Scars and VA Disability Compensation
Many service injuries result in permanent scars and disfigurement. When a service member is honorably discharged from the military, they can seek a VA disability rating for functional impairments and for permanent scars.
According to the VA’s Annual Benefits Report for 2018, scars are the fourth most common disability among veterans, with over 1 million veterans affected. Scar disabilities are rated under five separate diagnostic codes. They are rated based on the number of scares or disfigurements a veteran has, the area of the body affect, their permanence, and the presence of pain or instability.
Eight Characteristics of Disfigurement
The VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) gives eight characteristics of disfigurement that the VA incorporates into how it rates scars for disability compensation purposes:
- The scar is 5 or more inches in length;
- Width of the scar is ¼ inch at the widest part;
- Surface of the scar elevates or depresses when pressed upon;
- The scar is adherent to the soft tissue underneath it;
- Hypopigmentation (loss of skin color) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin color) in an area large than 6 square inches;
- Abnormal skin texture in an area larger than 6 square inches;
- Underlying soft tissue beneath the scar is missing in an area larger than 6 square inches;
- Skin is inflexible and indurated (i.e. hard) in an area exceeding 6 square inches.
Scars of Disfigurement of the Head, Face, or Neck
There are three main things the VA takes into account when assigning a rating for scars under diagnostic code 7800: tissue loss, distortion or asymmetry, and characteristics of disfigurement.
|80%||Veterans who display tissue loss and “gross distortion or asymmetry of three or more features” such as the nose, chin, forehead, eyes (including eyelids), ears, cheeks, or lips; OR display 6 or more characteristics of disfigurement|
|50%||Veterans who experience tissue loss and gross distortion or asymmetry of two or more of the features listed above; OR have 4-5 characteristics of disfigurement|
|30%||Veterans who present with tissue loss and gross distortion or asymmetry of one of the features listed above; OR 2-3 characteristics of disfigurement|
|10%||Veterans who display 1 characteristic of disfigurement|
Scars Elsewhere on the Body that are Deep and Nonlinear
Nonlinear scars located in different areas of the body are rated separately. Each rating is based upon the area of qualifying scars that affect that portion of the body.
|40%||Nonlinear deep scare that occupies area(s) of 144 square inches or more|
|30%||Nonlinear deep scare that occupies area(s) of at least 72 but less than 144 square inches|
|20%||Nonlinear deep scare that occupies area(s) of 12 but less than 72 square inches|
|10%||Nonlinear deep scare that occupies area(s) of at least 6 but less than 12 square inches|
Superficial Nonlinear Scars Not of the Head, Neck, or Face
Superficial scars are not permanent in nature and do not affect the underlying soft tissue. These scars are rated separately for each area they affect. Veterans are only able to get a 10% disability rating for superficial nonlinear scars affecting one area of the body other than the head, face, or neck:
- If the area(s) of the scar(s) is 144 square inches or more then the veteran should be rated at 10%
Painful or Unstable Scars
An unstable scare is one where “there is frequent loss of covering skin over the scar.” If more than one scar is considered unstable then an additional 10% may be added to the rating.
|30%||5 or more unstable or painful scars|
|20%||3-4 unstable or painful scars|
|10%||1-2 painful or unstable scars|
Other Scars Including Linear Scars
Disability ratings for other scars (including linear scars) are based upon the disabling effect the scar presents. For example if the veteran’s scar is linear long a joint and prevent flexion, they will be rated on the limitation of motion.
Veterans Help Group have been supporting veterans in getting the benefits they deserve since 1995. If you or a loved one served, and suffer from scarring or disfigurement, we are here to help. Call Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992 or complete our free veterans benefits case evaluation form.