Serving in the United States military often places great strain on a person’s body. Specifically, a person’s time on active duty service can cause structural damage to their joints and cartilage. This stress can lead to arthritis that affects a veteran’s mobility and can leave them in chronic pain.

Former servicemembers who are able to connect their arthritis diagnoses to their time spent on active duty may be able to collect benefits through the disability compensation program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A lawyer from our firm can give you advice on pursuing an arthritis claim and help you establish a connection between your time spent on active duty and your diagnosis.

Connection to Active Duty Service

One essential part of a claim for VA disability compensation benefits is connecting a veteran’s arthritis to their active duty service. An applicant must establish the cause of their condition and why serving on active duty led to it.

According to Mayo Clinic, arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of a joint. Typically, this is the result of a traumatic injury or wear and tear on a joint from intensive physical activity.

Active duty military service requires repetitive and strenuous physical activity at all levels in all branches. It follows that veterans who suffer from arthritic joints after being discharged from the military under honorable conditions may be entitled to disability benefits from the VA.

Impact of an Arthritis Diagnosis

Arthritis is a serious medical condition that can affect every aspect of a veteran’s life. At the superficial level, the wearing down of cartilage in joints could lead to chronic pain and a loss of mobility. This condition and its impact on a former servicemember’s life could also result in emotional trauma that affects their mental health. Additionally, arthritis is a nonreversible condition that even surgery may be unable to correct. Most often, doctors can only recommend pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs as a way to reduce swelling.

Demonstrating the extent of these symptoms is vital to any veteran’s arthritis claim. Applicants for benefits must provide evidence of a medically identifiable conditions and demonstrate how it affects their lives. Once a veteran produces this evidence, VA will assign a disability rating based on the severity of their symptoms and their level of impairment.

Additionally, veterans who receive an arthritis diagnosis within one year of discharge may automatically qualify for disability compensation based on a presumptive service-condition. Otherwise, it will be necessary to point to specific events which took place during active duty to prove entitlement to service-connection.

The general rating schedule for arthritis can result in a disability of either 10 or 20 percent, depending on the number of joints affected. However, in most cases, the joints can be rated under the rating schedule for individual joints instead of the general rating schedule for arthritis. Choosing to have the individual joints rated separately generally results in a much higher overall rating. Consulting with a VA-accredited attorney can make demonstrating the extent of a service-connected injury much easier.

Ask an Attorney about Arthritis Claims

Arthritis is a common condition among former members of the United States military. VetLaw’s team of attorneys can advise you on gathering essential medical records, the law that governs these applications, and submitting evidence. We can also attend appellate hearings to give you a better chance at receiving disability benefits after receiving one or more denials. Contact our firm today to discuss pursuing arthritis claims.

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