VA Disability Rating for Flatfeet

Flatfeet is a common condition experienced by many U.S. veterans. People with flatfeet may have difficulty walking, running, or performing other activities using their legs. Extreme pain or swelling in the feet and ankles may occur, especially after sustained activity. If you can show your condition is connected to military service, you may obtain a flatfeet VA disability rating that allows you to collect compensation. Contact Veterans Guide for more information.

Key Takeaways
  • Flat feet (pes planus) are rated by the VA from 0% to 50%, based on severity and impact on functionality.
  • Ratings criteria include the presence of pain, marked deformity, extent of pronation, and tenderness.
  • The highest possible rating of 50% is assigned for conditions involving extreme bilateral pronation, pain, and tenderness.

As a member of the U.S. military, you honorably dedicated years or even decades of your life to serving your country. However, your military service comes with risks of developing disabling physical or mental health conditions.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs recognizes that military service often comes at a cost to service members. Veterans who prove their disabilities arose during active service or occurred during training can claim VA disability benefits, which provide monthly payments.

The VA recognizes flatfeet as one of those potentially disabling conditions that may arise from military service. Veterans with flatfeet may be entitled to apply for a VA disability rating and qualify for disability compensation.

Veterans and Flatfeet

Flatfeet, clinically referred to as pes planus, is a condition that can develop in childhood or as a result of trauma to the foot. People with the condition lack an arch to the foot, so the entire sole touches the ground when they stand.  

In some cases, the condition is entirely painless. However, others experience severe pain, especially when engaging in activities that put extreme pressure on the foot. 

Service members may develop the condition after experiencing trauma to the foot during active duty or training. Flatfeet can also occur from repetitive wear and tear to the tendons connecting the ankle and supporting the foot’s arch. Excessive running or standing for long periods can also exacerbate the condition.

Risk factors for flatfeet include foot or ankle injuries, diabetes, obesity, natural aging, and rheumatoid arthritis. Service members who experience flatfeet typically develop the condition from a specific injury or overuse during their service.

If you’re a veteran or current service member experiencing foot or ankle pain, and you don’t yet have a flatfeet diagnosis, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Foot pain while walking, running, or performing other activities when standing up
  • Changes to your natural gait
  • Cramps in your lower legs
  • Muscle spasms in the arch, heel, ankle, or outside of the foot
  • Toes that point outward from the foot

Schedule an appointment at your local VA medical center, with a podiatrist, or with your primary care doctor immediately if you notice symptoms of flatfeet.

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How Does the VA Rate Flatfeet?

The VA has specific disability ratings for flatfeet under the schedule of ratings for the musculoskeletal conditions. Service members diagnosed with the condition receive a rating between 0 and 50 percent, although no 40 percent rating is available. The ratings vary according to the following criteria. To see how much each rating pays based off your circumstance see the VA disability rating chart.

Rating of 0 Percent

Symptoms of the condition are alleviated with orthopedic devices, such as additional arch support. People with a 0 percent rating aren’t eligible for VA compensation.

Rating of 10 Percent

To qualify for this rating, the veteran experiences pain when manipulating or using their feet. There may be inward bowing of the Achilles tendon and a weight-bearing line over or centering on the big toe. Service members who qualify for a 10 percent rating may experience symptoms in one or both feet.

Rating of 20 Percent

A 20 percent disability rating applies to service members who demonstrate marked deformity of one foot that results in pain when abducted or pronated. Other symptoms include swelling when using the foot and the existence of callosities common in flatfeet.

Rating of 30 Percent

A service member demonstrating marked deformity in the foot’s pronation or abduction may qualify for a 30 percent disability rating if the condition occurs in both feet. Other characteristics of flatfeet that qualify a veteran for this rating include excessive pain and swelling during activities involving the feet.

Rating of 50 Percent

A 50 percent disability rating for flatfeet is the highest available. To qualify, the service member must show extreme pronation and tenderness of the bottom of the foot. There will be a demonstrable inward displacement of the Achilles tendon when the foot moves or twists. People who qualify for the 50 percent rating must have the condition in both feet. If only one foot is affected, the VA applies a lower rating of 30 percent.

TDIU and Flatfeet

Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability, or TDIU, is available for veterans who can’t work due to medical conditions. A TDIU rating allows you to receive benefits for a 100 percent disability rating even if your condition is not rated that high. 

Veterans with a single disability rating of 60 percent or a combination of disabilities of at least 70 percent qualify for TDIU. If you have a mix of disabilities, at least one of those conditions must have a rating of 40 percent.  

Since the maximum disability rating for flatfeet is 50 percent, service members with the condition will need a mix of disabilities—one rated at least 40 percent—and a total disability rating of at least 70 percent to qualify for TDIU.

To qualify for TDIU, veterans must demonstrate their service-related disabilities prevent them from working. Evidence of frequent hospitalizations or inability to perform work duties due to their condition can support a veteran’s claims for TDIU. The VA will evaluate their prior employment activities, training, and education when determining whether their disabilities prevent them from gainful employment.

Flatfeet as a Secondary Disability

Flatfeet can be tied to other military-connected medical conditions. Veterans who show that their flatfeet were caused by a previously diagnosed service-connected condition or worsened from military service can apply for a secondary disability rating.

In addition, other conditions may stem from your service-connected flatfeet. If you can’t obtain the maximum 50 percent rating for flatfeet, you may increase your rating if you have a related secondary condition. Pay attention to symptoms that may indicate additional medical problems, such as back or knee pain.

Other Conditions Linked to Flatfeet

Some of the most common conditions related to flatfeet include the following:

Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or a specialist if you notice symptoms of other conditions associated with flatfeet.

Aggravation of Pre-Service Disability for Flatfeet

Some people who join the military already have flatfeet they developed during childhood or adolescence. However, having flatfeet is not a disqualifier for military service unless your condition is symptomatic. Thus, if you can show you joined the armed services with flatfeet and that your time in service led to the condition becoming symptomatic or aggravated, you can still qualify for VA disability compensation. 

Under 38 U.S.C. 1153, a preexisting condition is aggravated when there is an increase in symptoms associated with the disability during the veteran’s time in service, and the symptoms are not considered a natural progression of the condition. 

The key to qualifying for disability benefits if you already had flatfeet when you joined the military is documentation of new symptoms. You’ll want to ensure you see a qualified doctor as soon as you notice new symptoms so that they can include them in your medical records.

How To Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Flatfeet?

If you believe you have flatfeet, scheduling an appointment with a podiatrist is essential. A podiatrist will examine your feet and gait to determine your condition’s seriousness. They may perform X-rays or other examinations to check for foot deformities or other issues.

If your podiatrist determines you have flatfeet, you must undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam at your local VA facility. Your C&P examiner will complete a disability questionnaire that helps the VA determine your disability rating. It helps to review the contents of the questionnaire so that you know what to expect during your examination. You should bring a copy of all your medical records related to your flatfeet to your C&P exam for the examiner to review.

The examiner will evaluate the tenderness of your foot and the pain you’re experiencing due to your condition. They may order X-rays or other diagnostic tests to further understand the severity of your flatfeet.

If you have additional questions concerning VA disability compensation for flatfeet, contact the team at Veterans Guide.

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