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    • I know what you mean. It took me about three years to go from 40% to 90% and then another year to hit 100% (backdated to original EED from five years earlier). The 90% hurdle is just probably the toughest for most veterans. It is pretty bad when the VA fails to read records properly (even typed ones) and causes all sorts of unnecessary anxiety and stress in the process. Despite still having heart issues, I have not won SC yet. The docs pulled me off of one heart medication that was actually making the problem worse and it put me into the 0% category. However, I do have two other claims that I know can be increased if I filed now. One would go from 30% to 40% and the other from 30% to 50%. I talk with my wife periodically about filing for all three, but she doesn't want me to rock the boat. She told me to wait until I retire.
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Schedule Of Rating -- Back Injury

7 posts in this topic

Does anyone know what the diagnostic code is for a back injury/pain?

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Lumbago Low back pain, low back syndrome, lumbalgia 724.2

Sprains and strains of Lumbosacral region 846.0 or maybe 847.2

Sciatica 724.3

These are some but there's many others, depends on the actual words on the diagnosis.

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Lumbago Low back pain, low back syndrome, lumbalgia 724.2

Sprains and strains of Lumbosacral region 846.0 or maybe 847.2

Sciatica 724.3

These are some but there's many others, depends on the actual words on the diagnosis.

Those look like ICD9 codes. If she means Diagnostic Codes from the ratings schedule, they're going to be found in 38 CFR 4.71a.

The Spine

Rating

General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine

(For diagnostic codes 5235 to 5243 unless 5243 is evaluated under the Formula for Rating

Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes):

With or without symptoms such as pain (whether or not it radiates), stiffness, or aching in the area of the spine affected by residuals of injury or disease

Unfavorable ankylosis of the entire spine 100

Unfavorable ankylosis of the entire thoracolumbar spine 50

Unfavorable ankylosis of the entire cervical spine; or, forward flexion

of the thoracolumbar spine 30 degrees or less; or, favorable ankylosis of

the entire thoracolumbar spine 40

Forward flexion of the cervical spine 15 degrees or less; or, favorable

ankylosis of the entire cervical spine 30

Forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine greater than 30 degrees but not

greater than 60 degrees; or, forward flexion of the cervical spine greater

than 15 degrees but not greater than 30 degrees; or, the combined range of

motion of the thoracolumbar spine not greater than 120 degrees; or, the

combined range of motion of the cervical spine not greater than 170 degrees;

or, muscle spasm or guarding severe enough to result in an abnormal gait

or abnormal spinal contour such as scoliosis, reversed lordosis, or

abnormal kyphosis 20

Forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine greater than 60 degrees but not

greater than 85 degrees; or, forward flexion of the cervical spine greater than

30 degrees but not greater than 40 degrees; or, combined range of motion of

the thoracolumbar spine greater than 120 degrees but not greater than 235

degrees; or, combined range of motion of the cervical spine greater than

170 degrees but not greater than 335 degrees; or, muscle spasm, guarding,

or localized tenderness not resulting in abnormal gait or abnormal spinal

contour; or, vertebral body fracture with loss of 50 percent or more of the

height 10

Note (1): Evaluate any associated objective neurologic abnormalities, including, but not limited to, bowel or bladder impairment, separately, under an appropriate diagnostic code.

Note (2): (See also Plate V.) For VA compensation purposes, normal forward flexion of the cervical spine is zero to 45 degrees, extension is zero to 45 degrees, left and right lateral flexion are zero to 45 degrees, and left and right lateral rotation are zero to 80 degrees. Normal forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine is zero to 90 degrees, extension is zero to 30 degrees, left and right lateral flexion are zero to 30 degrees, and left and right lateral rotation are zero to 30 degrees. The combined range of motion refers to the sum of the range of forward flexion, extension, left and right lateral flexion, and left and right rotation. The normal combined range of motion of the cervical spine is 340 degrees and of the thoracolumbar spine is 240 degrees. The normal ranges of motion for each component of spinal motion provided in this note are the maximum that can be used for calculation of the combined range of motion.

Note (3): In exceptional cases, an examiner may state that because of age, body habitus, neurologic disease, or other factors not the result of disease or injury of the spine, the range of motion of the spine in a particular individual should be considered normal for that individual, even though it does not conform to the normal range of motion stated in Note (2). Provided that the examiner supplies an explanation, the examiner’s assessment that the range of motion is normal for that individual will be accepted.

Note (4): Round each range of motion measurement to the nearest five degrees.

Note (5): For VA compensation purposes, unfavorable ankylosis is a condition in which the entire cervical spine, the entire thoracolumbar spine, or the entire spine is fixed in flexion or extension, and the ankylosis results in one or more of the following: difficulty walking because of a limited line of vision; restricted opening of the mouth and chewing; breathing limited to diaphragmatic respiration; gastrointestinal symptoms due to pressure of the costal margin on the abdomen; dyspnea or dysphagia; atlantoaxial or cervical subluxation or dislocation; or neurologic symptoms due to nerve root stretching. Fixation of a spinal segment in neutral position (zero degrees) always represents favorable ankylosis.

Note (6): Separately evaluate disability of the thoracolumbar and cervical spine segments, except when there is unfavorable ankylosis of both segments, which will be rated as a single disability.

5235 Vertebral fracture or dislocation

5236 Sacroiliac injury and weakness

5237 Lumbosacral or cervical strain

5238 Spinal stenosis

5239 Spondylolisthesis or segmental instability

5240 Ankylosing spondylitis

5241 Spinal fusion

5242 Degenerative arthritis of the spine (see also diagnostic code 5003)

5243 Intervertebral disc syndrome

Evaluate intervertebral disc syndrome (preoperatively or postoperatively) either under the General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine or under the Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes, whichever method results in the higher evaluation when all disabilities are combined under §4.25.

Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 6 weeks during the

past 12 months 60

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 4 weeks but less than

6 weeks during the past 12 months 40

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 2 weeks but less than

4 weeks during the past 12 months 20

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least one week but less than

2 weeks during the past 12 months 10

Note (1): For purposes of evaluations under diagnostic code 5243, an incapacitating episode is a period of acute signs and symptoms due to intervertebral disc syndrome that requires bed rest prescribed by a physician and treatment by a physician.

Note (2): If intervertebral disc syndrome is present in more than one spinal segment, provided that the effects in each spinal segment are clearly distinct, evaluate each segment on the basis of incapacitating episodes or under the General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine, whichever method results in a higher evaluation for that segment.

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Thats what I needed James. Thanks a lot! Also, I read somewhere that (diagnostic code 5237 Lumbosacral or cervical strain) had been changed to 5295. Is that true? Where can I get a schedule of rating?

And.... Oh yeah.... she is a he... :P

Those look like ICD9 codes. If she means Diagnostic Codes from the ratings schedule, they're going to be found in 38 CFR 4.71a.

The Spine

Rating

General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine

(For diagnostic codes 5235 to 5243 unless 5243 is evaluated under the Formula for Rating

Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes):

With or without symptoms such as pain (whether or not it radiates), stiffness, or aching in the area of the spine affected by residuals of injury or disease

Unfavorable ankylosis of the entire spine 100

Unfavorable ankylosis of the entire thoracolumbar spine 50

Unfavorable ankylosis of the entire cervical spine; or, forward flexion

of the thoracolumbar spine 30 degrees or less; or, favorable ankylosis of

the entire thoracolumbar spine 40

Forward flexion of the cervical spine 15 degrees or less; or, favorable

ankylosis of the entire cervical spine 30

Forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine greater than 30 degrees but not

greater than 60 degrees; or, forward flexion of the cervical spine greater

than 15 degrees but not greater than 30 degrees; or, the combined range of

motion of the thoracolumbar spine not greater than 120 degrees; or, the

combined range of motion of the cervical spine not greater than 170 degrees;

or, muscle spasm or guarding severe enough to result in an abnormal gait

or abnormal spinal contour such as scoliosis, reversed lordosis, or

abnormal kyphosis 20

Forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine greater than 60 degrees but not

greater than 85 degrees; or, forward flexion of the cervical spine greater than

30 degrees but not greater than 40 degrees; or, combined range of motion of

the thoracolumbar spine greater than 120 degrees but not greater than 235

degrees; or, combined range of motion of the cervical spine greater than

170 degrees but not greater than 335 degrees; or, muscle spasm, guarding,

or localized tenderness not resulting in abnormal gait or abnormal spinal

contour; or, vertebral body fracture with loss of 50 percent or more of the

height 10

Note (1): Evaluate any associated objective neurologic abnormalities, including, but not limited to, bowel or bladder impairment, separately, under an appropriate diagnostic code.

Note (2): (See also Plate V.) For VA compensation purposes, normal forward flexion of the cervical spine is zero to 45 degrees, extension is zero to 45 degrees, left and right lateral flexion are zero to 45 degrees, and left and right lateral rotation are zero to 80 degrees. Normal forward flexion of the thoracolumbar spine is zero to 90 degrees, extension is zero to 30 degrees, left and right lateral flexion are zero to 30 degrees, and left and right lateral rotation are zero to 30 degrees. The combined range of motion refers to the sum of the range of forward flexion, extension, left and right lateral flexion, and left and right rotation. The normal combined range of motion of the cervical spine is 340 degrees and of the thoracolumbar spine is 240 degrees. The normal ranges of motion for each component of spinal motion provided in this note are the maximum that can be used for calculation of the combined range of motion.

Note (3): In exceptional cases, an examiner may state that because of age, body habitus, neurologic disease, or other factors not the result of disease or injury of the spine, the range of motion of the spine in a particular individual should be considered normal for that individual, even though it does not conform to the normal range of motion stated in Note (2). Provided that the examiner supplies an explanation, the examiner's assessment that the range of motion is normal for that individual will be accepted.

Note (4): Round each range of motion measurement to the nearest five degrees.

Note (5): For VA compensation purposes, unfavorable ankylosis is a condition in which the entire cervical spine, the entire thoracolumbar spine, or the entire spine is fixed in flexion or extension, and the ankylosis results in one or more of the following: difficulty walking because of a limited line of vision; restricted opening of the mouth and chewing; breathing limited to diaphragmatic respiration; gastrointestinal symptoms due to pressure of the costal margin on the abdomen; dyspnea or dysphagia; atlantoaxial or cervical subluxation or dislocation; or neurologic symptoms due to nerve root stretching. Fixation of a spinal segment in neutral position (zero degrees) always represents favorable ankylosis.

Note (6): Separately evaluate disability of the thoracolumbar and cervical spine segments, except when there is unfavorable ankylosis of both segments, which will be rated as a single disability.

5235 Vertebral fracture or dislocation

5236 Sacroiliac injury and weakness

5237 Lumbosacral or cervical strain

5238 Spinal stenosis

5239 Spondylolisthesis or segmental instability

5240 Ankylosing spondylitis

5241 Spinal fusion

5242 Degenerative arthritis of the spine (see also diagnostic code 5003)

5243 Intervertebral disc syndrome

Evaluate intervertebral disc syndrome (preoperatively or postoperatively) either under the General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine or under the Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes, whichever method results in the higher evaluation when all disabilities are combined under §4.25.

Formula for Rating Intervertebral Disc Syndrome Based on Incapacitating Episodes

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 6 weeks during the

past 12 months 60

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 4 weeks but less than

6 weeks during the past 12 months 40

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 2 weeks but less than

4 weeks during the past 12 months 20

With incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least one week but less than

2 weeks during the past 12 months 10

Note (1): For purposes of evaluations under diagnostic code 5243, an incapacitating episode is a period of acute signs and symptoms due to intervertebral disc syndrome that requires bed rest prescribed by a physician and treatment by a physician.

Note (2): If intervertebral disc syndrome is present in more than one spinal segment, provided that the effects in each spinal segment are clearly distinct, evaluate each segment on the basis of incapacitating episodes or under the General Rating Formula for Diseases and Injuries of the Spine, whichever method results in a higher evaluation for that segment.

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Never mind. I found the answer. 5237 is still good.

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Thats what I needed James. Thanks a lot! Also, I read somewhere that (diagnostic code 5237 Lumbosacral or cervical strain) had been changed to 5295. Is that true? Where can I get a schedule of rating?

And.... Oh yeah.... she is a he... :P

The best place outside of the VA internal computer system is the Electronic CFR. Code of Federal Regulations. Go to http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov and you want Title 38, Part 4. Part 4 is the "rating schedule". It's got all the regulations for applying the rating schedule, and separate sections for each body system. You want 38 CFR 4.71a, which is the Musculoskeletal system. Scroll down till you get to the section on the Spine, and there it is, complete with helpful graphics to show the normal ranges of motion.

If I recall correctly, 5295 is an old code for a back strain. Now we use the modern codes which are found in the current rating schedule. If you were rated under the old code, the VA can't reduce your rating under the new code as long as you still meet the criteria for the new code. Any claims for increases would have to be under the new code, of course.

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