The Wrist

Topics:

Loss of Use/Amputation of the Wrist
Wrist Replacement
Wrist Limitation of Motion
Other Wrist Conditions
DBQ for Wrist 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.

Note: Hand and arm conditions may have higher ratings for the dominant hand. If you are right-handed, then your right hand/arm is dominant. If you are left-handed, then your left hand/arm is dominant. For the ambidextrous, the rating for the dominant hand will apply regardless of which hand is injured.

Double Note: If any forearm, wrist, or hand condition causes multiple fingers to have limited or impaired motion, then the fingers can be rated as a separate condition and combined with the forearm, wrist, or hand condition. Any combination, however, cannot total more than 70% for the dominant hand and 60% for the non-dominant hand.

 


Loss of Use/Amputation of the Wrist

Code 5214: If the wrist joint is frozen in place and cannot be moved, then it is rated depending on where it is frozen. If it is frozen in palmar flexion or in ulnar or radial deviation, then it is rated 50% for the dominant hand and 40% for the non-dominant. If it is frozen in dorsiflexion between 20° and 30°, then it is rated 30% for the dominant and 20% for the non-dominant. If it is frozen in any other place, it is rated 40% for the dominant and 30% for the non-dominant.

flexion of the wrist               flexion of the wrist

Code 5125: If the wrist is frozen so extremely that it cannot be used at all or is amputated, it is rated 70% for the dominant hand and 60% for the non-dominant hand.

Your condition may also qualify for additional compensation by the VA. Please see the Special Monthly Compensation page for more information.

Return to Top

 


Wrist Replacement

Code 5053: If the entire wrist joint has been replaced by a prosthesis (false joint), then the condition is rated 100% for the first year after being discharged from the hospital following the surgery (this period is mainly for the VA, but the DoD may also give this 1-year rating if the veteran is placed on TDRL before being permanently separated).

After the 1-year period, the condition is given a permanent rating. If there is weakness and severe pain with motion, then it is rated 40% for the dominant hand and 30% for the non-dominant hand. If the pain is not severe, but does limit the range of motion, then it is rated under the code 5215, discussed below. The minimum rating for a total wrist replacement, however, is 20% for either hand regardless of how much motion it has.

Note: This code is only for total wrist replacements. Partial replacements are rated on any symptoms that they cause, like limited motion.

Return to Top

 


Wrist Limitation of Motion

Code 5215: If the wrist is not frozen, but limited in motion, then it is rated under this code. A 10% rating is given in either hand if the dorsiflexion is less than 15° or if the palmar flexion is limited to 0°. No other rating is given for any other motion limitation.

flexion of the wrist

Return to Top

 


Other Wrist Conditions

All other wrist injuries or conditions will either be rated analogously (see the Analogous and Equivalent Codes page) with the above ratings 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 wrist, it is rated under code 5013 for osteoporosis. If the condition does not have an underlying disease, then rate it on the condition that best describes its symptoms.

Return to Top

 


DBQ for Wrist Conditions

Here is the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) used for wrist conditions: Wrist DBQ.

Return to Top

 


Principles that Apply

The Amputation Rule: Any ratings for the wrist and hand cannot be combined to be more than 70% for the dominant arm and 60% for the non-dominant arm.

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

Special Monthly Compensation: If your condition makes it impossible to grasp things with your fingers or hold things in your hand, you may qualify for the VA’s Special Monthly Compensation. You may also qualify if your hand has been amputated.

The Joints: When rating arthritis, the wrist is considered a major joint.

Pyramiding: A single condition can only be rated once! However, if a nerve condition exists that is additional to the wrist 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.

A Tie Goes to the Veteran: If there are two equally strong exams with conflicting information, or if the condition can be equally rated under two different codes, then the one that gives the highest rating will be assigned. Every conflict should be resolved in favor of the higher rating.

Accurate Measurements: It is essential that the necessary information to rate your condition is recorded by the physician in your exam. All ranges of motion should be measured with a goniometer. With the information on this page, you should know what needs to be measured and recorded. Make sure this happens correctly to ensure that you receive a proper rating.

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 Forearm and Hand Muscles page.

Return to Top

© 2013 MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com
website security
Military Disability Made Easy is a national website dedicated to helping
Disabled Veterans take control of their Military Disability. From the Medical Evaluation Board and Physical Evaluation Board
to the laws of the VASRD, Military Disability Made Easy can educate you on every aspect of DoD Disability and
VA Disability. Find all the answers you need to maximize your Military Disability Benefits and VA Disability Benefits today!
Follow Dr. George P. Johnson on Google+!