VA Compensation for Loss of Limbs
The Veterans Administration (VA) uses a sliding percentage scale from 0 to 100 to determine the amount of benefits they will pay toward a particular disorder, injury or illness incurred while on active duty. The higher the percentage, the more severe the injury. The VA ranks disabilities in increments of 10 (0%, 10%, 20% and so on.)
Despite medical advances in surgical repair and prosthetics, the veteran may never recover function. The VA defines amputation as either traumatic amputation or amputation by surgical removal, and they define loss of use as no remaining function in the limb. The VA provides additional monthly benefits in cases of specific injuries including hand or foot amputation, or amputation above the knee or elbow. Additionally, the same considerations are given for a paralyzed limb or a joint that has been immobilized because of injury.
Therefore, if you’ve suffered an amputation, your benefits may include both regular VA disability loss of limbs benefits as well as the benefits known as Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). Regarding amputation, the VA rules and ratings are very complex.
Certainly, amputations have very high VA rankings, but the ratings are complex. For example, you may obtain a higher rating if your amputation was in your dominant hand. The VA has a standard amputation questionnaire called the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) that must be filled out and must accompany your application for disability.
For arm amputations, the VA will rank from 70 to 90 percent based on details regarding the amputation:
• 90% for amputation of entire arm from the shoulder down, either arm
• 90% for amputation below the shoulder but above the deltoid, in the dominant arm (80% for the non-dominant arm)
• 80% for amputation below the deltoid but above the elbow for the dominant arm (70% for the non-dominant arm)
• 80% for amputation above the pronator teres, for the dominant arm (70% for the non-dominant arm)
• 70% for dominant arm amputation below the insertion of the pronator teres (60% for non-dominant)
• 70% for hand amputation with no arm function (60% for non-dominant)
• 100% for loss of both hands
The VA has similar rankings for the legs and feet:
• 90% for amputation of the leg at the hip
• 80% for amputation at the upper thigh
• 60% for amputation at the mid- to lower thigh
• 60% in cases where a second amputation has been required due to complications from the first amputation
• 60% for amputations that render the knee joint unusable
• 40% for amputation below the knee
• 40% for amputation that renders the foot or ankly unusable
• 100% of both feet have been amputated
• 10% to 40% various rankings for differing levels of foot amputation
In cases where a veteran has suffered both foot and hand or leg and arm amputations, ratings are almost always certainly 100%. There are also special cases that the VA will consider a de facto amputation, such as cases in which the jaw has been removed or several ribs have been removed due to injuries incurred.
Furthermore, if your amputation has required extensive periods of hospitalization or convalescence, or currently requires constant ongoing medical care such as at-home nursing care, you will likely be rated at 100%. If your hospitalization and at-home care were to change, you would continue at the 100% rating for a typical period of three months. Having said that, the VA will also consider a different period of time, such as six months or one year, under extenuating circumstances. Once you’re recovered, the ratings authorities will re-rate your disability.
Per VA rules, a condition can only be rated for disability once, but if you have a separate condition not related to or caused by the amputation, the other condition can also be rated for “stacking” benefits. The multiple disabilities are ranked by severity, but they are not additive. For example, if you have one disability that ranks at 70% and another at 30%, that does not mean you will receive a 100% rating. Instead, the VA maintains a list called the Combined Ratings Table that is used to calculate cases of multiple injuries. Combined values are rounded to the nearest 10%.
VA rules can be complex and hard to navigate. Our law firm proudly represents many U.S. veterans to help get them the disability compensation they deserve for so valiantly and selflessly serving our country. We will work hard to ensure that if you’ve suffered a service-related amputation or loss-of-limb-use injury, you get the benefits you’re entitled to. Our attorneys will help you ever step of the way, from the initial questionnaire to the filing of your claim and beyond. We will help you address any challenges the VA may pose and help you fight any low disability ratings that are initially awarded. You’ve made the ultimate sacrifice, and in the process, lost a limb. Now let us fight for you.