Common VA Disability Claims: Arthritis

Arthritis can be debilitating, affecting millions of veterans nationwide.

If you’re struggling with this painful condition, you deserve the benefits you’ve earned.

While there are many different causes of arthritis, some are directly related to military service and, therefore, eligible for VA benefits.

Yet, despite it being one of the common disabilities affecting service members, the VA system is so complex that many claims still go denied. This can be incredibly frustrating and discouraging for veterans who are dealing with the pain and limitations of their condition.

If you have been diagnosed with arthritis due to military service, don’t give up hope. With the right support, you can increase your chances of receiving the benefits you need to manage your condition and maintain your quality of life.

At Vetus Legal, our experienced VA disability claims lawyers are here to help you appeal your denied claim and take back the benefits you earned.

Call Vetus Legal now for your FREE consultation.

Common Causes of Service-Related Arthritis

Service-related arthritis can have many causes, including repetitive overuse, traumatic injury, and exposure to certain toxins or chemicals.

Here are some specific factors that can contribute to the development of arthritis in veterans:

  • Injuries — Veterans who have suffered joint injuries during their military service, such as from falls, explosions, or combat, may be at an increased risk of developing arthritis.
  • Exposure to hazardous materials — Exposure to certain hazardous materials may lead to an increased risk of developing arthritis and other chronic health conditions.
  • Prolonged periods of physical activity — Military service can involve prolonged periods of physical activity, such as running, jumping, and carrying heavy equipment, which can lead to joint damage and the development of arthritis over time.

Proving a Service Connection for Arthritis

Veterans diagnosed with arthritis or arthritis-related disabilities may be eligible for disability benefits from VA.

The VA provides disability compensation to veterans with a service-connected disability, meaning a condition or injury that occurred or was aggravated during their military service.

To receive disability benefits for arthritis, veterans must demonstrate that their condition is linked to their military service (which VA calls “service-connected”).

This may involve providing medical evidence of their diagnosis, including treatment records, imaging studies, or other medical reports supporting their VA disability claim.

How Does VA Rate Arthritis?

The VA rates arthritis-related disabilities based on the severity of the condition, ranging from 0% to 100% disability.

The higher the disability rating, the more compensation a veteran is eligible to receive.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has different ways of rating arthritis, depending on the type of arthritis the veteran is diagnosed with. The three most common cases recognized are degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition caused by an autoimmune disorder.

It is subject to the following ratings:

  • 100% rating — If the veteran’s rheumatoid arthritis leads to incapacitation and affects multiple organs and body systems and their joints
  • 60% rating — If the veteran has severe incapacitating episodes four or more times yearly, accompanied by anemia, weight loss, and decreased overall health
  • 40% rating — If the veteran has three or more incapacitating episodes yearly or a medically diagnosed health condition resulting in day-to-day impairment
  • 20% rating — If the veteran has one or two incapacitating episodes yearly and has a well-established diagnosis

Other conditions rated this same way by VA include psoriatic arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, and other similar conditions.

Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis is the most common form of arthritis for veterans and may be caused by overuse or injury.

According to Diagnostic Code 5003, “degenerative arthritis established by X-ray findings will be rated on the basis of limitation of motion for the appropriate diagnostic codes for the specific joint or joints involved.” In simple terms, that means if X-rays show that you have degenerative arthritis, your rating will be based on how limited your range of motion is in the specific joint or joints affected.

Under this diagnostic code, degenerative arthritis ratings include the following:

  • 20% rating — when two or more major joints or groups of minor joints have episodes that cause occasional incapacitating episodes
  • 10% rating — when only one joint or group of joints is affected, and there is evidence of joint pain motion

VA rates the following conditions by the same criteria as for degenerative arthritis: osteoporosis residuals, osteomalacia residuals, bone benign neoplasms, osteitis deformans, bursitis, myositis, heterotopic ossification, tenosynovitis, tendinitis, tendinosis or tendinopathy.


Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. It falls under the same Diagnostic Code 5002 as rheumatoid arthritis, meaning that veterans diagnosed with gout can also receive disability benefits if their condition meets the necessary rating criteria.

Other Types of Arthritis

VA can rate other types of arthritis, such as gonorrheal, pneumococci, typhoid, syphilitic, streptococcic, and other specified forms of arthropathy.

If you are a veteran diagnosed with any of the above types of service-connected arthritis, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. Our experienced attorneys at Vetus Legal can help you gather the necessary evidence to support your VA disability compensation claim for arthritis and ensure you receive the highest possible rating for your condition. Call now.

TDIU Benefits for Arthritis

Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is a way for veterans who are not deemed to be 100% disabled to still be paid at the 100% rate when they have difficulty obtaining or maintaining employment because of one or more service-connected disabilities.

Arthritis alone or in combination with other disability may qualify you for TDIU benefits. TDIU benefits pay veterans at the 100% disability rate, even if their combined rating is less than 100%.

Working With Vetus Legal

If you are a veteran diagnosed with arthritis or arthritis-related disabilities – or any other disability that may be related to your military service – Vetus Legal can help you navigate the VA disability claims process.

We believe every veteran deserves the benefits they are entitled to for their service-related disabilities, and we work to help ensure our clients receive the disability compensation they are entitled to receive.

Contact us today for your FREE consultation.