Foot problems such as hammertoe and hallux valgus (which are more commonly called bunions) are some of the most common conditions that affect veterans. Because of the extreme physical demands often placed on people by the military, there may be foot pain and problems that last far beyond leaving the service. In some cases, these issues with your feet can become worse over time, as well.
In this article about bunions, hammer toe, and other VA disability ratings for your feet:
- Hallux Valgus and Hammer Toe Can Affect Quality of Life
- Understanding the Kinds of Problems Hallux Valgus Causes
- Bunions Can Worsen Over Time
- Hammer Toe VA Ratings Count Too
- Receiving a VA Disability Rating
- Bunions are Not the Only Foot-Based In-Service Issue to Consider
- Work With Trusted Professionals on Your Side Today
Whether your foot problems were caused by overall wear and tear or by a specific injury that occurred during your time in the service, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. Knowing that can take the washed-out feeling you have from your disability and turn it into something that feels brighter and more cheerful.
Unfortunately, many veterans find that they don’t receive a disability rating that’s adequate to reflect the significance of the problems with their feet. A VA disability calculator may provide an estimate, which can give you a good starting point toward understanding what kind of disability rating your foot problems may qualify for.
The highest VA disability rating for hallux limitus is typically 10%. The VA uses 38 CFR § 4.71a, Schedule of Ratings—Musculoskeletal System, Diagnostic Code 5280 for bunions and related types of problems. Because of that, the VA rating for bilateral hammertoes and secondary disability hallux valgus is also similar.
It can be frustrating to struggle with a disability, yet have it be poorly recognized by the VA. But there may be ways to increase your VA disability rating for common foot ailments that are service-connected.
Hallux Valgus and Hammer Toe Can Affect Quality of Life
If you have bunions or hammertoe issues, you may not be able to lead the kind of life you want. You may also struggle to work, as the condition can cause pain and discomfort if you need to be on your feet for a particular type of job.
When you have hallux valgus, hammer toe, foot drop, foot calluses, or other types of problems, there are ways to get VA disability. The same is true for foot calluses, as well as other types of foot-related concerns. Without a VA disability rating for foot problems, you may find that you are not getting the help and support you really need.
The compensation for hallux valgus is particularly important to people who are not able to work due to their condition. If you are in that position, the right legal help may make all the difference.
Understanding the Kinds of Problems Hallux Valgus Causes
In order to really understand what hallux valgus causes, how it develops, and the issues that can relate to it, it’s important to have more knowledge of the foot. When a person develops a bunion, for example, it commonly comes from an injury to the big toe joint area. But it does not necessarily have to be a significant injury to begin causing problems.
Wearing boots that are ill-fitted, for example, may cause bunions to start forming. Some people have a genetic predisposition to bunions, as well, and they will them more easily than other people will, given the same conditions or level of injury.
A bunion forms when the bone at the joint where the big toe meets the foot becomes deformed and pushed outward as a bunion develops, which may cause pain and discomfort.
Over time, the problem may continue to worsen. It can start as a small lump or bump, and progress to a significant bulge that makes it difficult to wear shoes or walk without pain. If over-the-counter and doctor-suggested remedies do not work to solve the discomfort, then bunion surgery may be necessary. The problem may also occur on the joint of the little toe, where it is called a bunionette.
The movement of your big toe may become limited in the case of a bunion. That not only increases discomfort, but it may also mean that you can’t walk or balance safely. This could limit your ability to get around and hinder your mobility. If you can’t walk around, you can’t work. Even a desk job requires you to walk to and from your desk, which can be excruciating with bunions.
Bunions Can Worsen Over Time
When a person deals with hallux valgus, they may not have a lot of issues with it right away. Bunions grow over time, especially if the conditions that caused them are not changed. In other words, a person developing bunions would want to stop wearing shoes that could be causing or contributing to those bunions. Of course, in the military that is not always easy, or even possible.
If that is the case, and affects the worsening of bunions over time, it is important to acknowledge that as a service-connected disability. Many people with bunions would not connect them to their time in the military, but the heavy boots and long marching times can contribute to the development of many types of conditions. This all gets worse with repetition, so you don’t have to list a single event for a service connection. We show that a long-term action that isn’t corrected often qualifies as a service connection.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.
Hammer Toe VA Ratings Count Too
Hammer toe isn’t a problem with the big toe as much as it’s a problem with your inner toes. When they are bent by injured tendons, they rise up or bend. This bend is what gives this condition the name “hammer toe.”
Shoes become very uncomfortable as hammer toe progresses. Walking is affected and running or any sort of exercise using your feet is out of the picture. People with hammer toe are also embarrassed to wear sandals because even though that eases some of the pain, it doesn’t hide their condition.
Bilateral hammer toe means that it is affecting both feet. Most people don’t have a single foot problem. Hammer toe is common with metatarsalgia which causes pain in the ball of your foot. Bunions and arthritis are common traveling companions. As all of these are diagnosed together, you want to list them all on your VA disability application. You may not be able to get rated for all of them, but each symptom can contribute to a stronger rating.
Receiving a VA Disability Rating
Before you can be approved for a VA disability rating for bunions or other foot conditions, will need to have evidence of your disability such as medical tests and diagnoses, as well as evidence of your time in military service. That will help you answer the “can I get disability for bunions?” question, along with others you may have about your bunions and how they might be connected to your time in the military.
Once you’ve applied for your VA disability rating for hallux valgus or other conditions, you will need to undergo an evaluation. You will also need proof that your condition is related to your time in the service. To establish that connection, you need to have a disability that is current and has been diagnosed. There are exceptions to that rule, but a current diagnosis for foot-related issues is going to be very important in moving your case forward.
You also need to show that there was an in-service event or injury that was the cause of the bunions, the beginning of their development, or an issue that made them significantly worse. That link between the injury or event that occurred during your in-service time, and the condition you have today, is called a medical nexus. The nexus is the point at which two issues or events intersect.
The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.
When that nexus is provable, the VA should be willing to assign a disability rating and award a service connection. In some cases, however, the VA does not see the connection or does not want to make the same connection as the injured person. That can result in a denial of your VA disability claim, and a lack of ability to get the help and support you are looking for.
Call us to see if you have a strong case. We’ll go over your claim and ask you a lot of questions about your current conditions and what you experienced while you were enlised. Even for those with strong cases and clear health issues related to their time in the military, denials are common. Appealing will be necessary in those cases, and having knowledgeable professionals on your side can make a big difference.
Plantar Fasciitis and Flat Foot VA Ratings
See how the VA rates flat feet after all of that marching with 100 pounds of the lightest kit in the world.
Bunions are Not the Only Foot-Based In-Service Issue to Consider
There are many other medical conditions related to the foot that may have been caused by time in the military. If you are suffering from hallux valgus, hallux limitus, hammertoes, foot drop, foot calluses, or any related concerns, you are not alone. You may also have more options than you realize when you have help to secure your VA benefits.
Just like bunions, severe calluses and hammertoes (where one toe crosses over the other) can be connected to in-service issues. These foot issues can come from improper footwear, worn for a long period of time, and the overall punishment that the feet of military personnel often take. It is important to acknowledge that there are serious issues with the feet that can affect the quality of life, as well as your ability to work.
As a service-connected disability, foot-related issues may not be commonly considered. Still, they have a big impact on what a person is able to do in life. It’s important to think carefully about foot-related issues and what may have caused the problems. Recognizing how feet got damaged can help a person work with their doctors and legal professionals on getting a VA disability rating.
Any problems with your feet should be checked out by a medical professional. But along with that, take the time to consider when the problems started, or if you sustained injuries or damage to your feet during your in-service time. Those types of injuries from the past could be directly related to issues you’re experiencing in the present. Rather than ignore them or simply treat them now, you may be eligible for VA disability that can help you receive compensation for your concerns.
With your doctor’s help, figure out the exact foot condition you are going to get service-connected. In general, the VA disability rating for foot pain is found under 38 CFR § 4.71a: Schedule of Ratings: Musculoskeletal System. The eight diagnostic codes that apply to this schedule are found from 5276 to 5283. These are, as follows:
- 5276: Flat feet
- 5277: Weak foot, bilateral
- 5278: Claw foot (pes cavus), acquired
- 5279: Metatarsalgia (anterior, unilateral or bilateral)
- 5280: Hallux valgus (unilateral)
- 5281: Hallux rigidus (unilateral, severe)
- 5282: Hammer toe
- 5283: Malunion or nonunion of tarsal or metatarsal bones
Work With Trusted Professionals on Your Side Today
By working with trusted legal professionals, you have the opportunity to have your VA disability case heard in a way that will get results. You also want to work with legal professionals when you appeal a VA disability denial because we have the tools and information to make your case and appeal as strong as possible.
The VA disability lawyers at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, are committed to helping you maximize your compensation and get the most from your injury or appeal case. If you have a service-connected disability, getting in touch with us is the right step toward receiving a VA disability rating and the fair and just compensation you deserve.
We are family-owned and have been in business since 1985, with a focus on making sure veterans can get the highest level of compensation for any injuries or events they sustained during their time in the military. We also help surviving spouses and children of veterans with claims for their deceased loved ones.
We don’t charge fees to help you apply, and you’ll only pay a one-time fee if we win your case. Contact us today, to discuss your VA disability concerns, current rating or appeal issues, and any other VA-based problems related to your hallux valgus or other foot issues. We’re here to help you get the fair and just compensation you deserve.
At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to serve disabled veterans better in difficult times.
Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.
Talk to Us About Your Claim: (866) 232-5777
No. 38 CFR section 4.71a specifically says that VASRD 5281 – Hallux rigidus, can not be combined with claw foot ratings. While the VA will do all they can to avoid pyramiding, you want to make sure whatever condition you are rated for is given full consideration. If you have symptoms that are linked to your service, make sure they count somewhere in your VA disability claim.
Most of the veterans who call us end up getting more than one condition rated by the VA. The average vet got rated for 5.7 disabilities in 2020. That means when you call us about your bunions, we’re also going to look to make sure you can’t also get VA disability for arthritis, diabetes, PTSD, or sleep apnea. We check everything — for no cost unless we win your case.