Degenerative Disc Disease VA Rating

If you are a veteran suffering from service-connected degenerative disc disease, you may be able to get up to a 20% disability rating from the VA. This rating amounts to $327.99 per month, according to current disability compensation rates

Disability disc disease (DDD) can be a painful condition to live with, and it affects the lower back or neck. However, compared to many other disabilities that are qualified for up to a 100% disability rating from the VA, the ratings available for DDD are quite low. 

However, in some cases, veterans may be able to get higher ratings when their DDD leads to other disorders such as radiculopathy, scoliosis, and bulging discs, among others.

In this article, we will be focusing on the disability ratings available for DDD.

Definition of Degenerative Disc Disease

When the discs between vertebrae lose their fragment, cushioning, and herniate, it can cause degenerative disc disease. This condition normally presents itself in the lower back or neck of patients. 

There are numerous reasons that could cause DDD, and some of them include –

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Spine injury 
  • Family history of spine problems

Veterans who suffered from spine injuries or had to lift heavy things frequently during their service may be at risk of DDD more than the regular population. 

In some cases, DDD does not cause any pain, while other times, it can lead to long-lasting pain that can affect the daily lives of veterans. These are the most common symptoms of DDD –

  • Muscle tension or spasms in the neck or the lower back
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms and legs
  • Chronic lower back pain that can sometimes spread to the buttocks, thighs, and the groin
  • Worsening pain when performing daily tasks that involve twisting, bending, or lifting
  • Difficulty or pain when sitting
  • Difficulting lifting foot 
  • Pain in legs 

Disability Rating for Degenerative Disc Disease

The VA assigns disability ratings for Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) based on 38 CFR 4.71a, Schedule of Ratings – Musculoskeletal System, especially diagnostic code 5242. The DDD grading criteria are quite similar to those for degenerative arthritis (diagnostic code 5003).

If X-ray results verify DDD or degenerative arthritis, the veteran’s disability rating will be based on the level of mobility restriction in the afflicted joint(s). If a single joint’s limitation of motion is non-compensable (0% rating) under the appropriate diagnostic code, a 10% rating will be issued to each major joint or group of minor joints impacted by this limitation of motion.

When no restriction of mobility is detected, the veteran’s DDD rating is determined based on the intensity of symptoms. This evaluation takes into account both anatomical impairment and functional loss, with the following grading levels:

  • 10% Rating: When X-ray evidence reveals involvement of two or more major joints or two or more smaller joint groups, and the veteran suffers from incapacitating exacerbations on a regular basis.
  • 20% Rating: When X-ray data demonstrates involvement of two or more major joints or two or more minor joint groups without indicating incapacitating exacerbations.

It should be noted that when giving a disability rating based on limitation of motion, the VA needs objective substantiation in the form of symptoms such as edema, muscular spasms, or reliable evidence of uncomfortable movements. This guarantees that the veteran’s DDD-related impairment is assessed fairly and accurately.

Is the VA Rating for Crohn’s Disease Similar to Degenerative Disc Disease?

The va rating for crohn’s disease may differ from that of Degenerative Disc Disease. Crohn’s disease is evaluated based on symptoms, such as weight loss, abdominal pain, and bowel irregularities. In contrast, Degenerative Disc Disease focuses on spine-related impairment and mobility issues. Therefore, the VA rating for Crohn’s disease and Degenerative Disc Disease may vary due to the distinct nature of these conditions.


Even though DDD’s highest disability rating is only 20%, it can still be complicated to apply for a disability claim, especially when it comes to proving service connection. That’s why experts at VA Disability Coach help you make a proper claim by reviewing all your available evidence and assisting you every part of the way.