VA Disability Benefits and Ratings for Ankle Instability (2023)

If you sustained an ankle injury during military service, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. This may also be true if you had an existing ankle injury that was aggravated by active duty service. By gathering evidence and proving service connection, you may be able to present a favorable VA disability claim.

What Is Ankle Instability?

Ankle instability is a chronic condition that is often caused by an acute injury such as an ankle sprain. There are two types of ankle instability: mechanical and functional. Mechanical instability occurs when the ankle is physically unstable and unable to be weight-bearing. Functional instability refers to a feeling that the ankle may “give out” at any time.

Ankle instability can cause pain and may make it hard to engage in everyday activities, especially those that involve being on your feet. Some of the symptoms of ankle instability include:

  • Inability to walk without fear of rolling the ankle
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Loss of balance
  • Walking with a limp

Not every incident will include all of the symptoms listed above, and there may be other issues caused by this condition. Some ankle injuries will also cause frozen ankle joints, limitation of motion, or interference with normal range of motion.

VA Disability Benefits and Ratings for Ankle Instability (1)

Service Connection for Ankle Instability

The key to obtaining a VA disability rating for ankle instability is to prove service connection. Proving a direct service connection is the most common way to do this. There are three elements necessary for a successful direct service connection claim. These are:

  1. A Current Diagnosis:You must have a recent diagnosis of ankle instability by a medical practitioner.
  2. In-Service Occurrence or Incident that Caused or Aggravated Claim:You must be able to point out an incident, accident, or series of events that led to the injury or an aggravation of an existing injury. Examples of occurrences that lead to ankle instability may include a slip and fall injury; rolling your ankle while marching, running, or walking in service; or injuring your ankle in active combat.
  3. Medical Nexus Connecting the Disability to the Occurrence:Your doctor or other medical professionals must be able to connect the stated occurrence with the resulting ankle instability.

Secondary Service Connection for Ankle Instability

Another way of obtaining a VA rating for ankle instability is by proving a secondary service connection. A secondary service connection occurs when you can connect your ankle instability with another service-connected injury or issue.

For instance, you may have broken your right foot during combat (the service-connected injury). However, later on, you may have developed ankle instability on the left ankle. If your doctor can prove that the ankle instability on the left side was caused due to you favoring your right ankle because of your broken foot, that could prove secondary service connection for your ankle instability. This is one way that injuries that occur after service can still have service-connection.

VA Disability Benefits and Ratings for Ankle Instability (2)

Service Connection by Aggravation for Ankle Instability

If you were diagnosed with ankle instability before you entered active service, it may still be possible to prove service connection to receive VA disability benefits. This would occur if your ankle instability was aggravated by something that occurred during service. For example, the physical requirements of military service, like training and combat, could have make an existing ankle injury worse. In this case, you may be able to obtain service connection by aggravation—a valid type of service connection, according to the VA.

(Video) VA Disability Ratings for Ankle Conditions

Compensation & Pension (C&P) Exams for Ankle Instability

After you file a claim through the Veteran’s Administration, the VA may ask you to have a . It is vitally important that you show up to your scheduled C&P exam or reschedule if you are unable to attend. This exam may be a requirement for your ankle instability rating.

A C&P exam is a basic medical exam focused on your ankle instability. The doctor in charge of the exam will assess your injury, talk to you about your medical history as it relates to this case, and determine if its service connection applies.

Veterans should keep in mind that they have the right to the . However, you might not receive these results if you don’t ask for them. Having the details of the exam will be helpful if you receive an unfavorable result and plan to appeal your claim for higher disability compensation.

Evidence for Ankle Disability Claims and Appealing Under the AMA System

VA Disability Benefits and Ratings for Ankle Instability (3)

When you receive an unfavorable disability rating, you have a number of options available to you to appeal the claim. In these cases you may need to put together a number of details to appeal. These details can include information from your medical doctor as well as laypersons who have details about your injury. You may obtain evidence from fellow military service members, as well as others who can provide evidence that you have suffered from ongoing ankle instability and that it affects you in your day to day life. If the ankle injury prevents you from working, details from your employer may be helpful too.

After submitting this evidence to the VA, you may be able to fill out a notice of disagreement (NOD) to request an appeal. If the appeal process moves forward, you will have the chance to provide additional evidence supporting your claim.

VADisability Ratings for Ankle Instability

The VA rating schedule for joint problems, including ankle instability, is based on the range of motion as well as other specific criteria that affect the joints and musculoskeletal system. The VA may require documentation that shows the range of motion of the ankle. This documentation may include medical records, notes from a medical practitioner, or physical evidence like x-ray images.

In many cases, ankle instability itself would receive a rating of between 0 and 20% on the rating schedule. However, the ankle instability may occur in conjunction with other issues, such as knee pain, and leg pain. The VA might note the presence of other conditions and award the veteran an even higher VA disability rating. Arthritis of the ankle joint is a common condition that can occur with ankle instability. Arthritis and ankle instability together might lead to a higher disability rating.

Have Questions About Your VADisability Rating For Ankle Instability?

If you are experiencing an ongoing ankle injury or functional loss of the joint, it can be frustrating if your VA benefits claim is denied or awarded a low rating. If you are struggling to obtain adequate veterans benefits, contact the team at Hill & Ponton. Our team of veterans disability and social security disability attorneys will work with you to build an effective VA claim or appeal your current rating. Hit the red button above for a free case evaluation.

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VA Disability Benefits and Ratings for Ankle Instability? ›

Ankle instability is usually rated under 38 CFR

38 CFR
Title 38 is the principal set of rules and regulations issued by federal agencies of the United States regarding pensions, bonuses, and veterans' relief. It is available in digital and printed form, and can be referenced online using the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR). › wiki › Title_38_of_the_Code_of_Fe...
§ 4.71, Schedule of Ratings – Musculoskeletal System, Diagnostic Code (DC) 5271. Under DC 5271, ankle instability is rated according to limited motion of the ankle. The rating criteria is as follows: 20% – marked limitation of motion.

What is the VA disability rating for ankles? ›

Limitation of motion of an ankle is rated under Diagnostic Code 5271. The veteran is currently rated as 10 percent disabling for each ankle disability. Such a rating is warranted for moderate limited motion. The highest rating available under this Code is 20 percent for marked limited motion.

How do you prove ankle instability? ›

Ankle Stability Test - YouTube

What conditions are secondary to ankle? ›

Common Secondary Conditions to Ankle Conditions

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by a sudden injury to the ankle, which may cause the foot to roll one way or another. Knee pain—If an ankle is consistent, or goes untreated, it can cause knee pain.

What is the VA disability rating for feet? ›

§ 4.71a, Diagnostic Code 5284, for foot injuries other than those addressed under other diagnostic codes. Under that code, foot injuries are rated at 40 percent for actual loss of use of the foot, 30 percent if injury is severe, 20 percent if moderately severe, and 10 percent if moderate.

Is ankle instability a disability? ›

How Does VA Rate Ankle Instability? Once service connection is established, VA will assign a disability rating depending on the severity of the condition. Ankle instability is usually rated under 38 CFR § 4.71, Schedule of Ratings – Musculoskeletal System, Diagnostic Code (DC) 5271.

Can you get disability for chronic ankle instability? ›

If you were diagnosed with ankle instability before you entered active service, it may still be possible to prove service connection to receive VA disability benefits. This would occur if your ankle instability was aggravated by something that occurred during service.

How do I know if I have chronic ankle instability? ›

A repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports. Persistent (chronic) discomfort and swelling. Pain or tenderness. The ankle feeling wobbly or unstable.

Can an MRI show ankle instability? ›

Background. Chondral lesions, peroneal tendon tears, and other disorders in patients with chronic ankle instability may not be detected by preoperative MRI.

What are the long term effects of chronic ankle instability? ›

Ankle Sprains and Arthritis

The American Journal of Sports medicine found that repetitive injury and other symptoms of chronic ankle instability can lead to early-onset osteoarthritis, which can cause pain and dysfunction later in life.

What causes chronic ankle instability? ›

Ankle instability is caused by injury to the lateral [outside] ankle ligaments. This usually causes strain or stretch, and in more severe forms, causes a sprain or tear in the ligaments.

How does the VA rate secondary claims? ›

If your application is approved, your secondary condition will be rated with the VASRD (Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities) scale that is used to apply ratings to all disabilities based on the severity of symptoms.

What foot problems qualify for disability? ›

Some of the most common foot conditions veterans experience following service include pes planus (flat feet), plantar fasciitis, bunion deformity, and arthritis. Veterans may be eligible to receive VA disability compensation if they are able to demonstrate that their foot conditions are due to their time in service.

What is the highest VA rating for feet? ›

The 50 percent disability rating assigned in this decision is the maximum disability rating which can be assigned for a bilateral foot disability, and is the appropriate rating under the diagnostic code which most nearly approximates the Veteran's disability picture. See 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a, Diagnostic Code 5276.

What percentage does VA give for plantar fasciitis? ›

30% – Veterans can receive the 30 percent rating for plantar fasciitis affecting both feet and is not responsive to treatment. 40% – Veterans who lose the use of a foot because of plantar fasciitis can be awarded a 40 percent rating under diagnostic code 5167.

What is the highest VA rating for plantar fasciitis? ›

Fortunately, the following blog post is designed to explain the VA rating system for veterans who may have the condition. Overall, the Plantar Fasciitis VA ratings for 2020 operate on a 0% to 50% scale (including intermittent benefit percentiles at 10%, 20%, and 30%).

Can you get disability for ankle pain? ›

If you have suffered a foot- or ankle-related injury, you may qualify for federal disability retirement benefits if the condition impacts your ability to do your job.

What percentage of VA disability does Ankle Fusion receive? ›

Since 1975, a 40 percent rating has been in effect for the Veteran's service-connected residuals of a right foot injury with triple arthrodesis and ankle fusion.

Is ankle arthritis a disability? ›

Inflammatory Arthritis

The 4th arthritis condition that can automatically qualify you for benefits under the SSA listings is when arthritis causes inflammation or deformities in your knees, ankles, shoulders or elbows.

What conditions are secondary to foot pain? ›

Example of common secondary conditions include the following:
  • Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). This condition occurs in the lower back or neck. ...
  • Arthritis of the Foot. ...
  • Anterior Knee Pain and Intermittent Low Back Pain. ...
  • Plantar Fasciitis. ...
  • Toe Deformities. ...
  • Calluses.
Jun 1, 2020


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