If You Where Rated 10% for Limited or Painful Motion of the Shoulder Before May 2016, You May Be Due an Increase

The VA raised the minimum rating for diagnostic code 5201, limitation of motion of the arm, from 10% to 20% back in May 2016. If you’re still rated 10%, you should request the increase. The VA shouldn’t require an exam, unless they have reason to believe your condition has improved. You should also request an effective date of one year prior based on “a liberalizing VA issue approved by the Secretary or by the Secretary’s direction.” Specifically, according to M21-1, III.iv.4.A.1.g. Selecting a DC and Minimum Compensable Evaluation for 38 CFR 4.59 Per Sowers v. McDonald: “- This policy particularly affects painful motion of the shoulder evaluated under 38 CFR 4.71a, DC 5201. Under this DC, painful motion of the shoulder warrants assignment of a 20-percent evaluation. – This decision represents a change in longstanding VA policy in which the minimum compensable evaluation was interpreted as a 10-percent evaluation irrespective of the DC involved. . . . . Effective May 23, 2016, the minimum compensable evaluation refers to the lowest evaluation specified under the DC most applicable to the disability.” Per 38 CFR §3.114 Change of law or Department of Veterans Affairs issue: “(a)(3) If a claim is reviewed at the request of the claimant more than 1 year after the effective date of the law or VA issue, benefits may be authorized for a period of 1 year prior to the date of receipt of such request.”

I was originally rated 10% for both shoulders in 2008 and didn’t find out about the increase until last year. I could have been getting the increase for 4 years; not only that, but the bilateral increase to 20% would have raised my overall rating from 80% to 90%. It pisses me off that the VA doesn’t notify veterans about changes that might benefit them. I actually think the VA should automatically increase the benefits of every affected veteran effective the date of the change. I’ve written my senators, congressman, and numerous veterans’ organizations about this and urge others to do the same, in addition to requesting any increase that is due to them.