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pctinc2001

Bed rest.........

Question

i've been to the va doctors on several occasions with severe back pains. I've noticed that they never assigns bed rest but will give me a note for time off from work. Can I use the Dr's note for time off under their claim to help me when I file for an increase? Or do I just ask for bed rest. 

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Disability criteria for spine issues generally falls under IVDS (i.e. incapacitating episodes/bed rest) or ROM/gait/curvature/etc... The VA will use whichever results in a higher rating.

Your best bet is to check your treatment records/progress notes and see if you have met the criteria for a higher rating. If you have, then it might be worth considering filing an increase. If the date of the doctor's visit was within the last 12 months, the effective date of the increase should match, otherwise it will likely be the day you filed.

Keep in mind that a doctors visit is not the same as a C&P exam or DBQ, both of which would ask additional questions about functional use limitations due to factors like painful motion. For example, if your max ROM was 40 degrees, but pain began when you bend to 30 degrees, then they are supposed to use 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees when adding up your ROM calculations. A visit to a regular VA doctor may or may not include details about functional loss, depending on how much the doc felt like taking down. Potential secondary disabilities, like radiculopathy into arms or legs may also not get in there. You'll just have to check your records to see how much detail was present.

 

 

Here is the spine rating criteria. Be sure to read the Note #'s because they contain additional information which could have bearing on your claim.

§4.71a   Schedule of ratings—musculoskeletal system.

Quote

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 (whther 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.  

eCFR graphic er27au03.003.gif

 

 

 

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