The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides financial compensation to veterans who suffer service-connected injuries. This includes injuries to the shoulder and/or arm. If you can prove that your shoulder or arm pain is the result of an injury you sustained while in the military, you may be eligible to obtain VA benefits for shoulder injuries.

Shoulder Injuries

The jobs that soldiers and military personnel are required to do, as well as the intensive training they endure, can place extreme stress and strain on their shoulders, arms, and upper bodies. Not only are they required to lift heavy equipment, but they also undergo demanding workouts to prepare for active duty. Shoulder injuries a soldier or veteran may suffer include:

  • Rotator cuff tear. The tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint create the rotator cuff. The primary function of the rotator cuff is to allow you to move your arm and shoulder while keeping the shoulder joint in its socket. Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include trouble lifting objects, pain, weakness, and trouble moving your arm. It may not be possible to repair the rotator cuff if you suffer extensive tears. 
  • Separated shoulder. A shoulder separation occurs when you stretch or tear the ligaments attached to the collarbone. The symptoms of a separated shoulder include limited movement, bruising, swelling, and pain, and you may need surgery to repair it.
  • Shoulder bursitis. Bursitis occurs when the bursa around the shoulder become inflamed and irritated. Bursae are small jelly-like sacs that contain fluid and are located between your bones and soft tissue. These sacs help cushion your joints. If you suffer from severe bursitis, you may experience debilitating pain in your joints and find that small movements can be very painful. It’s also possible that you might be unable to move a specific joint.
  • Shoulder replacement. If a veteran’s shoulder injury is severe enough, it may need to be replaced to improve strength, reduce pain, and increase mobility and function. Often, the replacement is needed because of a serious shoulder fracture or acute arthritis.
  • Shoulder tendonitis. This shoulder condition occurs when there is inflammation of the biceps tendon and the rotator cuff. This inflammation, which can be mild, moderate, or severe, causes limited mobility of the shoulder and pain.

VA benefits for shoulder injuriesProving Your Shoulder Injury is Service-Connected

Whether a veteran sustained a shoulder or arm injury while in combat or carrying out non-combat duties, proving that the injury is service-connected is critical to receiving disability benefits. Sometimes making this connection can be challenging because the veteran must have:

  • A diagnosis of a shoulder or arm condition by a physician
  • Experienced an incident or event during military service that caused the shoulder/arm condition
  • A medical nexus letter from a physician that establishes the connection between the shoulder/arm condition and the military event

As long as you can prove that the shoulder pain you’re experiencing is service-connected, you’ll likely receive at least a 10% disability rating. One principle the VA uses to determine the rating for shoulder injuries is the “Painful Motion” principle. Under this principle, the VA will give the minimum disability rating if you have any pain when you move the shoulder/joint. If your injury causes limited motion in the shoulder/arm, you may be eligible for a higher rating.

Contact Our VA Attorneys for Help Obtaining VA Benefits for Shoulder Injuries

If you suffer from a service-connected shoulder injury, you may qualify for disability benefits. Let our VA attorneys assist you in determining if you’re eligible. Our VA attorneys have been supporting veterans for years, and we will help you document your shoulder injury or arm condition and work with your treating medical providers to describe the full extent of your limitations.

Our VA attorneys know exactly how much these disability benefits mean to you. If we accept your case, we will take all steps within the law to help you get them. If your shoulder injury is making it impossible for you to work, contact Cuddigan Law to speak with an intake specialist for free.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska