The Elbow and Forearm
Elbow and Forearm Overview
The VA awards disability compensation for each Elbow and Forearm condition that is service-connected. The DoD will also rate service-connected conditions as long as they also make the service member Unfit for Duty. For Reservists, the condition must have occurred in or resulted from an injury in the Line of Duty to qualify.
The Musculoskeletal System is vast and complex, consisting of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones. Thus, a single injury to the elbow and/or forearm can cause multiple issues. Because of this complexity, the VA simplified the rating system for musculoskeletal conditions to focus on the resulting disability from a condition or group of conditions existing in the same body part.
To honor the Pyramiding Principle, only a single rating can be given for conditions of the Elbow and Forearm with a few exceptions. If a nerve condition also exists in the Elbow and Forearm, then that can be rated separately under one of the Upper Nerve codes since the Nervous System is separate and distinct. Other exceptions, if any, are noted in specific rating codes found on the Elbow and Forearm Condition Ratings page.
Muscles do have their own rating system (see the Forearm and Hand Muscles page), but cannot be rated in addition to another musculoskeletal rating for the Elbow and Forearm since they often result in similar symptoms (limitation of motion, etc.).
Elbow and Forearm Ratings
The VASRD offers ratings for the following musculoskeletal conditions of the Elbow and Forearm:
- Loss of Use/Amputation of the Elbow
- Elbow Replacements
- Limitation of Motion of the Elbow
- Limitation of Motion of the Forearm
- Too Much Motion or Instability
- Musculoskeletal Diseases
- Injuries to the Bones of the Elbow and Forearm
In reality, the majority of Elbow and Forearm conditions will be rated on limitation of motion since that is the most common symptom of these conditions that results in a measurable disability, but other rating options exist to rate the Elbow and Forearm conditions that cause other forms of disability.
If a condition is not directly listed, it is rated under the code that best describes it or its dominant symptom (hint: the majority will be rated as limitation of motion).
In addition to or instead of the standard disability compensation for Elbow and Forearm conditions, amputations or loss of use of the Elbow and Forearm may also qualify for Special Monthly Compensation.