Military Neck is a disability that is more than a stiff neck. It is when a person, often a veteran, loses flexibility and looks like they are always standing at attention.
VA disability benefits help cover expenses for former military members who suffered injuries or illnesses during their time in the service. Benefits cover a wide range of conditions, many of which people might not even realize qualify. Life in the military can be hard on a person’s body, and sometimes in ways that extend beyond severe traumatic injuries. For instance, VA disabilities may apply to brown recluse spider bites or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Military neck is one of many disabilities that can qualify for benefits.
VA disability benefits can improve a veteran’s quality of life when past conditions make it difficult for them to work. Neck injuries, including military neck or cervical kyphosis, can cause severe life-altering impacts on a person’s ability to function in their job and other facets of their life.
In this article about Military Neck VA ratings:
If you have a neck injury related to your time in the military, you might qualify for VA disability benefits. The payments you can recover will vary depending on the severity and nature of your injury. You might be able to recover hundreds of dollars a month that can supplement your income and help you support yourself and your dependents. The payments veterans collect in disability checks are tax-free and can greatly improve your quality of life.
Neck injuries can occur in the military and outside of service. It is important that you will be able to link your condition to your time in, so that the VA will approve of your disability claim. Building your case can be challenging, and sometimes the VA can deny valid claims or undervalue them, leaving you without the help you need. You need to know your rights and remember that a VA disability attorney can advocate for you to recover the benefits you deserve.
What is Military Neck?
Military neck is a common name for cervical kyphosis. The name is not related to the cause of this condition but the symptoms. A normal spine is curved and not straight. Certain injuries, illnesses, and behaviors can cause a person to lose that natural curvature, which leads to pain and potential secondary conditions. Military neck is the name given to the condition because it causes the person to look as though they are “standing at attention.”
The cervical spine includes the vertebrae at the top of the spine, and it makes up your neck. Below the cervical spine is the thoracic spine, and at the bottom is the lumbar spine. It is possible to experience conditions that impact any or all of these parts of your spine, and sometimes a flaw in one part can lead to injuries in the other parts. Military neck, or cervical kyphosis, is specific to the upper part of the spine.
Although military neck is not a condition limited to the military, many veterans may have developed this ailment while serving. If you developed military neck because of your time in the military, you should investigate whether you have a disability claim.
How Military Neck Develops and What it Causes
Military neck can originate because of various factors. If you have poor posture, you are more at risk of developing military neck. In fact, some people suffer from this condition because of their position when they sleep. Sitting at a computer screen can also cause you to suffer from cervical kyphosis. It can start as cervicalgia, which is the medical term for neck pain. Military neck is more than just neck pain.
Bodily trauma, such as a car crash, fall, or sports-related accident, can also lead to cervical kyphosis. These injuries can lead to your ligaments’ tearing, causing the spine to lose its natural curve. When this occurs, the spinal cavity may become narrow, which might even lead to a neurological problem. Your initial injury might heal, but in a way that fails to maintain the shape of a healthy spine.
Degenerative disc diseases, intragenic disorder, and congenital disorders can all lead to this condition even in the absence of any traumatic injury. The severity of your injury may only get worse over time.
You might experience a wide range of symptoms from military neck, including stiffness, a limited range of motion, muscle weakness, coordination troubles, pain in the neck, pain in the extremities, and headaches. If your condition is severe enough, you could suffer from paralysis or lose control of your bowel and bladder. Some cases also involve trouble swallowing or even breathing. But don’t worry, treatments can often prevent the worst symptoms from developing.
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Even in less serious cases, military neck can cause severe impacts on your quality of life and ability to perform your job. Treatments may include rehabilitation or surgery, which may further impact your life and ability to work.
Diagnosis and Seeking Disability Benefits
If you have the symptoms of military neck, you may wonder how you can get the benefits that you need. One of the first steps will be to ensure that you have the correct diagnosis. A doctor can diagnose your condition based on observations of your neck. Sometimes your physician will be able to see the abnormalities in your spine based on your posture. Doctors sometimes also check a person’s flexibility and balance. Imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs also work to inform doctors regarding the existence of a condition like military neck.
This condition can occur in civilians, so it will be important for you to link your condition to your time in the military. Perhaps your duties led to the injury or made your condition worse. Either way, you should be able to recover benefits if your time in the service contributed to your case of military neck. Linking your condition to your time in the service may be as simple as indicating that your doctor diagnosed you with the condition while you were in the military. There is no requirement that your injury is related to time in combat or even related to the work you were engaged in while in the service.
While people may associate military disabilities with traumatic injuries, there is no requirement that you suffered in any form of accident or trauma. If your position involved lengthy hours sitting in front of a computer and you developed military neck as a result, you can seek VA disability benefits. Injuries caused by repeated motions or sitting at a desk can be equally as debilitating as many traumatic injuries. If your neck makes it difficult for you to work or live your life, you should consider filing a claim.
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.
The VA Disability Benefits Chart and Military Neck
The VA disability benefits chart details the benefits available for various conditions. The more severely injured or ill you are, the more likely it is that you will recover a higher amount of benefits. The chart breaks down based on the percent disabled a person is because of a condition. If the VA finds that your condition qualifies as ten-percent disabled, then the benefits will be fairly modest compared to a person the VA declares 80 percent disabled.
The chart includes detailed information regarding how the VA will decide what percentage to assign. When it comes to neck conditions, the VA looks to the range of motion when determining the degree of disability. If your cervical spine is completely immobile, that should lead to a 40 percent disability determination. The VA looks at patients with completely immobile spines as 100 percent disabled. Lesser degrees of immobility will lead to lower percentages and lower benefits.
The VA disability benefits payments also involve higher amounts for veterans with dependents. Veterans who have children under eighteen or who care for their parents will be able to recover higher sums each month than those who are only responsible for caring for themselves.
Veterans who can’t hold down a steady job that supports them financially (known as substantially gainful employment) because of their service-connected disabilities are 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
The difference between a 40 percent disability rating and a 60 percent rating will amount to hundreds of dollars every month, so it is important to ensure that the VA does not underrate your disability.
There are many different conditions that can impact your neck, which might mimic military neck or occur simultaneously. Other neck conditions may also qualify for benefits, but it will be important to find out from which particular condition or conditions you are suffering.
When the VA Denies a Neck Injury Claim
Veterans who file disability claims often find that the VA denies their request. There are many reasons that the VA might deny benefits, some of which are technical such as a missed deadline. Other times, the VA will dispute certain facts related to the claim. For instance, if the VA believes that your military neck is a condition you developed after your time in the service, they will state that you do not qualify for coverage.
The VA might also find that your neck pain is not severe enough for you to claim that you are disabled. Determinations that deny your condition might be the result of inadequate medical documentation. If your doctor does not adequately explain the extent of your injury or fails to link your ailment to your time in the service properly, the VA may deny your claim. Your doctor must understand that they must use specific language when diagnosing the condition and its cause in order for the VA to accept your claim.
The VA might also state that your injury is only minor and causes a ten percent disability when the pain is debilitating and should qualify for a higher rating. In any of these cases, you may wish to appeal the VA’s decision and seek the benefits or the higher amount of benefits to which you are entitled. Remember that the difference in determinations can add up over time.
Here, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about what we do when we appeal your case to the Veteran’s Administration.
Finding a Legal Advocate for Military Neck
If you have questions regarding cervical kyphosis VA disability, you might need to consult with a legal representative. Appealing a claim can be complicated, and there is a lot on the line. Denial of disability benefits is not the final word on your claim. Contacting an attorney will help you learn how best to assert your rights.
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.
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The VA gives ratings more on symptoms than the actual diagnosis. If you make your symptoms clear to your doctor and at the C&P Exam, they will have to fit your condition into the closest rating they can find. The specific diagnosis may affect if it is a permanent rating or not, so make sure you have a lawyer help you understand what to present to the VA.
Probably not. Your neck and back pain will be viewed as one single condition. Range of Movement is a key measure of the severity of your disability. If your neck is frozen or can’t move very far, you’ll be entitled to a higher rating. Full movement with a pain would be rated as a pain problem more than a joint movement problem.