What You Need To Know About Degenerative Disc Disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) occurs when the discs between the vertebrae deteriorate causing pain, weakness, tingling, and or numbness. Part of aging is disk deterioration; however, it does not cause pain in everyone. The speed and extent of deterioration are dependent on external factors.

Service Connection

Because disc deterioration naturally occurs over time, unless the veteran specifically demonstrates how his or her scenario is extraordinary they get a lower rating or get denied. If you think your DDD is caused from your time in service it is important that you think back to your time in service to be able to argue how your condition is connected.

For example:

  • Did you fall?
  • Did you regularly pick up or carry heavy equipment?
  • What was your job?
  • Did your job consist of repetitive movements that pounded your vertebra together?

All of the above can trigger spinal deterioration prematurely. If you can’t think of anything that would directly connect your condition, don’t forget to consider secondary connections. For example, if you have a hip or knee condition from your time in service, those conditions can impact your weight distribution when you walk, pushing irregularly on your vertebra causing DDD.


DDD ratings are determined differently depending on whether or not your DDD limits your motion.

Motion Limited (must be objectively confirmed by findings such as swelling, muscle spasm, or satisfactory evidence of painful motion.)

  • Degenerative arthritis established by x-ray: you’ll be rated by limitation of motion under the diagnostic code for the joint(s) involved.
  • However, if the limitation of motion of the specific joint(s) involved is non-compensable under the appropriate diagnostic codes, then 10% will be applied to each major joint or group of minor joints affected by the limited motion to be combined under diagnostic code 5003.

Motion Not Limited

  • 20%: X-ray shows the involvement of 2 or more major joints or minor joint groups with occasional incapacitating exacerbations.
  • 10%: X-ray evidence of the involvement of 2 or more major joints or minor joint groups

Total Disability Individual Unemployment (TDIU)

DDD can make it difficult to complete everyday activities and hold employment. If your DDD is making it difficult to hold substantial employment, you may be entitled to TDIU benefits; meaning you’d be compensated at the 100% disability level.

Veterans Help Group have been helping veterans get the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you’d like assistance with your VA disability claim or think you should be TDIU eligible please call 855-855-8992 or chat with us online for a free consultation.

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