Veterans Disability for Pes Planus (Flat Feet)

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If you suffer from foot problems related to having flat feet, you understand how difficult it can be to work and perform daily activities. The pain can become overwhelming and prevent you from engaging in normal day-to-day life. Unfortunately, thousands of veterans struggle with pes planus and plantar fasciitis as a result of their military service.

At VetLaw, we work with veterans across the United States to build a strong case for flat feet VA disability benefits, increase their flat feet VA rating, and successfully appeal unfairly denied claims. To learn more about how our team of experienced attorneys can help, consider contacting us today.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Flat Feet?

Having flat feet is a condition where one or both feet have no arches or arches that are very low. This can cause the feet to lie fully flat, with the pads of the feet pressing into the ground. This can prevent proper posture and result in pain, swelling, stiffness, and overall discomfort. Pes planus is the medical terminology for flat feet, and a person with bilateral pes planus is affected in both feet. Some common symptoms of pes planus include the following:

  • Leg cramps
  • Muscle pain, aching, or fatigue in the leg and foot
  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the ankle, heel, or arch of the foot
  • Difficulty moving your foot in certain ways
  • Pain in the legs and back

Pes planus can develop for several reasons. In some cases, flat feet are genetic and run in a family. In other situations, certain health issues can increase your risk of flat feet, including injuries to the Achilles tendon, diabetes, broken bones, obesity, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and high blood pressure.

Some individuals suffer from pes planus combined with plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when the plantar fascia – a tissue on the foot used during walking and movement – becomes inflamed. Oftentimes, plantar fasciitis develops as a consequence of having flat feet. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis may vary from person to person, with some of the most common signs of this condition being:

  • Shooting pain in the foot
  • Swelling around the heel
  • Tightness in the Achilles tendon
  • Pain that worsens in the morning or when standing

There are several ways that a person can develop plantar fasciitis. Having pes planus is one common cause of plantar fasciitis. Consistent work or exercise on hard surfaces, prolonged use of poor-fitting shoes, and repeated exercise without stretching can also lead to plantar fasciitis. Between strenuous physical activity and hours spent standing on tough terrain, veterans are at a high risk of developing issues with their feet due to their time in the service.

Does the VA Consider Flat Feet to Be a Disability?

Yes, the VA does consider flat feet to be a disability. To qualify for flat feet VA disability benefits, you must prove that you have been diagnosed with pes planus, bilateral pes planus, or pes planus with plantar fasciitis, and establish that an in-service incident or stressor was the cause of your condition. This connection, known as a nexus, is extremely important to your case. If you cannot prove that your condition is directly linked to your time in the service, you may be denied benefits.

To establish the nexus between your condition and military service, you must provide a sufficient amount of evidence that supports your claim. This evidence can include:

  • Service medical records and service personnel records
  • Private and VA medical reports
  • C&P Examinations
  • Employment records
  • Lay statements and buddy statements

The evidence you provide in your claim will be used to determine your flat feet VA rating and whether or not you qualify for disability benefits. Your attorney can provide greater insight into how this process works and the type of evidence that may be beneficial in your unique case.

What Is the VA Rating for Pes Planus (Flat Feet)?

All flat feet VA ratings are evaluated against 38 C.F.R § 4.71a. According to Diagnostic Code 5276, your flat feet VA rating will be between 0% and 50% depending on the severity of your condition. Specifically, the VA ratings for pes planus are determined based on the following criteria:

  • Mild symptoms that are relieved with proper footwear will receive a 0% rating.
  • Moderate symptoms in which the veteran bears their weight primarily over the big toe rather than their entire whole foot, their Achilles tendon bends inward, and they experience pain when using the foot will receive a 10% rating. This rating is the same for both lateral and bilateral pes planus.
  • Severe symptoms in one foot, marked by foot deformity, accentuated pain, swelling, and callosities, will receive a 20% rating. This rating will increase to 30% in cases of bilateral pes planus with severe symptoms.
  • Pronounced symptoms in one foot, characterized by extreme tenderness in the plantar area and extreme inward displacement/ spasming of the Achilles tendon that is not relieved by proper footwear will receive a 30% rating. This rating will increase to 50% in cases of bilateral pes planus with pronounced symptoms.

The VA rating for plantar fasciitis varies and is determined using Diagnostic Code 5269. The ratings for this condition are assigned as follows:

  • 10% rating for plantar fasciitis in one or both feet and is responsive to treatment.
  • 20% rating for unilateral plantar fasciitis that cannot be treated.
  • 30% rating for bilateral plantar fasciitis that cannot be treated.
  • 40% rating for plantar fasciitis that results in the inability to use the foot.

Veterans who suffer from bilateral pes planus combined with plantar fasciitis may be eligible to receive a pes planus VA rating of 50% and an additional 30% for their plantar fasciitis.

What If the VA Denies Your Claim for Pes Planus?

It is not uncommon for the VA to deny a veteran’s claim for pes planus. If you have been denied flat feet VA disability benefits, you may appeal the denial using one of the VA’s three appeal options:

  • Filing a Supplemental Claim to submit additional evidence that may alter the decision.
  • Requesting a Higher-Level Review to ask a senior reviewer to reassess your case.
  • Appealing with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to include new evidence, requesting a review, or scheduling a hearing with a Veterans’ Law Judge.

The appeal option that you utilize will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. The right appeal strategy will optimize your chance of success and help you secure benefits as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Hiring an Attorney Near You to Help With Your VA Disability Appeal for Pes Planus

Your claim for flat feet VA disability benefits may have been denied for a range of reasons. Perhaps a nexus between your condition and your military service cannot be established, or maybe the evidence you provided in your claim was not sufficient to receive more than a 0% pes planus VA rating. At VetLaw, we work alongside veterans to understand why their claim was denied and craft a legal strategy that will help them secure the benefits they need and deserve. Consider contacting us today to schedule your free case review and learn more about how we can help win your case.