The Ribs


Rib Condition Ratings
Other Rib Conditions
Principles that Apply

Reminder: The VA will give a Military Disability Rating for each service-connected condition a service member has, but the DoD will only rate service-connected conditions that make a service member Unfit for Duty.


Rib Condition Ratings

Ratings are only given for rib conditions if the ribs or parts of them have been removed. There is only one code for rating ribs:

Code 5297: If only a small portion of the bone is removed (called a rib resection) in two or more ribs, or if one rib has been completely removed, the rating is 10%. A 20% rating is given for the complete removal of two ribs; 30% for three or four ribs; 40% for five or six; and 50% for more than six.

A rating under this code CANNOT be used in addition to ratings for the following:

If a resection is done on a rib in order to fill unwanted space because of lung collapse or the like, then it is rated as a full rib removal. So, if 3 ribs have a piece taken out, then the rating would be 30% as though the entire 3 ribs were completely removed. In these cases only, a rating under this code CAN be used with ratings for lung collapse, lobectomy, pneumonectomy, or pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Other Rib Conditions

All other rib bone injuries or conditions will either be rated analogously (see the Analogous and Equivalent Codes page) with the above rating or on the condition itself. The bottom line rule is to rate any condition under the code that BEST describes it, even if it is not exact. So, if you have osteoporosis that affects the ribs, search in the database for osteoporosis and then rate the condition appropriately. If the condition is a broken bone that didn’t heal properly, then it will most likely be rated analogously with 5297, above.

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Principles that Apply

Painful Motion: If pain is present with motion, then the minimum rating must be given.

Pyramiding: A single condition can only be rated once! However, if a lung condition or other condition exists that is additional to the rib condition (not simply caused by it), then it can also be rated.

Probative Value: If two exams record the condition differently, the exam with the most thorough data and performed by the most qualified person in that specialty will be the exam the rating is based on.

Hospital or Convalescent Ratings: Some conditions require periods of hospitalization or constant medical care (at-home nurse, etc.). Any condition that requires this is rated 100% during this intensive treatment. Once it ends, then the 100% rating will continue for a certain period. This period is 3 months unless another length (6 months, 1 year, etc.) is directly specified in the condition ratings. Some patients may need more time to recover than others, so the physician or Rating Authorities can lengthen this time period if they see fit.

Please see the Musculoskeletal Principles and the VASRD Principles pages for further guidance.

For muscle conditions, see The Torso and Neck Muscles page.

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