Today, we will explain how to file a winning VA claim for sciatica. Sciatica is a specific type of radiculopathy, and it is the #7 most common VA disability. Sciatica pain will have a severe impact on your quality of life, and it is important that you pursue a VA rating for it.
Many veterans have radiculopathy (a “pinched nerve”) because of neck and back injuries. However, the sciatica is the largest nerve in the body, and it earned its own disability rating because of the severe impact it can have on veterans. In short, a back injury causes a portion of your spine to compress the sciatic nerve. As a result, the veteran will experience severe pain and even paralysis in one or both legs.
Veterans with a VA claim for sciatica can experience a variety of symptoms. However, these symptoms likely include: numbness, a burning sensation, pain, weakness, bone spurs, paralysis (partial or complete), and a loss of mobility.
What Codes Are Used to Rate Sciatica In A VA Claim?
There are three primary diagnostic codes used to rate your VA claim for sciatica. These are: neuralgia (sharp pain that follows the nerve), neuritis (inflammation of the nerve), and paralysis.
VA Claim For Sciatic Nerve Paralysis (Most Severe)
Paralysis (Diagnostic code 8520) is the most severe form of sciatica, and the VA rates it as high as 80% when the veteran is experiencing a complete failure of the muscles below the knee. However, the VA also rates this disability at 10% (mild paralysis), 20% (moderate), or 40% (severe). In addition, the VA rates limitation of function and muscle atrophy at 60%.
VA Claim for Sciatic Nerve Neuritis (Severe)
The VA rates claims for sciatica neuritis (diagnostic code 8620) at 10% (mild), 20% (moderate), or 40% (severe).
VA Claim for Sciatic Nerve Neuralgia (Least Severe)
The VA rates claims for sciatica neuralgia (diagnostic code 8720) at 10% for mild pain, but 20% with moderate pain or trouble using the affected body part.
File A Winning VA Claim for Sciatica
When you file your VA claim for sciatica you will need three key things:
A Current Disability Diagnosis
It is important that you routinely seek care for all disabilities. Thankfully, that is also your first step toward filing a successful VA claim for sciatica. You must have current documentation that states you have a sciatica diagnosis. As a result, your VA claim for sciatica will fail if you do not have a diagnosis.
You will need to spend some time looking through your “C-File” (military medical records), and studying your medical history. You need to prove that this VA claim for sciatica started on active duty. However, the VA also awards disability for sciatica as a secondary condition to service-connected back injuries. As a result, you can also be rated for sciatica pain that started after you separated. However, it will be your responsibility to prove your back injury aggravated the sciatica.
Nexus – The Toughest Part Of A VA Claim for Sciatica
Your last step in winning your VA claim for sciatica is the toughest. You must prove that your current diagnosis of sciatica is the same sciatica you suffered with on active duty. I was still on active duty when I filed my VA disability claim, and that gave proof of nexus. However, most veterans wait several years before they file, and it can be difficult to prove the nexus of your disability. In short, you may prove nexus through showing continual care, but you can also use a nexus letter. If you have been out of the military for some time; you will probably need a nexus letter.
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