In this guide, we’ll explore how to get a VA Rating for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) as well as how to potentially qualify for Special Monthly Compensation for loss of use of a hand.
Your final VA Disability Rating for Carpal Tunnel depends upon the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of symptoms to include, Painful Motion, Limitation of Range of Motion (ROM), and Functional Loss or Impairment.
VA Disability for Carpal Tunnel has ratings that range from 10% to 70%, with breaks at 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60%, with lower or higher ratings for non-dominant (Minor) versus dominant (Major) hand.
However, the most common Carpal Tunnel Syndrome VA Rating is 10%, which is “mild incomplete paralysis of the median nerve.”
Alright, let’s jump into this Ultimate Guide for getting service connected disability for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Table of Contents
- What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Veterans?
- Common signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:
- VA Disability Rating for Carpal Tunnel: Basic Eligibility Criteria
- How Does the VA Rate Carpal Tunnel?
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome VA Rating Scale
- Is Carpal Tunnel a VA Disability?
- What are Some Secondary Conditions to Carpal Tunnel?
- The following workplace factors can contribute to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Can I get Special Monthly Compensation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Are You Stuck, Frustrated, and Underrated? WE CAN HELP!
- About the Author
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Veterans?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or CTS, is a painful condition that results from pressure on the median nerve in the hand.
The “Carpal Tunnel” is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand.
The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel and provides feeling and movement to parts of the hand, including the thumb and first three fingers.
When the median nerve becomes compressed, veterans may experience painful symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm.
In some cases, veterans with Carpal Tunnel may also have trouble gripping objects or performing other tasks that require manual dexterity.
Common signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome include:
- Burning, itching, numbness, or pain in your palm and thumb or your index and middle fingers
- Weakness in your hand and trouble holding things
- Shock-like feelings that move into your fingers
- Tingling that moves up into your arm
VA Disability Rating for Carpal Tunnel: Basic Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for a Carpal Tunnel VA Rating, a veteran must meet three (3) criteria by law:
- #1. Medical diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in a medical record (Service Treatment Records, VA medical records, or private medical records)
- #2. Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was caused or made worse by your active-duty military service OR by another service connected disability for secondary service connection (“Nexus” for service connection)
- #3. Persistent and recurring symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (“Severity of Symptoms”) to include how it affects your work, life, and social functioning
If you think you have a painful hand condition such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but don’t have a medical diagnosis,pick-up the phone and call the VA mental health facility nearest youto make an appointment right away!
If you’re trying to increase your VA rating for Carpal Tunnel, you need to prove to the VA that your symptoms are now worse and warrant the higher rating criteria by law.
The #1 best way to increase your VA rating for Carpal Tunnel is to have objective medical evidence to show the degradation of your hand movement over time.
(1) Limitation of Range of Motion and (2) Pain are the two most common factors that determine your final VA rating for hand conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
How Does the VA Rate Carpal Tunnel?
The VA rates Carpal Tunnel under CFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Code (DC) 8515:Paralysisof the Median Nerve.
- Complete paralysis: If the hand is stuck bent away from the body at the wrist, the middleand index fingers are stuck in extension more than normal (cannot move either down or side to side), thumb is straight and stuck right up next to the index finger (the hand is completely flat) and the muscles at the base of thumb are atrophied (wasting away), and the palm of the hand cannot be turned to face downward,it is rated 70% for theDominantarm and 60% for theNon-dominantarm.
- Severe Incomplete paralysis:Rated at 50% for the dominant arm and 40% for the non-dominant.
- Moderate Incomplete paralysis:Rated at 30% for the dominant and 20% for the non-dominant.
- Mild Incomplete paralysis: Rated at 10% for either arm.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome VA Rating Scale
|DC 8515, The Median Nerve, Paralysis Of:||*Major||*Minor|
|Complete: The hand inclined to the ulnar side, the index and middle fingers more extended than normally, considerable atrophy of the muscles of the thenar eminence, the thumb in the plane of the hand (ape hand); pronation incomplete and defective, absence of flexion of index finger and feeble flexion of middle finger, cannot make a fist, index and middle fingers remain extended; cannot flex distal phalanx of thumb, defective opposition and abduction of the thumb, at right angles to palm; flexion of wrist weakened; pain with trophic disturbances||70%||60%|
*Major and *Minor refer to the Dominant and Non-Dominant Hand. For example, if you’re right-handed and have carpal tunnel syndrome in your right hand (dominant), you’d receive the Major rating. If you’re right-handed and have carpal tunnel syndrome in your left-hand, you’d receive the Minor rating.
Is Carpal Tunnel a VA Disability?
Yes, Carpal Tunnel is a VA disability and can be rated at 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, or 70% depending upon the non-dominant (Minor) versus dominant (Major) hand as well as the Frequency, Severity, and Duration of your symptoms.
Your final rating for Carpal Tunnel also depends on Painful Motion, Limitation of Range of Motion (ROM), and Functional Loss or Impairment.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a disorder of the median nerve most often rated underCFR Title 38, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Code 8515, The Median Nerve, Complete or Incomplete Paralysis.
What are Some Secondary Conditions to Carpal Tunnel?
The following conditions have been medically linked to cause or make Carpal Tunnel worse:
- Thyroid Condition
- High Blood Pressure
- Fracturesor trauma to the wrist
- Fluid retentionfrompregnancyormenopause
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can also be caused or made worse if your wrist is frequently overextended.
This repetitive motionof your wrist can lead to swelling and compression of the median nerve.
The following workplace factors can contribute to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Straining your wristswhile using a keyboard or mouse
- Vibrations from using hand tools or power tools, especially in cold environments
- Any repeated movement that overextends your wrist
Can I get Special Monthly Compensation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Yes, if your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is severe, meaning you have no effective remaining function of one or both hands, you can qualify for Special Monthly Compensation (SMC-K) for Loss of Use of a Hand.
If you qualify for SMC-K, the VA automatically adds $118.33 per month to your basic disability compensation pay rate.
Veterans can receive up to three SMC-K awards in addition to basic disability pay and other SMC rates.
Are You Stuck, Frustrated, and Underrated? WE CAN HELP!
AtVA Claims Insider, we help fellow Veterans celebrateLIFE CHANGEby getting them the VA disability rating and compensationYOU DESERVEby law.
And, you’ll get to work with a Veteran Coach (VC) who will lead you to VA claim success.
- We’re a company OF Veterans, BY Veterans, FOR Veterans!FOR Veterans, BY Veterans. We’re the largest community ofVeterans Helping Veterans Worldwide™
- 15,000+disabled veterans served in ourElite Membershipprogram since 2016 with andaverage VA disability rating increase of >30%
- Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Business
- 4.8/5.0 Google Reviewsrating across 2,000+ total reviews
ClickHEREto Join the #1 Rated VA Claims Insider Elite Program and Start Today for FREE.
About the Author
Founder & CEO
Brian Reeseis a VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, andfounder of VA Claims Insider–“The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”
His frustration with the8-step VA disability claims processled him to create“VA Claims Insider,”which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.
Brian isalso the CEOofMilitary Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.
His eBook, the“9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim”has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.
He is aformer active duty Air Force officerwith extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from theUnited States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).
Id. The veteran's carpal tunnel syndrome is rated under 38 C.F.R. § 4.124a, Diagnostic Code 8515, which addresses the median nerve. A 10 percent rating is appropriate for both the major and minor hand when there is mild incomplete paralysis of the median nerve.How do you determine the severity of carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
Your doctor may order electrophysiological testing of your nerves to measure how well your median nerve is working and help determine whether there is too much pressure on the nerve. These tests will also help your doctor determine: The severity of your carpal tunnel syndrome.
Ratings for carpal tunnel are based on the paralysis of the median nerve, and each hand is rated separately. Ratings are as follows: 70% for the dominant hand and 60% non-dominant hand: This rating is given for complete paralysis.What is the VA rating for numbness and tingling in hands? ›
A 30 percent rating is granted for numbness, right hand. A 20 percent rating is granted for numbness, left hand.What is the highest VA disability rating for wrist pain? ›
The maximum rating for limitation of motion of the wrist (dorsiflexion or palmar flexion) is 10 percent. 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a, Code 5215. Limitation of supination of the forearm to 30 degrees or less warrants a 10 percent rating.What is the most significant diagnostic test of the carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
The Nerve Conduction Velocity Test
The nerve conduction velocity test is one of the most dependable ways to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. By measuring how fast an electrical signal travels along the forearm's nerve or from the nerve to a muscle, this test can produce reliable evidence of the syndrome.
Sensory Nerve Conduction Studies
Median nerve conduction velocities measuring less than 50 meters per second across the carpal tunnel or a difference of the conduction velocity of the wrist-to-digit segment compared to the palm-to-digit segment greater than 10 meters per second indicate signs of CTS.
Patients with mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome have normal to mildly abnormal nerve conduction study and electromyography findings. Severe disease is suggested by worsening clinical symptoms and clearly abnormal electrodiagnostic studies (Table 4).What is the VA rating for radiculopathy in hands? ›
VA disability ratings are expressed as percentages and range from 10% to 100%. The disability rating for radiculopathy can range from 10% for minor radiculopathy affecting the hand to 90% for major paralysis affecting all three radicular groups (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar).What is the VA rating for arthritis in hands? ›
Both rheumatoid and degenerative arthritis are considered chronic diseases that are subject to presumptive service connection. Veterans may receive a 10% VA disability rating if arthritic symptoms appear within one year of service discharge.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common neurological disorder that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. You may feel numbness, weakness, pain in your hand and wrist, and your fingers may become swollen and useless.How does the VA rate hand pain? ›
Disabilities are rated based on whether the injury affects a dominant or non-dominant hand. A 10 percent rating is warranted when the injury is moderate in either the dominant or non-dominant hand. A 20 percent rating is warranted when the injury is moderately severe in either the dominant or non-dominant hand.What is the VA rating for neuropathy in hands? ›
Remember that the maximum rating of 40% can be assigned to every extremity affected by peripheral neuropathy. For example, a Veteran with severe and provable symptoms of neuropathy in both hands may receive a rating of 30% per hand for a total rating of 60% of maximum VA disability benefits for both extremities.What is the average VA rating for nerve damage? ›
The VA doesn't have a diagnostic code for peripheral neuropathy, so the VA rates the condition based on the nerve(s) involved. Typically speaking, the maximum VA rating for peripheral neuropathy is 40%, but you may be entitled to more if your symptoms are severe and includes several of your limbs affected.What is the highest VA disability rating for neck pain? ›
HOW DOES THE VA RATE NECK PAIN? The severity of your neck pain can be rated from 10% to 100%, depending on the limitation in your range of motion (ROM). ROM testing includes accounting for painful motion, as typically VA will concede functional loss at the point that painful motion begins.How much is VA disability for erectile dysfunction? ›
Unlike other disabilities, erectile dysfunction is not given a rating schedule but instead, uses the following to determine compensation: Code 7520 Partial removal of the penis. This gives a rating of 30%.What disabilities get the highest VA rating? ›
Disabling mental health conditions are generally regarded as “high-value” claims. This is because mental health issues are much more likely than neurological, skin, auditory, or most musculoskeletal conditions to receive a disability rating of 30% or higher.What are the two tests for carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosis and Tests
Your doctor may tap the palm side of your wrist, a test called Tinel sign, or fully flex your wrist with your arms extended. They might also do tests including: Imaging tests. X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRI exams can let your doctor look at your bones and tissues.
This disorder often presents itself in patients through one of three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. Many individuals who develop carpel tunnel often become aware of their condition once the pain is acute, reoccurring, and has increased in severity.Can carpal tunnel cause neck and shoulder pain? ›
In rare cases carpal tunnel can cause shoulder pain. Patients can experience referred pain shooting up the arm from the wrist to the shoulder and even to the neck. This pain can sometimes feel like an electric shock. In other cases patients can have a condition known as double crush syndrome.
- Weaker grip.
- Tendency to drop things.
Pressure provocation test
A positive result in this test is the presence of pain, tingling and numbness in the distribution of the median nerve when the examiner presses with his/her thumb on the palmar aspect of the patient's wrist at the level of the carpal tunnel for 60 seconds.
Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A wrist fracture can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can the swelling and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Many times, there is no single cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.What is Grade 4 of carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
Moderate Sensory (Grade 4): Where SCV is less than 40 m/s from digit III, with normal sensory amplitude and normal motor values. Moderate Sensory-Motor (Grade 5): Where SCV is less than 40 m/s from digit III, with normal sensory amplitude, DML ≥ 4.2 ms, with normal motor amplitude and CV.What are the symptoms of advanced carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
Numbness and pain are the result. It can affect one or both hands. The muscles of the thumb are also serviced by the median nerve. A person with advanced carpal tunnel syndrome may find they cannot properly use or move their thumb any more, and may find it difficult to grasp objects.Should you have surgery for moderate carpal tunnel? ›
You may be able to treat carpal tunnel syndrome with rest, ice, medicine, and wrist splints. You also can learn to do some tasks in a way that doesn't hurt your wrist. Surgery may be a better choice if you've had very bad symptoms for a long time.What is the average VA disability rating for radiculopathy? ›
VA Ratings for Cervical and Lumbar Radiculopathy
Most veterans receive a rating of 10 to 20 percent. Higher ratings are reserved for more severe cases.
Radiculopathy in arms, buttocks or lower extremities can be secondary to several underlying physical conditions, such as: Back strain or spinal injury. Degenerative arthritis. Herniated discs.What is the VA rating for limitation of motion of fingers? ›
§ 4.71a, Codes 5223, 5230. Under Code 5230, any limitation of ring or little finger motion warrants a 0 percent rating. Under Code 5223, ankylosis of both the long and ring or both the ring and little fingers of either hand warrants a 10 percent rating.What is the VA rating for joint stiffness? ›
Veterans receive either a 10% or 20% rating depending on the severity of their symptoms and the number of joints affected. A 20% rating requires that two or more major joints or two or more groups of minor joints have occasional incapacitating episodes.
Ratings for limitation of wrist motion are provided under Diagnostic Code 5215. A 10 percent rating is assigned where dorsiflexion is less than 15 degrees, or where palmar flexion is limited in line with the forearm. The 10 percent rating is the maximum rating available for limitation of wrist motion.What is the maximum VA rating for degenerative disc disease? ›
What Is the Maximum Disability Rating for Degenerative Disc Disease? Despite how much pain the condition causes, the maximum VA disability rating for degenerative disc disease, as mentioned above, is typically 20 percent. However, there are a few ways veterans can increase their DDD VA rating.What percent of disability is carpal tunnel? ›
How VA Rates Carpal Tunnel and Wrist Pain. The VA rating for carpal tunnel is generally 10%, but they may give it a higher rating based on the severity of the condition and the hand that it inflicts. The VA will evaluate both the right hand and left hand separately, adding the two ratings together for a final number.Does surgery increase your VA disability rating? ›
Recovery time from either a surgery or the immobilization of a joint by a cast without surgery requires a temporary 100% disability rating for a service-connected disability. The temporary 100% rating may continue for 1 to 3 months—depending on your unique case.How does the VA measure back pain? ›
Doctors Focus on Range of Motion During C&P Exams
When it comes to evaluating disability benefits for back pain, the VA uses a rating formula that is heavily based on range of motion, which is a measurement of how much you can move a joint or muscle.
In order to get service connection for their neuropathy, veterans must prove to the VA that their condition was caused by their military service or by another service-connected condition. This can be done using medical records and service personnel records.What is the VA rating for sleep apnea? ›
The VA rates sleep apnea on a range of 0% for a documented sleep disorder that is asymptomatic, 30% for persistent day-time sleepiness, 50% with the required use of a breathing device such as a CPAP machine, or 100% with chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or cor pulmonale (abnormal enlargement of ...What is the highest VA rating for lower back pain? ›
A 40 percent rating is the maximum schedular rating for limitation of motion of the lumbosacral spine under Diagnostic Code 5292. The Board has considered rating the veteran's low back disability under all potentially applicable diagnostic codes to determine whether a more favorable rating is warranted.Are there different levels of carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
Like many neurological conditions, carpal tunnel is a disorder that worsens over time. This disorder often presents itself in patients through one of three stages: mild, moderate, and severe.When is carpal tunnel bad enough for surgery? ›
So, when is carpal tunnel syndrome severe enough for surgery? I recommend surgery to patients with severe symptoms such as significant sleep deprivation and disturbances, any muscle weakness, and to those who have gotten no relief of symptoms with at least 6-8 weeks of the nonsurgical treatment choices.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common neurological disorder that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from your forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. You may feel numbness, weakness, pain in your hand and wrist, and your fingers may become swollen and useless.What are 2 conditions that could mimic carpal tunnel syndrome? ›
Arthritic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and osteoarthritis, can all cause pain in the hands and fingers that may mimic carpal tunnel syndrome.What is the average age for carpal tunnel surgery? ›
While carpal tunnel syndrome can occur at any age, it most often affects people between the ages of 40 and 60.What happens if you wait too long for carpal tunnel surgery? ›
The dangers of waiting too long to get surgery can lead to irreversible nerve damage and muscle atrophy, resulting in a permanent inability to properly use your hands and fingers.What is the downside of carpal tunnel surgery? ›
Other potential risks of a carpal tunnel release surgery include: Bleeding. Infection. Injury to the median nerve or nerves that branch out from it.What is worse after carpal tunnel surgery? ›
Occasionally, the hand pain, tingling, and numbness symptoms increase after surgery. These patients are worse after surgery than they were before surgery. Sometimes this is a result of post-operative swelling putting pressure on the nerve, which can improve with time and anti-inflammatory medications.What is the number one cause of carpal tunnel? ›
Overuse of the wrist is one of the top reasons people develop carpal tunnel syndrome. This is especially true in jobs that require a significant amount of typing on a computer.What is the best painkiller for carpal tunnel? ›
Take a pain reliever, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Wear a snug, not tight, wrist splint at night. You can find these over the counter at most drugstores or pharmacies.Is carpal tunnel excruciating pain? ›
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be very painful and sometimes causes unusual sensations. If left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome tends to worsen and can lead to permanent damage of the median nerve.