If you’re a veteran with cubital tunnel syndrome, you’ll want to know about the VA rating for the condition. You also may want to consider whether your cubital tunnel is related to any sleep or mental health disorders you experience.
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The pain radiating from your “funny bone” isn’t humorous at all. Your hand goes numb, and sometimes, you don’t have much strength in your hand or arm. If you’re diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome, it may be related to repetitive actions or an injury during your military service. This post explains how the cubital tunnel syndrome VA rating works.
In this article about the cubital tunnel syndrome VA rating:
What is cubital tunnel syndrome?
Cubital tunnel syndrome, also called ulnar nerve entrapment, happens when the ulnar nerve, running through the inside of the elbow, is injured. The nerve can become inflamed, swollen, and irritated, causing elbow pain, numbness, or tingling. You may also feel like your ring finger and small fingers are asleep and have pain or numbness in your hand.
Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by overuse, leaning on or putting weight on the elbow for long periods, or injuring the elbow in another way. Arthritis and previous elbow injuries may also bring on this condition.
When looking at the causes of cubital tunnel, you can see how lifting, stretching, and even staying in certain positions for long periods in training or combat during service could cause the condition. Additionally, if you injured your elbow during your service and reported it, that injury should be well-documented in your files.
Cubital tunnel vs. carpal tunnel
Cubital tunnel syndrome isn’t the same as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is pain in the wrist caused by damage to a different nerve in the arm, the median nerve. But veterans can also get VA disability for carpal tunnel syndrome, or for both conditions if they experience damage to both their median and ulnar nerves.
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Cubital tunnel syndrome VA rating
Veterans can receive VA disability benefits for cubital tunnel syndrome if the condition develops because of their military service.
Cubital tunnel is rated using diagnostic codes 8516, 8616, or 8716 in the Schedule of Ratings, depending on the severity. The rating is also based on how much you can move and use your wrist, fingers, and thumb, and whether it impacts your major (dominant) arm or your minor arm. The VA rating criteria for paralysis of the ulnar nerve under code 8516 is as follows:
|Complete; the “griffin claw” deformity, due to flexor contraction of ring and little fingers, atrophy very marked in dorsal interspace and thenar and hypothenar eminences; loss of extension of ring and little fingers cannot spread the fingers (or reverse), cannot adduct the thumb; flexion of wrist weakened
Bilateral factor for veterans with cubital tunnel syndrome
The “bilateral factor” is applied by the VA when you have cubital tunnel syndrome on both sides of your body. The bilateral factor exists because disabilities that affect both sides of the body can be more limiting for veterans.
The bilateral factor combines ratings for disabilities on either side of the body and then adds 10% of the value of this combined rating. Because VA math requires a veteran’s overall rating to be rounded, there are circumstances in which applying the bilateral factor could push a veteran’s rating to the next highest compensation level.
The condition must affect the upper or lower portion of the body on both sides. For example, cubital tunnel syndrome in both arms would qualify, or cubital tunnel in the left arm and carpal tunnel in the right arm.
If you need help figuring out VA ratings with the bilateral factor, you can use our helpful VA disability ratings calculator.
Cubital tunnel and sleep and mental health issues
Research has found connections between cubital tunnel syndrome and sleep disorders and between the syndrome and mental health issues.
Cubital tunnel syndrome can cause sleep disturbances, both because of the aching pain and discomfort caused by the condition and because the symptoms are often more severe at night. Research suggests that surgery or other treatments for cubital tunnel can improve sleep quality. If you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder and cubital tunnel syndrome, it’s worth discussing with a medical professional whether there’s a connection between the two. You could be eligible to receive VA disability compensation for both.
People with cubital tunnel syndrome also are at increased risk for depression and anxiety. Research also found that use of psychotropic drugs to treat cubital and carpal tunnel syndromes is related to mental health issues. If you have cubital tunnel syndrome and a mental health disorder, there may be a relationship between the conditions.
TDIU for cubital tunnel syndrome
In some cases, a veteran can be awarded total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) benefits for cubital tunnel syndrome. Veterans are eligible for this benefit if they can’t keep “substantially gainful” employment due to their service-connected conditions.
TDIU may be granted for cubital tunnel syndrome alone if the pain is severe enough to keep you from working or if a complete loss of movement in one of both arms makes working gainfully impossible. If you’re unable to carry items or without strength (experiencing numbness) in your hand or in a hand, it could also be challenging to do office work.
TDIU also could be granted for a sleep disorder or mental health condition caused or compounded by cubital tunnel. If you’re unable to sleep and, therefore, can’t safely perform in a workplace, or your mental health keeps you from functioning appropriately on a job, you may be eligible for TDIU.
When veterans receive TDIU, they are compensated at the 100% disability rating level even though their condition is rated below 100%.
Veterans are typically considered eligible for TDIU if they have:
- At least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling OR
- Two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70% or more
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How our VA-accredited attorneys can help
If you have service-connected conditions that affect your ability to live and work, you deserve your full VA disability compensation. Contact Woods and Woods today for a free consultation to see how we can help. You only pay us if we win.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can receive VA disability for cubital tunnel. You’ll need to service connect your cubital tunnel syndrome. Then, the condition will be rated based on how it limits the use of your arm or hand.
No, cubital tunnel and carpal tunnel aren’t the same. They result from damage in two different nerves. Veterans with both carpal and cubital tunnel may be able to receive VA disability for both conditions.
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