Recently, we’ve had some questions about conditions that have healed or been cured. Why won’t the VA give VA Disability Ratings for them?
The military disability system only gives compensation for disabilities, and by definition, disabilities are physical or mental conditions that limit the functioning of the body or mind. Conditions that have fully healed do not limit the body’s ability to function at all, and thus are not disabilities.
The whole point of DoD Disability and VA Disability is to compensate the veteran for any loss of income they have because of their disability. Without a disability, their ability to work is not impeded and so there is nothing to compensate.
So, if Bill breaks his leg and has surgery while in the military, but it heals completely and does not limit him at all, then he will receive no compensation for that condition. If, however, he heals some, but continues to have limited motion in the knee, then the limited knee function can receive a military disability rating.
Military Disability focuses on the ability of the body to fully function at a given point in time. The DoD rates conditions based on their severity at the time of separation from the military. In Bill’s case, his knee would be rated by the DoD based on the amount of limited motion present at the time of discharge.
The VA, however, rates a veteran’s condition based on its severity at the time the veteran submits their claim and will update the ratings over time if the condition changes. So if Bill’s range of motion originally rated 20% but continued to worsen over time, Bill could submit a claim for an increased evaluation and have the rating increased.
On the other hand, if Bill’s knee improved over time until he regained full range of motion, then the VA would lower his rating to 0%. No disability = No compensation.
There are a few circumstances in which the VA will not lower a rating. If the condition is considered permanent, the VA will not have it re-evaluated. The VA will also rarely re-evaluate veterans over the age of 55 unless they submit for an increased evaluation.
While the prospect of losing your benefits is never pleasant, the system is designed to ensure that those who truly need these benefits are properly compensated.