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Sciatica VA Rating: Maximize Your Benefits

Sciatica is a common condition among Americans, with about four of every 10 people being affected by sciatica pain at some point in their lives. Given the nature of their work, military service members are even more likely to experience sciatica symptoms. These can be the basis for making a claim for service-connected disability through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), for which about one million veterans are receiving VA benefits.

The expert VA Disability Lawyers at Stone Rose Law know about sciatica and how to get you the benefits you deserve if you are suffering from it. If you need help with your sciatica VA disability benefits claim, then contact Stone Rose Law. We offer free legal consultations to veterans filing VA disability benefits claims. For assistance, just fill out the contact form here or call (480) 498-8998.

What is the VA Disability Rating For Sciatica?

The VA rates sciatica as a nerve-related disability resulting from paralysis, neurologic neuritis, or neuralgia. We examine these conditions, and some of their varying sub-conditions, next.

Sciatica Symptoms

Sciatic nerve damage can cause lower back pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. In more severe cases, sciatica can lead to chronic nerve damage, urinary or bowel incontinence, partial paralysis, and even complete paralysis.

sciatica symptoms

In most cases, sciatica symptoms happen on only one side of your body, but they can manifest on both sides. Some specific signs of sciatica include:

  • Numbness in your legs or lower back
  • Muscle weakness
  • A burning or tingling sensation in your leg or lower back
  • A sharp pain that runs along the sciatic nerve
  • Inability to move feet and legs
  • Debilitating pain when sitting or standing
  • Having trouble standing or walking for extended periods
  • Experiencing pain after you cough or sneeze

Paralysis of the Sciatic Nerve

Paralysis, often caused by severe symptoms of nerve irritation or nerve damage, is the most severe category of sciatica. Paralysis from sciatica can result in you losing muscle strength in your legs, the affected limb’s functionality, or both.

va rating for paralysis of the sciatic nerve

Here is how the VA rates paralysis of the sciatic nerve:

  • 10 percent rating: You are experiencing mild, incomplete paralysis of your leg muscles.
  • 20 percent rating: You suffer from moderate incomplete paralysis of your leg muscles, along with moderate pain.
  • 40 percent rating: You experience incomplete, moderately severe paralysis that affects the range of motion in your knees.
  • 60 percent rating: Here you are experiencing incomplete but severe paralysis that affects your blood circulation and leads to leg muscle atrophy.
  • 80 percent rating: Sciatic nerve paralysis happens when all the muscles of your leg below the knee fail, making it hard to bend your knee.

Neuritis of the Sciatic Nerve

Neuritis can result from injury to a muscle or inflammation of peripheral nerves surrounding the sciatic nerve. This can lead to increasing amounts of sciatic pain; in its most severe form, you can experience loss of sensation, limited limb function, and muscular atrophy.

va rating for neuritis of the sciatic nerve

The VA allows for the following disability ratings for sciatic neuritis: this is identified by the loss of reflexes and sensations, muscular atrophy, and extremely limited function of the affected body part

  • 10 percent rating: Mild neuritis.
  • 20 percent rating: Moderate neuritis.
  • 30 percent rating: Moderately severe neuritis.
  • 60 percent rating: Severe neuritis.

Neuralgia of the Sciatic Nerve

The least severe kind of sciatic nerve condition is sciatic nerve neuralgia, which is the result of nerve and muscle inflammation. If you suffer from this condition, you can experience tingling sensations, numbness, and mild to severe pain.

va rating for neuralgia of the sciatic nerve

Here are the VA disability ratings for sciatic neuralgia:

  • 10 percent rating: You suffer from mild neuralgia that interferes with your leg function, but the effects are minor.
  • 20 percent rating: You experience moderate neuralgia that involves moderate to severe pain, tingling, and numbness and interferes with your leg functionality.

Note: There is no VA disability rating for severe neuralgia.

Other Sciatica-Related Conditions

Aside from sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy––the condition underlying your sciatic nerve pain––could in some situations qualify as a separate medical condition. If you are experiencing both conditions, then you might be able to combine the sciatica rating with the lumbar radiculopathy rating.

Bilateral Sciatica VA Rating

Sciatica normally affects only one side of your body. But if you suffer another disabling injury or condition to your other leg, this combination might qualify you for VA benefits under the bilateral rating rule.

Bilateral ratings are for injuries that occur on both sides of your upper or lower limbs, but the combination must be both arms or both legs; the bilateral factor does not apply to left and right combinations on one arm and one leg. 

As long as the injuries to both sides of your body are on the same top or bottom side as an imaginary line drawn at your waist, then the bilateral factor may apply.

If it applies to you, the bilateral factor will combine separately your parallel left and right side disabilities into a combined rating, then adds 10 percent to that combined rating.

Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) and Sciatica

If the VA rates your sciatica condition at 60 percent or more, or if your sciatica is one of multiple disabilities (one of which must be at least a 40 percent disability rating) that taken together give a combined rating of at least 70 percent, then you could qualify for TDIU benefits.

TDIU applies when your disability or combined disabilities keep you from getting or keeping substantially gainful employment.

Ratings for Additional Medical Attention

If the severity of your sciatica means that you must be hospitalized or require ongoing medical treatment, then your disability rating for sciatica will be 100 percent during your treatment. This rating will continue for at least three months after you complete the course of treatment. Upon the expiration of this additional time, the VA will reassess your sciatica condition and assign you a new disability rating.

How to File a VA Disability Claim For Sciatica

Making an initial VA disability benefits claim for sciatica involves the following steps:

  1. You need to have a current medical diagnosis for some form of sciatica.
  2. You must establish a service connection to your sciatica condition.
  3. Through your doctor, you need to document the service connection through a nexus letter.

Establishing a VA Service Connection For Sciatica

The demands of military service provide many ways for you to develop sciatica. Common causes of service-connected disabilities in many veterans include back injuries and over-exertion, but you can also acquire the condition by being sidelined for an extended period because of a separate injury.

A good way to prove a service connection for sciatica is if you have military medical records of diagnosis. You can also use supporting documentation like written statements from family members, friends, coworkers, and former fellow servicemembers to help describe your symptoms and their effects on you.

VA C&P Exam For Sciatica

The VA uses compensation and pension (C&P) exams when it needs more information to establish a service connection to your sciatica disability and to assess the severity of the condition. During this exam, a VA examiner will ask you questions about your condition and likely perform a physical exam on you.

Sciatica as a Secondary Disability

Sciatica often is a follow-on condition caused by other injuries, like a herniated disc or other service-connected back condition. If you experience an injury, like a back injury, that itself qualifies you for a VA claim for disability benefits, then if you also develop sciatica symptoms these can qualify for benefits as a secondary disability.

Some specific kinds of injuries and conditions that can lead to sciatica include:

  • Spinal injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Paralysis
  • Diabetes
  • Back tumors

Speak With an Experienced VA Benefits Lawyer About Sciatica

If you’ve experienced symptoms of sciatica from your military service, need to make an adjustment to existing VA disability compensation benefits for sciatica, or need to appeal a VA benefits claim denial, then talk to a VA veterans advocate from the Stone Rose Law Firm today by calling (480) 498-8998. Our initial consultations for military veterans are free and confidential.