The Torso and Neck Muscles
DBQ for Torso and Neck Muscles
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.
All muscle conditions of the torso and neck are either rated on the Slight to Severe Scale detailed.
Code 5319: This group controls the tightening and support of the abdomen and the support of the lower rib cage. These muscles allow the torso to bend forward (or do sit-ups/crunches) and lean to the sides.
Muscles/tendons: rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, transversalis, and quadratus lumborum.
Code 5320: These are the muscles that are located on either side of the spine. They are commonly called the paraspinal muscles. These muscles control the posture of the spine, and allow the back to bend to the sides and to the back.
Muscles/tendons: sacrospinalis and erector spinae.
Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Cervical and Thoracic regions: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 40%. Lumbar region: slight = 0%, moderate = 20%, moderately severe = 40%, and severe = 60%.
Code 5321: This group assists with breathing. These muscles expand the lungs to inhale and contract the lungs to exhale. They are located in between and around the ribs.
Muscles/tendons: thoracic muscle group.
The ratings for this group are just based on the Slight to Severe Scale: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 20%.
Code 5322: This group controls the forward, sideward and rotational movement of the head, swallowing, and breathing. (Muscles in Groups XX and XXIII control the backward movement of the head). The muscles in this group allow the head to rotate and bow forward. They also control the throat, allowing breathing and swallowing. They are located on the front and side of the neck.
Muscles/tendons: trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, hyoid muscles, sternothyroid, and digastric.
Code 5323: This group controls the backward movement of the head and helps stabilize shoulder movements. They are located on the back of the neck. These muscles work with the muscles in Group XXII to allow the head to move in all directions.
Muscles/tendons: suboccipital, lateral vertebral, and anterior vertebral.
Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%.
Principles that Apply
Combined Ratings for Muscle Injuries: A nerve rating in the neck, shoulder and arms cannot be combined with a muscle rating in the same area unless each condition affects completely different functions (i.e. the nerve condition affects the flexion and the muscle condition affects the extension). If more than one muscle group is injured in the torso and neck, then they must be combined as described in this principle.
Painful Motion: If pain is present with motion, then the minimum compensable rating (at least 10%) must be given.
Pyramiding: A single condition can only be rated once! However, if a nerve condition or other condition exists that is additional to the torso or neck 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.
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.