VA Classification for Bilateral Knee Injuries and Conditions - Berry Law (2023)

published byBerry lawon October 5, 2022 atdisability assessments

Military service can expose veterans to a number of situations that could lead to future injury, disability, or illness. Fortunately, veterans injured while on duty are eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Establishing a service connection can be lengthy and difficult. Veterans should receive timely information so they are ready to make an effective claim.

A common injury suffered by many veterans is knee pain. Whether through wear and tear, injury, or combat, veterans can often receive benefits for their service-related knee injury.

While knee problems are a common reason for filing a VA claim, many veterans don't get the high evaluation they deserve. he goesrejects about 30% of disability claims each year, so it is important that veterans prepare or consult an expert before making their knee-related claims.

What is bilateral knee pain?

Many factors can contribute to thisknee pain.Pain can be the result of a knee injury during a veteran's service, a service-related condition such as osteoarthritis, or simply wear and tear over a long period of time.

When a veteran has pain in both knees, they are calledbilateral knee painLike other forms of knee pain, bilateral knee pain can be the result of injury, disease, or chronic stress and strain on the joints.

Some treatments for bilateral knee pain and other conditions will successfully reduce the symptoms a veteran is suffering from. In other cases, treatment may not be as effective, especially when age weakens the bones and ligaments in the legs.

However, this does not mean that a veteran should avoid treatment as it will only cause the knee's condition to progressively worsen. Even if it doesn't completely cure bilateral knee pain, treatment can drastically slow the progression of symptoms.

(Video) VA Disability for Musculoskeletal Injuries | America’s Veterans Law Firm

What are common treatments for knee pain and injuries?

When a veteran becomes aware of a bilateral knee injury, it's important to seek diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are many forms of treatment. These treatments fall into two categories: surgical and non-surgical options.

Non-surgical options:

  • Relax:One of the most important treatments for bilateral knee problems is to let your knees restrelax. If the knee needs to heal, pressure and stress will only make the condition worse.
  • Physical therapy:Your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen your leg muscles and get your knees working properly.
  • AINE:Doctors may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce knee pain and swelling.
  • steroids:In addition to pain relievers, your doctor may suggest corticosteroids in tablet or injection form. These steroids reduce inflammation and slow the progression of knee disease.

Surgical Options:

  • Arthroscopic Surgery:This surgery uses a small, thin incision and a camera probe to diagnose and treat painful conditions like a cruciate ligament tear.
  • Meniscus removal: This surgery removes a torn portion of the meniscus, a cartilage pad in the knee that is a common cause of knee pain and injury.
  • Knee Replacement – ​​This option may be necessary when all other treatment plans have been ruled out. Knee replacements can be partial, total, or even bilateral, depending on the severity of the condition or injury.

Veterans should consult their physician regarding the best form of treatment for their specific knee condition.

Many veterans suffer from painful knee problems due to the rigorous physical activity required by the military.

Because of this, many veterans go through the VA claim process for their knee pain in hopes of getting a good disability rating so they can receive significant benefits.

However, when veterans receive the VA's results on their disability rating, many are surprised at how low their rating is. The reason?

The VA has certain rules and regulations that make knee claims unique. If a veteran is unaware of these rules, they may not consider them when filing a claim.

For example, the VA does not allowpyramidal, meaning they do not use multiple diagnoses to assess a single disability, and they do not compensate a veteran more than once for the same manifestation of that disability.

(Video) VA Disability for Knee Conditions & Pain

However, you will evaluate the different manifestations of a knee problem separately. This means a veteran can request a higher disability rating if they feel their knee disability has worsened. This can be particularly relevant for conditions like osteoarthritis, which tend to get worse over time.

Veterans can learn more about itspecific diagnostic codes and their corresponding disability classifications here.Knowing this information in advance can help a veteran gather the evidence necessary to prove a service connection for his knee injury.

What are the most common causes of bilateral knee disease?

One of the most common causes of knee injuries in the military is paratrooper injuries. Around80%The reported cases of paratrooper injuries were training or mission-specific leg injuries.

Accomplishing some duties as a skydiver requires a great deal of physical exertion, and this high exertion can take a toll on a veteran's knees. Even the slightest mistake in landing a skydiver can result in a significant knee injury.

There are cases where a military knee injury is short-lived and resolves by the end of the veteran's service.

However, there are other instances where a veteran suffers a knee injury long after his honorable discharge. If this is the case, the veteran should file an application with the VA and claim benefits.

To do this, they must first establish a service connection for their bilateral knee condition.

How do I make a service connection for a knee injury or knee condition?

In order for the VA to consider a disability for benefits, a veteran must establish a service connection.

Failure to establish service connection due to disability will result in denial of a claim. This means the veteran will not receive VA benefits for their disability.

(Video) Winning VA Compensation For Knees: Part 2

There are three components a Veteran must demonstrate in order to establish a Service Connection:

  • A recent diagnosis of the injury or disability.
  • Evidence of a stressor on duty
  • A medical link between the current diagnosis and the on-duty stressor

Any evidence a veteran gathers should support these three main components.

The evidence also determines what disability rating a veteran deserves. If the severity of the symptoms or other evidence is unclear, the VA may give the veteran a low disability rating even if it approves the claim.

Veterans may feel they deserve a higher disability rating because of their knee condition. In these cases, veterans can appeal a VA decision and request a higher disability rating.

How to appeal

After all their hard work collecting evidence for a claim, a veteran may still be disappointed with the VA's decision, either because their claim was denied or because they received a lower rating than they deserved.

This can leave many veterans feeling frustrated and losing hope. On average, it takes the VA more than a year to make a decision, so a denied claim means the veteran will have to wait even longer to receive benefits.

Fortunately, veterans have the opportunity to file a supplemental claim and appeal any VA decision within a year of the original VA decision.

Because the supplementary claims process can often be more difficult and confusing than the initial claims process, a veteran should seek the help of an experienced attorney, such as B. atBerry law.

Working with an attorney will help make a veteran's lawsuit more successful, since many veterans overlook important evidence that could support their claims. An attorney ensures that a veteran has all the evidence they need before filing their claim or appeal.

(Video) The Truth About VA Disability Claims For Knee Problems


Bilateral knee injuries are common among veterans due to the wear and tear that time on duty can cause. Veterans who are still suffering from knee pain after their time in service should seek VA benefits to offset the cost of treatment.

To make an effective claim or appeal, a veteran should work with an experienced attorney for best results.

For more information on VA laws and veteran benefits, visit ourWebsite.


Knee Pain: Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic

Causes and Treatments for Bilateral Knee Pain | very good health

38 CFR §4.71a – List of Classifications – Musculoskeletal System | Cornell Law School - Institute for Legal Information

Common Knee Injuries | OrthoInfo | YEARS


What is the VA rating for bilateral knee pain? ›

VA ratings for knee pain range from 0% to 60%. The more pain or lack of mobility in the knee, the higher the rating. If there is too much wear and tear on the knee and it requires surgery, a veteran may be granted a temporary 100% rating following surgery.

What is the VA disability rating for bilateral knee replacement? ›

The VA rates knee replacements under 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a Code 5055. The rating criteria ranges from 100 percent to 30 percent disabling. The 30 percent rating is the minimum rating for a knee replacement, meaning if you had a knee replacement and it is service-connected, you will be rated at least at 30 percent.

Can you get VA disability for bilateral knee pain? ›

VA's Bilateral Factor Rule: When Both Knees Have Disabilities. VA recognizes that if veterans have a disability that affects both knees, the ability to function on daily basis is going to be even more limited. In this case, VA will combine the ratings of the left and right knees and add an additional 10 percent.

How does the VA calculate bilateral conditions? ›

The bilateral factor (extra 10% added to combined disability rating) applies when a veteran has disabilities on paired limbs and/or paired skeletal muscles. The disability ratings for paired legs, arms, and skeletal muscles get calculated in their order of severity, resulting in one combined disability rating.

What is a bilateral knee condition? ›

Bilateral knee arthritis occurs when both knees are affected with OA. OA is a painful, degenerative condition that can reduce your mobility and make daily tasks difficult to manage. Early diagnosis and treatment may decrease joint damage and improve your overall quality of life.

What is the average VA disability rating for knee pain? ›

This refers to the range of motion a person has when their knee is moving towards the body. This is the most common knee problem eligible for VA disability benefits, with ratings that typically range from 10% to 30%.

What conditions are secondary to knee pain? ›

Common Secondary Conditions to Knee Pain

Instability of the knee, diagnostic code 5257. Ankylosis of the knee, diagnostic code 5256. Total knee replacements, diagnostic code 5055.

What percentage of knee replacements are bilateral? ›

However, when the knee replacements are performed in two separate anesthesia, it is called staged bilateral surgery. The interval between two operations is commonly from one week to one year (6, 7). Simultaneous bilateral knee replacements include nearly 6% of all knee replacements in the United States (8).

Does VA rate each knee separately? ›

Depending on the nature of a veteran's knee issues, it may be possible for them to receive multiple VA ratings for knee pain. If there are two separate conditions that involve different movements of the knee, both conditions may be eligible for their own VA rating.

Is arthritis in both knees a disability? ›

Many people may wonder is arthritis a disability. Yes. Arthritis can prompt incapacity, as can numerous other mental and physical conditions. If your arthritis confines your daily movements, or activities you may qualify for disability benefits.

Can you get disability for arthritis in both knees? ›

Arthritis can cause your joints to experience major dysfunction due to deformities such as misalignments, shortening of the joint or chronic pain and stiffness. If your condition has led to a dysfunction in any of your joints, you can automatically qualify for benefits.

Is a knee injury permanent disability? ›

Even with proper medical treatment, knee disorders can cause a permanent disruption to a person's life and ability to work. If you are unable to work due to a knee disorder you may qualify to receive long term disability (LTD) benefits.

What is an example of bilateral factor? ›

As the word itself suggests, bilateral means affecting both sides. You must have two impairments with one affecting each side. They do not have to be the exact same body part. For example, disabilities affecting the use of your left elbow and your right wrist would be considered bilateral.

What is the VA 48 month rule? ›

help eligible Veterans maximize their education benefits. Now, Veterans who use Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) benefits prior to using any other VA education program, such as the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill, can still use up to 48 total months of the other educational assistance benefit programs.

What is the VA 85/15 rule? ›

The 85/15 rule prohibits paying Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to students enrolling in a program when more than 85 percent of the students enrolled in that program are having any portion of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid for them by the Educational and Training Institution (ETI) or VA.

Does bilateral knee mean both knees? ›

A bilateral knee replacement is when both knees are replaced during the same surgical procedure. Dr. Michael Bates, MD, explains which patients are strong candidates for a bilateral knee replacement and the challenges during and after surgery.

How do you code bilateral knee pain? ›

11874791000119104 - Bilateral knee pain - SNOMED CT.

What is the VA rating for torn meniscus? ›

The veteran's right knee disability at issue, MCL, ACL, and medial meniscus tears of the right knee status post surgery, is evaluated as 20 percent disabling under Diagnostic Code (Code) 5257, other impairment of the knee.

How do I get a higher VA rating on my knee? ›

In order to get the highest rating of 30%, the knee must be so unstable that it gives out or dislocates regularly. Total Knee Replacements: If your knee disability becomes so severe that a total knee replacement is required you will automatically receive a temporary 100% rating for one year post surgery.

What happens when both knees hurt? ›

If the bilateral knee pain you are experiencing occurs after a traumatic event or if your symptoms are worsening, it is important to seek the care of a physician. Not only will a doctor help diagnose the cause of your pain, but they'll be able to determine which treatment is right for you.

Why do I have bilateral knee pain? ›

Bilateral knee pain is usually the result of arthritis. Different forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and gout, can cause this issue. Swelling, joint stiffness, and mobility issues can all present alongside bilateral knee pain. The issue is usually caused by inflammation or injury.

What cause knee pain in both knees? ›

Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain. Many types of minor knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Physical therapy and knee braces also can help relieve pain.

How long does it take to recover from bilateral knee surgery? ›

Double knee replacement recovery time is usually at least 13 weeks. Your commitment to your rehabilitation program and how well you follow your therapist's instructions will determine how quickly you recover. After three months, you should be ready to resume your regular activities.

Can you ever kneel again after knee replacement? ›

There is currently no evidence that there is any clinical reason why patients should not kneel on their replaced knee, and reasons for not kneeling could be addressed through education and rehabilitation.

How long does it take to fully recover from bilateral knee replacement surgery? ›

Knee replacement surgery can relieve pain and restore function when your knee is severely damaged by arthritis or injury. The average recovery time from knee replacement surgery is approximately six months, but it can take roughly 12 months to fully return to physically demanding activities.

Is arthritis a permanent VA disability? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis, as an active condition, may receive a 100% VA disability rating if you experience constitutional manifestations associated with active joint involvement and is totally incapacitating.

What is the most approved disability? ›

What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.

What is the VA rating for chronic joint pain? ›

Veterans receive either a 10% or 20% rating depending on the severity of their symptoms and the number of joints affected. A 20% rating requires that two or more major joints or two or more groups of minor joints have occasional incapacitating episodes.

Is chronic knee pain a disability? ›

Even with proper medical treatment, knee disorders can cause a permanent disruption to a person's life and ability to work. If you are unable to work due to a knee disorder you may qualify to receive long term disability (LTD) benefits.

What causes arthritis in both knees? ›

Increased weight adds stress to weight-bearing joints, such as your hips and knees. Also, fat tissue produces proteins that can cause harmful inflammation in and around your joints. Joint injuries. Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.

Can you have both arthritis and osteoarthritis? ›

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Is It Possible to Have Both? It is possible to have both OA and RA. A previous joint injury can lead to both diseases, but OA is more likely to develop as you age. Likewise, as people with RA age, they are at risk of getting OA.

What is the VA rating criteria for knee? ›

According to the rating criteria, if the knee can straighten, but can't bend all the way, it is rated under 5260. The different percentages available are 0%, 10%, 20%, and 30%. These ratings are assigned based on how much the knee can bend. So, the less the knee can bend, the higher the rating will be.

What is the VA rate for degenerative arthritis? ›

Degenerative Arthritis (Diagnostic Code 5003)

Degenerative arthritis will be rated at 10 or 20 percent based upon the number of joints/joint groups affected and the level of incapacitation. VA requires that limitation of motion be confirmed by observations such as swelling, muscle spasms, or evidence of painful motion.


1. The Bilateral Factor | VA Disability Group | Attorney Casey Walker
(VA Disability Group PLLC)
2. How Much Money Can I Get If I Have the Highest VA Disability Rating for Knee Pain?
(Combat Craig)
(TXC Tells All)
4. Can You Get Service Connection for Preexisting Conditions? | VA Disability Lawyers
(Berry Law - Veterans)
5. How Veterans Use The VA Disability Bilateral Factor For Higher Ratings
6. Do I Qualify for Multiple Service Connected Disabilities? | PTSD Lawyers
(Berry Law - Veterans)


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