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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rating Cosmetic Procedures for Military Disability

We’ve had numerous questions about whether or not various cosmetic procedures can be given a Military Disability Rating for military disability.

The short answer: No. Why should the military pay for a procedure that had nothing to do with service and that you chose to have because you wanted to, not because you had to?

But there are some exceptions. Sort of. Let’s discuss a couple of scenarios.
  • The Breasts. There are no cosmetic procedures for the breasts that are ratable by themselves since none can be caused by military service. If, however, a breast reduction is necessary to relieve back pain, then the need for the procedure comes from a condition that can be rated: back pain. The cosmetic procedure cannot be rated, but the back pain can. The removal of the breast because of cancer or other medical problems can also be rated since that is clearly a medical procedure and not just a cosmetic procedure. 

  • Reconstructive Surgery. The only type of cosmetic surgery that can always definitely be rated is reconstructive surgery. Again, though, it is not the procedure itself but the scarring and/or disfigurement that's rated.

  • Conditions/Side Effects caused by Cosmetic Procedures. There is a principle in the VASRD that states that a condition is not ratable if it was treated outside the military medical system unless it was referred outside by the military system. If you underwent a cosmetic procedure outside the military system, then it and any and all complications from it are NOT ratable. The military medical system does do some cosmetic procedures, however. These are not ratable unless they cause serious side effects. The side effects CAN be rated since the military system caused those side effects. This is the only time the DoD and VA will rate conditions caused by a cosmetic procedure. 

Overall, cosmetic procedures are not ratable, but there are some circumstances where a rating can be given. It’s ultimately up to the decision of the Rating Authorities as to what qualifies for a rating and what doesn’t.

If you're cosmetic procedure qualifies for disability but was denied, you can file an appeal. Remember, the best way to have a successful appeal is documentation, documentation, documentation. 

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