Disability for Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors

The VA awards disability for Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors that are service-connected. The DoD will also rate service-connected cancers and tumors as long as they also make the service member Unfit for Duty. For Reservists, the Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors must have occurred in the Line of Duty to qualify.

musculoskeletal cancers and tumors

Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors are made up of the growth of abnormal cells. These cells can be benign—they do not attack the good cells around them (tumors)—or they can be malignant—they attack the cells around them (cancers). 

Since Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors 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 Cancers and Tumors tricky, to say the least. 

The VASRD offers rating options for Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors that 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 VASRD uses the following codes to rate Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors:

  • All tumors of the musculoskeletal system are rated under code 5328.
  • Soft tissue sarcomas are rated under code 5329
  • All malignant cancers of the bones are rated under code 5012.
  • All malignant cancers of the muscles (not including sarcomas) are rated under code 5327.

While each of these codes has different rating guidelines, the bottom-line principle used to rate Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors is to rate the main symptoms that it causes. For example, if a tumor in the shoulder causes limited motion, then it would be rated under code 5201 for limited motion of the shoulder. If a musculoskeletal tumor protrudes into the abdomen and damages the liver, it would be rated under code 7311 for liver injury residuals. See the Ratings for Cancers and Tumors of the Musculoskeletal System page for more details.

In any case where Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors are rated under a code not listed above, then the final code for the condition would be two four-digit numbers hyphenated together: i.e. 5329-5201. The first four-digit code defines the condition as soft tissue sarcoma while the last four-digit code tells how it is rated (limited motion of the shoulder).

If Musculoskeletal Cancers or Tumors lead to loss of use or amputation of a limb, then it may also qualify for Special Monthly Compensation instead of, or in addition to, the standard compensation. 

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Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors FAQs

Do my Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors qualify for VA disability?

The VA will rate all cancers and tumors that officially qualify as service-connected. See our Service-Connection page to see if yours qualifies.

Do my Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors qualify for DoD Disability?

The DoD will rate all cancers and tumors that officially qualify as service-connected and also make you Unfit for Duty.

What benefits will I receive for Musculoskeletal Cancers and Tumors?

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 cancer permanent?

All cancers can result in permanent disabilities, but not in every case. In order for the VA to assign a Permanent and Total (P&T) status, the cancer must qualify for a Total rating (100%) and not be expected to ever improve in the future.

Does my cancer qualify me for Unemployability?

Not necessarily. Cancers can result in a wide range of disabilities, many of which could still allow employment. You will only qualify for Individual Unemployability if your cancer alone qualifies for a 60% rating (or 40% with a combined 70%) and has resulted in perpetual unemployment despite repeated attempts.

My cancer qualifies for a 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 cancer is service-connected, but my claim was denied?

You can appeal to have your claim reconsidered. Make sure that the VA has 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).

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