and neurological disorders include:
Nerve conditions are often considered presumptive conditions for disability under federal law, meaning that you may be entitled to VA benefits even if the condition was not incurred during your time in the military.
Service-related skin conditions can lead to annoying or debilitating harm to your body. These often include conditions such as:
- Skin cancer
- Urticaria (hives)
- Burns, scarring, and disfigurement
- Immune disorders
You may be entitled to treatment for your skin condition and disability benefits for qualifying conditions.
Musculoskeletal conditions are characterized as physical conditions that cause pain in the joints, muscles, bones, or connective tissues in your body. Examples of musculoskeletal conditions that are common for military veterans include:
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back injuries and conditions like scoliosis
- Trigger finger
- Muscle strains
- Bulging or Herniated disc
These and other musculoskeletal conditions can have a significant negative impact on your health.
A respiratory condition affects the lungs or your ability to breathe. Respiratory conditions are often caused by exposure to certain toxins or carcinogenic materials during service. For military veterans, these conditions commonly include:
Other physical disabilities eligible for VA compensation include:
How Are Physical Disabilities Rated by the VA?
When you have a physical disability, your disability is rated by the VA, and you are assigned a number. The disability rating is based on the severity of your physical condition. If you suffer from multiple disabilities, the VA can calculate a combined disability rating.
The ratings are expressed as percentages. This percentage represents the degree to which your physical condition decreases your overall health and your ability to function. The ratings range from 10 percent to 100 percent. As the percentage range moves higher, you will receive more compensation for your disability.
When you submit a completed application for disability compensation, the VA examines many factors to decide your disability rating. These factors include:
- Your physical condition, injury, or illness
- The severity of your medical condition
- The evidence and medical records attached to your application
- Whether you have a spouse, children, or other dependents
- Aggravation from the date of your military service
How Does the Rating Affect Total Compensation?
The VA utilizes a disability rate compensation chart to determine how much compensation you are entitled to. The VA bases this monthly payment around your disability rating and whether you have any dependents. The higher the disability rating is, the higher the level of compensation will likely be per month.
You may be eligible for increased compensation if any of the following are true of your physical condition:
- Your combined disability rating is 30 percent or higher, and you have a dependent spouse, child, or parent
- You lost a limb or suffer from a severe disability
- Your spouse also suffers from a serious disability
Certain circumstances may decrease what you are owed, such as:
- When you receive financial aid from other sources, such as military retirement pay or disability severance pay
- When you are detained in federal or state prison for 60 or more days following a felony conviction
What Is the Maximum Compensation a Veteran Can Get?
If you receive a disability rating of at least 10 percent, you are entitled to a minimum of $171.21 per month.
The maximum amount you may recover is $4,433.392 per month. This amount only applies if you have a 100 percent disability rating and have dependents who rely on you.
The amount of compensation you are eligible to receive can fall anywhere between these two ranges.
Applying for VA Disability Benefits for Physical Conditions
You may be eligible for disability benefits when you sustain an illness, injury, or disability because of your service. If you have a pre-existing condition that was aggravated by your service, you may also be entitled to benefits. To get VA disability benefits for a physical condition, you need to apply for those benefits.
What Evidence Is Needed?
Before you file your claim, you need to collect evidence of your injury, disability, or illness. The evidence necessary to prove your claim may include:
- Medical records and treatment at VA medical centers
- Any records of pre-existing conditions you had before military service
- Any private treatment you have obtained outside of the VA
- X-rays, MRIs, or other laboratory tests that prove you have a physical condition
How To Apply
To apply for VA disability benefits, you must first determine if you are eligible. Eligible members have served in active duty, inactive duty training, or active duty training.
You must also have a current injury or illness that occurred:
- While serving in the military
- As a result of a pre-existing condition that was aggravated by military service
- After active-duty service but as a result of your service
You will then submit a claim using Form 21-526EZ. The form requires a great deal of information, but the VA website now offers a walkthrough process to make it simpler to complete.
What To Expect From the Application Process
Once you submit your claim, you will have to await the results. The VA may request additional information to complete your application. If so, you will receive a letter that outlines the additional information that the VA is requesting and the next steps for your disability benefits claim. The VA may also ask you to attend an examination with an approved doctor as part of your application process.
The process can take a long time. As of January 2023, most claims took over 103 days to resolve. While you wait for your results, you should look in the mail for any requests or further directions about your claim.
Once your application is fully reviewed, the VA will decide your eligibility and assign a disability rating to your case.