Sciatica is a nerve condition that can cause intense and disabling pain and paralysis throughout the lower part of the body. Many Veterans suffer from this and other back issues related to their time in service, which may qualify them for disability payments based on the severity of their impairment.
Veteran Ratings and our network of consulting professionals can guide you as you gather evidence and documentation if you are considering submitting a sciatica claim to the VA.
Here is what you need to know.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica refers to pain involving a problem with the sciatic nerve. It is the largest nerve in the body, extending from the lower back through the hips and buttocks and down each leg.
When this nerve acts up, pain can be chronic, intense, and debilitating, including symptoms such as:
- Loss of sensation or numbness
- Weak reflexes
- Difficulty walking
- Burning sensation
- Bone spurs
- Weakness when bending the knee.
- Difficulty bending your foot or walking on your toes
- Difficulty bending forward or backward
These and others can affect one or both sides of the body.
Sciatica is usually formally diagnosed after a review of a Veteran’s medical history and an examination by a primary care doctor or an orthopaedist to determine all symptoms and levels of pain. You can work with Veteran Rating’s network of medical professionals to determine your spinal range of motion, balance, posture, pain intensity, reflexes, and more to assess your condition accurately.
Establishing a Service Connection to Sciatica
To receive compensation for a sciatica disability from the Veterans Administration, Veterans must prove their condition is service-connected.
You may be able to make a direct connection to your service and sciatica, or you can secondarily connect your sciatica to another back condition, such as spinal stenosis or herniated discs.
Veteran Ratings can guide Veterans as they gather important documentation related to physical activities while they were on active duty that could have led to back conditions. Daily activities or an incident such as a fall, strain, training sessions, carrying heavy objects, or any notable injury can help substantiate a service-connected claim.
Other medical records can support these records before and after a Veteran’s service to show how a servicemember’s back health changed.
In some cases, a Veteran may be required to complete a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam to determine if you have a service-connected disability. It will also help the VA rate your disability if you have one. A C&P exam is only required for someone filing for the first time, and you can also utilize the Veteran Ratings partner network of medical professionals for this exam.
How the VA Determines Disability Ratings for Sciatica
Sciatic nerve conditions are rated in three categories based on the severity of symptoms. These three categories are Paralysis, Neuritis, and Neuralgia.
Each category has sub-categories such as mild, moderate, and severe symptoms. Based on a medical diagnosis and other supporting evidence, Veterans are placed in one of these categories, which is used as the basis for a disability rating percentage.
It is possible to be rated for sciatica only or under other limited motion impairments as well. If sciatica causes limited motion you will be rated for only that condition. However, if your limited motion is caused by something else, you can be rated both for your sciatica and your limited motion.
Let’s take a closer look at each category.
This is the most severe form of sciatica and occurs when the sciatic nerve does not function at all. Veterans can qualify for ratings from 10% to 80% based on the following.
- 80% – Complete paralysis is diagnosed if the foot drops and can’t be lifted by the leg, all the muscles in the leg below the knee do not work, and the knee has serious trouble bending
- 60% – Severe muscle atrophy, poor blood circulation, and or limited functionality of affected body parts.
- 40% – Incomplete paralysis that is moderately severe
- 20% – Incomplete paralysis with moderate symptoms
- 10% – Incomplete mild paralysis symptoms
The sciatic nerve functions, but it is swollen, painful, and irritated. It has a diminished capacity to sense, accompanied by muscle atrophy or a loss of reflexes. Disability ratings include the following.
- 60% – Severe neuritis includes a loss of reflexes and sensation, muscle atrophy, and severely limited function.
- 40% – Moderately severe symptoms are present
- 20% – Mild symptoms are present.
The sciatic nerve is constantly or occasionally painful, with numbness or tingling symptoms. Disability ratings include the following.
- 20% – Moderate tingling, numbness, moderate to severe pain, and interference with the affected limb’s function.
- 10% – Mild tinging, pain, and interference with limb’s function.
Bilateral sciatica can affect both sides of the body and is a factor that will be added to your overall combined disability rating.
The VA will give you a disability rating for each service-connected medical problem that ranks the severity of your condition from zero to 100%. Although the highest disability rating you can get for sciatica is 80%, when combined with other service-connected disabilities, you may be able to get a 100% rating.
Current VA Disability Rates for Sciatica
Your monthly Veterans disability compensation payment amount is based on your disability rating and details about dependent family members. If you have a 10% disability rating, you will not receive additional benefits if you have a dependent spouse, child, or parent. Also, when a dependent spouse receives Aid and Attendance, you will receive an additional amount over your base disability payment.
Here are some examples of what to expect after a claim is approved.
With a 10% disability rating in 2023, you would receive $165.92 monthly. That amount does not change regardless of your dependent family member status.
With a 40% rating, Veterans receive a base of $731.86. If a Veteran has two dependent children, that amount jumps to $785.86. A married Veteran with two dependent parents will receive $940.86.
With an 80% rating, a married Veteran with one child will receive $2213.15 in 2023. A married Veteran with two dependent parents and a child will receive $2472.15.
Rates change annually due to cost of living increases, including an 8.7% bump up for 2023.
You can view the VA’s complete schedule of disability ratings and corresponding payments to better understand what to expect when you’re approved.
Preparing a Strong Sciatica Disability Claim
To ensure the best chance for the highest disability rating, Veterans must have a qualified medical professional diagnosis and show proof that they developed sciatica or other back conditions after serving in the military.
Veteran Ratings can pair you up with a Veteran consulting partner who can guide you in what evidence and documentation is needed. We have a 95% success rate in assisting Veterans with their initial claim submissions.
When you meet with us for a free consultation and subsequently work with medical professionals in our partner’s nationwide network of providers, you will save time and gain peace of mind knowing you are creating your best chance for approval.