The Ribs Overview
The VA awards disability compensation for each Rib 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 Ribs 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 Ribs with a few exceptions. If a nerve condition also exists in the Ribs, then that can be rated separately under one of the Vagus Nerve or Long Thoracic Nerve codes since the Nervous System is separate and distinct. Other exceptions, if any, are noted in specific rating codes found on the Rib Condition Ratings page.
Muscles do have their own rating system (see the Torso and Neck Muscles page), but cannot be rated in addition to another musculoskeletal rating for the Ribs since they often result in similar symptoms (limitation of motion, etc.).
The Rib Ratings
Because the Ribs consists specifically of the bones themselves, the VASRD only gives a single code for rating the Ribs, code 5297. All other Rib conditions can be covered by muscle or nerve ratings.
How will the VA rate my Rib condition?
The VA uses the rules of the VASRD to rate conditions of the Ribs based on whether or not they have been removed in part or in full. Check out our Rib Conditions Ratings page for the exact code and ratings.
My Rib condition wasn't diagnosed until after I was discharged. Can it qualify for VA disability?
The VA can only rate conditions that meet some type of service-connection requirement. For conditions diagnosed after service, the condition must either be a secondary condition caused by another service-connected condition, or it must be on the VA's Presumptive List.
Are my conditions eligible for a rating?
Your conditions are eligible to be rated by the VA if they are the result of your military service. You must be able to show proof of service-connection for each condition. For the DoD, they will rate your service-connected conditions as long as they also make you Unfit for Duty.
How do I apply to receive my ratings?
If you are still in the military, then you can request your military physician to refer you to the MEB and start the IDES process. If you are already a veteran, you can submit a VA Disability Claim along with evidence of service-connection and all medical records regarding the conditions on the claim.
If my claim is approved, what benefits will I receive?
If you are rated 20% or less from the DoD, then you will receive a single separation payment. If you are rated 30% or more, you will receive full retirement benefits. From the VA, you will receive a monthly payment as well as full medical care from the VA for the qualifying conditions.
How long does it take to receive my disability benefits?
Brand new claims usually take 3-6 months to process. Once processed, you will start receiving payments in 1-3 months.
How are the rating percentages assigned to my conditions?
The rules of the VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) are used to assign rating percentages to conditions. The VASRD gives rating rules for conditions based on their symptoms, treatment options, and the resulting level of disability they cause.
My conditions have worsened. How do I increase my rating percentages?
If your conditions have worsened since you last applied and now qualify for a higher rating, you can submit a new claim, checking the box for an increased evaluation.