Many Veterans suffer from chronic back pain from a traumatic event while on active duty. These conditions can be disabling and may even require a lifelong disability rating. A key element of a service connection claim for back problems is establishing a medical nexus between the current pain and an in-service injury or illness. This requires the assistance of a qualified and experienced attorney.
Establish a Gap in Medical Treatment
Back pain can be a serious problem for veterans. It can prevent them from maintaining steady employment and interfere with their day-to-day activities. Many veterans seek compensation from the VA for their disabling back conditions. A VA-accredited attorney can help you make the essential connection between your back condition and your time in service to qualify for disability benefits. The law firm can also assist with obtaining additional ratings for secondary infections caused by your back pain, such as TDIU (Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability). It may be necessary to present evidence that a particular event from military service contributed to your back injury, such as a notation in medical records, an injury report, or a statement from a coworker describing the incident. It is also possible to file a claim when your back condition worsens and qualify for an increased disability rating. In these cases, it is important to provide new information as evidence, such as a further Compensation and pension exam or a letter from your physician.
Submit an Appeal
If you’ve been denied service connection for back pain or received a low rating after your Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam, an attorney can help file an appeal. The VA’s claim process requires establishing a link, or nexus, between your time in military service and your current back pain. This element is sometimes challenging, particularly if your back pain is not connected to an in-service event like an injury or illness. But, by working closely with a knowledgeable veterans’ benefits attorney, you can develop a strategy to maximize VA benefits for back pain, ensuring you receive the support and care you need. An attorney can help you obtain VA, private, or medical expert reports that support your claim and prove your back pain is related to your military service. If your back pain is severe enough to prevent you from working, you may qualify for a disability rating of up to 100%. This rating is called total disability based on individual unemployability, or TDIU. For many veterans, this is enough to live comfortably and maintain a steady income. An experienced VA disability lawyer can help you win this rating for your back pain.
Establish a Connection Between Your Time in Service and Your Current Health
Many veterans have pain related to their time in service but do not have a diagnosis for it. In these cases, veterans can file a claim for a secondary service connection. To establish a secondary service connection, veterans must demonstrate that their back condition results from something that occurred during military service. They also need to show that the situation is affecting their life significantly and that they can’t manage it alone.
Mike: For example, in one case we worked on, the Veteran was rated for a back disability that he developed after his service separation examination in 1985. He never had a diagnosis of a back injury before this date.
The underlying issue was that no nexus was established between his workplace fall in 1985 and his back problem. He also didn’t have evidence of an ongoing problem after his separation from service.
Document Your Symptoms
Many veterans with back pain are denied a disability rating because their condition has not been documented thoroughly enough. This is why it’s critical to have VA, military or private medical records that support when your back injury started and how it has worsened over time. Also important are statements from friends, family or fellow service members describing the symptoms you are experiencing. During a C&P examination, the examiner will look at your range of motion for both your neck (cervical spine) and your back (thoracolumbar spine). This is because your ability to move your body will determine your rating. The higher your rating, the more you will be compensated. You may also be eligible for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU), a type of 100% permanent and total disability that pays you if your condition prevents you from working in any job. TDIU is often awarded for secondary infections that result from or cause back problems.