Knee injuries are common for many who have served in the military.
The intense training, heavy equipment, and demanding activities can lead to various knee conditions.
In this article, we’ll explore how the VA rates these knee injuries, what secondary conditions mean for your compensation, and other essential details to help you navigate your benefits.
Which Knee Conditions Might Qualify a Veteran For VA Disability Benefits?
As mentioned above, obtaining VA disability benefits for knee pain can be challenging.
However, while reported knee pain may not be enough to qualify a veteran for benefits, there are some knee conditions that can.
If you have a condition that leads to knee pain, the next step is to prove that the issue resulted from military service.
You will need to prove service connection. Learn more about service-connection here.
VA Ratings for Knee Conditions
The VA uses a special system to decide how much compensation you get for a knee injury.
They look at how much your knee injury affects what you can do, like walking or bending your knee.
The more your knee injury impacts your life, the higher your rating and compensation.
VA Rating Chart for Common Knee Conditions
|Complete removal of kneecap
|Knee is completely immobile
|Partial removal of kneecap
|Impairment of collateral ligaments
|Impairment of capsular ligament
|Impairment of anterior cruciate ligament
|Impairment of posterior cruciate ligament
|Arthritis in the knee joint
|10% or 20%
|Other problems with the knee meniscus
|Knee doesn’t bend or straighten fully
|Knee frequently partially dislocates
|Other problems with the knee joint
|10% or 20%
|Dislocated knee cartilage
|Surgical removal of knee cartilage
|Impairment of kneecap
Rating decisions for one disability can be complicated.
The general rule regarding multiple ratings for the same disability is, “the evaluation of the same disability under various diagnoses is to be avoided.”
However, VA regulations specifically provide that the knee joint can be evaluated under multiple diagnostic codes where there are different manifestations of the same disability.
So, as long as the knee disability affects you in separate and distinct ways, you can receive multiple ratings.
Increase Your Compensation with Secondary Conditions
When dealing with knee injuries, it’s essential to consider not just the primary injury, but also secondary conditions.
These are additional health issues that arise as a direct result of your primary knee injury.
Understanding and identifying these conditions can significantly increase your VA compensation, as they add to the overall impact the injury has on your life.
Extensive List of Secondary Conditions Related to Knee Injuries:
- Back Pain: Altered walking due to knee pain can lead to lower back issues.
- Hip Problems: Compensating for a bad knee often puts extra strain on the hips.
- Ankle and Foot Disorders: Change in gait can result in ankle and foot problems.
- Degenerative Arthritis: Excessive wear and tear from a knee injury can lead to arthritis in other joints.
- Muscle Weakness: Reduced activity due to knee pain can cause muscle weakening in the affected leg.
- Nerve Damage: Severe knee injuries can sometimes affect nearby nerves.
- Mental Health Conditions: Chronic pain from knee injuries can lead to depression or anxiety.
How Secondary Conditions Affect Compensation
Each secondary condition adds to the overall disability rating, potentially leading to higher compensation.
The VA considers the combined effect of your knee injury and secondary conditions on your daily life, offering a more comprehensive compensation package.
Documenting Secondary Conditions:
- Medical Evidence: Always back up secondary condition claims with medical records and doctor’s opinions.
- Consistent Reporting: Regularly update your healthcare provider about new or worsening symptoms related to secondary conditions.
- Connection to Primary Injury: Clearly demonstrate how each secondary condition is a result of your primary knee injury.
By acknowledging and documenting these secondary conditions, you ensure a more accurate assessment of your disability, which can lead to increased VA benefits.
Remember, it’s not just about the primary injury but the full scope of how it affects your health and daily life.
Hospitalization for Knee Pain and Temporary Ratings
The only time a temporary rating for knee pain is given is when a total knee replacement is performed.
After total knee replacement surgery, there is an automatic 100% disability rating for one year.
After that year has lapsed, veterans will require additional tests for knee flexion, extension, and instability.
The results of these tests will determine the ongoing rating. If there are any additional problems, it is possible to receive a disability rating of up to 60%.
TDIU for Knee Pain
On its own, knee pain will not qualify you for TDIU. As mentioned above, the only time knee pain qualifies for a 100% disability rating is following total knee replacement surgery.
However, if you already have at least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more, or two or more disabilities for a combined total rating of 70% or more, and you can’t hold down a job due to knee pain, you may qualify for TDIU.
Read more about TDIU in our guide below.
Preparing for and Understanding the Knee Condition C&P Exam
The Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam is a critical step in your VA claim process, especially for knee conditions.
This exam evaluates the extent of your injury and its impact on your life.
Proper preparation and understanding of what to expect can greatly influence the outcome of your claim.
Key Preparation Steps
- Gather Medical Records: Compile all relevant medical documents related to your knee injury, including reports from your primary doctor, orthopedic specialist, physical therapist, etc.
- Document Daily Impact: Keep a daily log of how your knee condition affects your routine activities. Note instances of pain, stiffness, or inability to perform certain tasks.
- List Secondary Conditions: Identify and record any secondary health issues caused by your knee injury, as these can contribute to your overall disability rating.
- Understand the Range of Motion Testing: Familiarize yourself with the range of motion tests that are likely to be part of the exam. These tests measure how far you can bend and straighten your knee.
- Prepare for Questioning: Be ready to answer questions about your military service, the onset of your knee condition, pain levels, and how the injury impacts your daily life. Ensure these records detail the history, treatment, and current status of your knee condition. Include details about any assistive devices used, like braces or canes.
Tips During the Exam
- Honesty is Key: Be completely honest about your pain and limitations. Understating your condition can result in a lower disability rating.
- Be Specific: Provide specific examples of how your knee condition affects your daily activities. Vague responses can lead to an incomplete evaluation.
- Demonstrate Limitations: If asked to perform movements, do so to the best of your ability, but don’t push beyond your limits. Showing the examiner your actual limitations is crucial.
- Discuss Secondary Conditions: Mention any secondary issues related to your knee injury. The examiner needs to understand the full scope of your disability.
If you remember additional information after the exam that could impact your claim, contact your VA representative to include this in your record.
Once the C&P exam report is available, review it for accuracy.
If there are errors or omissions, inform your VA representative.
Preparing thoroughly for your C&P exam and understanding what to expect can make a significant difference in the evaluation of your knee condition.
Want to learn more about C&P Exams? Read our comprehensive guide below.
We are sorry that this post was not as useful for you!
Help us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?