Disability for Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System
The VA awards disability compensation for all Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System that are service-connected. The DoD will also rate service-connected Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System as long as they also make the service member Unfit for Duty. For Reservists, the Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System must have occurred in the Line of Duty to qualify.
Since Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System can affect the bones, muscles, joints, connective tissues, ligaments, etc., anywhere in the body, the effects are wide-ranging and varied. This makes rating Musculoskeletal Diseases tricky, to say the least. But while Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System are varied, many cause similar symptoms.
In order to best rate the various effects of Musculoskeletal Diseases while ensuring that no disability is rated twice (the Pyramiding Principle), the VASRD groups together diseases that cause similar symptoms and rates them all under the same rating system.
These rating options are intended to reflect the amount of impact the condition has on the veteran’s ability to work and/or function in daily life.
The first rating system for Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System is Degenerative Arthritis. The following Musculoskeletal Diseases are rated as Degenerative Arthritis:
- Degenerative Arthritis
- Post-traumatic Arthritis
- Non-cancerous bone growth
- Osteitis deformans (Paget’s disease)
- Intermittent hydrarthrosis
- Myositis ossificans
The second rating system for Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System is Systemic Arthritis. The following Musculoskeletal Diseases are rated as Systemic Arthritis:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Gonorrheal Arthritis (a.k.a. gonococcal arthritis)
- Pneumococcic Arthritis
- Typhoid Arthritis
- Syphilitic Arthritis
- Streptococcic Arthritis
- All other Arthritis
The following Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System have their own rating systems:
- Decompression Sickness
- Tuberculosis of the Bones and Joints
- Muscular Degeneration
All other Musculoskeletal Diseases are rated under the rating system that best covers its symptoms (see the Musculoskeletal Diseases Ratings page).
In any case where Musculoskeletal Diseases are rated under a code other than their own, then the final code for the condition would be two four-digit numbers hyphenated together: i.e. 5019-5003. The first four-digit code defines the condition as Bursitis while the last four-digit code tells how it is rated (Degenerative Arthritis).
If any Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System lead to complete loss of use or amputation of a limb, then it may also qualify for Special Monthly Compensation in addition to, or instead of, the standard compensation.
Military Disability for Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System FAQs
Does my Musculoskeletal Disease qualify for VA disability?
The VA will rate all Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System that officially qualify as service-connected. See our Service-Connection page to see if yours qualifies.
Does my Musculoskeletal Disease qualify for DoD Disability?
The DoD will rate all Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System that officially qualify as service-connected and make you Unfit for Duty.
What benefits will I receive for my Musculoskeletal Disease?
The VA will award you a monthly payment and full medical coverage for all of your service-connected conditions. The exact amount of the monthly payment will depend on your combined VA rating for your conditions.
Will the VA make my rating for my Musculoskeletal Disease permanent?
Many Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System, like degenerative arthritis are undeniably permanent as they cannot be cured, however, they will only qualify for the official Permanent and Total (P&T) status if they qualify for a Total rating (100%).
Does my Musculoskeletal Disease qualify me for Unemployability?
Not necessarily. There are many jobs that can be performed by individuals with various levels and types of Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System. You will only qualify for Individual Unemployability if your condition alone qualifies for a 60% rating (or 40% with a combined 70%) and has resulted in perpetual unemployment despite repeated attempts.
I have multiple Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System that qualify for a combined 100% VA Disability Rating. How much money will I receive monthly?
The exact amount you will receive monthly depends on whether you have dependents and whether you qualify for additional Special Monthly Compensation. See our VA Rating Chart and Special Monthly Compensation page for details on the current rates.
What do I do if my Musculoskeletal Disease is service-connected, but my claim was denied?
You can appeal to have your claim reconsidered. Make sure to provide the VA with sufficient evidence to refute their reason for denial.
I am rated 100%. Will I still have to go in for VA exams?
The VA will continue to require periodic exams to track the progress of your conditions until they declare your conditions Permanent and Total (P&T).