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Tips for Successfully Applying for VA Disability Benefits for Lower Back Pain

Many veterans who suffer from back pain can qualify for disability benefits. Once the VA conducts a compensation and pension (C&P) exam, they will assign a disability rating to your condition, determining your monthly compensation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or acetaminophen can help alleviate muscle pain and stiffness when purchased over-the-counter. Skin creams, ointments, or patches with ingredients that calm, heat, or numb the area also may offer relief.

Document Your Symptoms

If you experience back pain that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment, you may qualify for disability benefits. Documenting the severity of your back condition with medical records and personal statements is essential. You should also be ready to demonstrate your range of motion and have a C&P exam performed by a VA-approved medical professional.

The VA evaluates back pain by examining how much it prevents you from carrying out your daily activities and work-related tasks. The severity of your back pain will determine a rating that influences your compensation amount. Common conditions that qualify for a back pain rating include herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and sciatica. These conditions can cause significant back pain and create a functional loss or limited range of motion.

Talk to a VA Attorney

Back pain is one of the most common complaints from veterans, and getting a proper lower back pain VA disability rating for it can be challenging. The rating system is heavily based on range of motion, so doctors might not focus enough on other aspects of your symptoms during your Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam.

In addition, there may not be a specific condition causing your back pain. 

A steadfast VA-accredited attorney can help you make the necessary connection between your service in uniform and your current disability. This is vital for a successful claim and increases your back pain rating.

Be Honest About Your Condition

When applying for VA disability benefits for back pain, honesty about your condition is essential. This includes being honest about how your condition has affected your life and how it affects other areas of your body, like your range of motion.

The more honest you are about your back pain, the more likely the VA will award you a higher rating. This is especially true if you are found to have stiffening of your entire spine (thoracolumbar and cervical) or have no range of motion.

If you are found to have this type of stiffness, you may be awarded a 100% disability rating. This is the highest possible disability rating for a back injury. This is a huge reason why it’s essential to document everything.

Be Prepared for a C&P Exam

Proving back pain is just part of a successful VA disability claim. It would be best to establish a connection between your time on active duty and the current condition, known as a service connection.

This can be done through a C&P exam, which a medical professional conducts at a private contractor such as QTC or a VA Medical Center. Having someone accompany you to the appointment for support and as an extra set of eyes during the examination is recommended.

The C&P exam is often centered on range of motion, but if you experience back pain flare-ups, you must tell the doctor about them since they should also be included in your rating. This could help you qualify for a higher percentage disability rating and additional compensation.

Be Prepared for an Appeal

When veterans claim disability benefits for back pain, they must have a current diagnosis of their condition from a medical professional. They also need to submit documentation describing how their symptoms affect them daily.

The VA will then schedule a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam to assess their condition. During this exam, the examiner will conduct an interview and physical examination. Veterans must understand how this exam works and how the VA determines a back pain VA rating.

Getting a disabling back condition diagnosed and rated by the VA can be frustrating, especially for those who receive an unfavorable initial rating. Fortunately, veterans can take steps to appeal their rating and receive deserved benefits.

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