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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Military Disability for Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic Pain Syndrome is a catch-all label for any pain that has been present for a long time, normally more than 3 months. Often chronic pain syndrome is diagnosed when the real condition that is causing the pain cannot be identified. This is a problem when it comes to assigning a Military Disability Rating for chronic pain syndrome.

The VASRD does not allow chronic pain syndrome to be rated. Only the condition that causes it can be rated. This means that if you don’t have a definite diagnosis of something else, you may not get your chronic pain syndrome rated at all. Does this make you feel like this guy? It would make me feel like this guy.

Luckily, this isn’t the bottom line. There are a couple of VASRD Principles or Musculoskeletal Principles that may work in your favor.

If your chronic pain syndrome clearly affects the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, joints, etc.), the Painful Motion principle may help you out. Basically, the Painful Motion principle states that the minimum rating a body part can receive if there is pain when it is moved is 10%. So, if your chronic pain syndrome affects your elbow so that when you move it it hurts, you automatically get 10%. You may be able to get even more if the pain limits how much you can move it as well. Limited motion is definitely a ratable condition, and may be the best way to go when the only diagnosis you have is chronic pain syndrome.

The only other way to get chronic pain syndrome rated is to have a very nice group of Rating Authorities deciding your rating. The VASRD does allow ratings to be given for conditions that are not normally given ratings if the condition is extremely disabling. Since chronic pain syndrome is not allowed to be rated, they have the complete right to decide not to rate it at all. They may, however, review all the medical documents and all aspects of your case and decide that the chronic pain syndrome is a big enough disability that you deserve a rating of some sort. They would then choose the code that they think is closest to your chronic pain syndrome and rate your condition under that code.

The problem with this approach is that you have absolutely no way to influence this, and it may be completely impossible for you to get a rating in this way. The laws of the VASRD are there for a reason, and it is the Rating Authorities’ responsibility to uphold those laws. If, however, your case is especially serious, this might just work out for you. Don’t bet on it, though.

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