VA Disability Ratings and Benefits for Scars
Category: Veterans Disability Law
Scars, paired with second-degree burns, were the sixth most prevalent service-connected disability that received compensation in the VA’s most recent Annual Benefit’s Report (2019). Scars were also the sixth most prevalent disability for all compensation recipients, resulting in 1,036,326 total recipients. If you have a scar, you may be eligible to receive VA disability for scars. You may be able to get compensation from VA disability for scars under the right conditions of severity and location.
How the VA Defines Scars and Why They May Be Compensated
In order to be eligible for VA disability for scars, you must have a scar that is either an unstable scar or a painful scar, or both. Scars are compensated based on multiple factors, which are evaluated based on two primary rating systems:
- The first system rates scars based on medical conditions
- The second system rates scared based on characteristics of disfigurement
Though this may seem simplistic, the factors that go into rating scars can quickly get complicated. Working with a VA disability lawyer may help clarify both the process and potential results if you wish to obtain VA disability for scars.
Because “unstable scar” is one of the two categories of rating systems, the VA states the unstable scar definition is any scar in which there is a frequent loss of covering of skin over the scar.
Scars are defined by their characteristics of disfigurement. In fact, there are eight main attributes of scars that the VA looks at when characterizing scars:
- Your scar is 5 inches (13 cm) or more in length
- Your scar’s widest width is at least one-quarter (¼) inch (0.6 cm)
- The surface of your scar either elevates or depresses when pressed upon
- Your scar is adherent to soft tissue below
- Hyperpigmentation or hypo-pigmentation, which is either the lightening or darkening of skin tissue. The change in pigmentation also needs to happen within an area of 6 square inches or greater.
- Your scarred area has abnormal skin texture in an area that is greater than 6 square inches. Abnormal skin texture can be scaly, tight, shiny, irregular, atrophic, etc.
- You have underlying soft tissue beneath the scar. Again, this applies to an area that is 6 square inches or larger.
- If your skin does not move and/or is hard over an area of 6 square inches
How Scars are Rated by the VA
The Department of Veterans Affairs rate scars based off of different factors, including the amount of scars a veteran has. Other determining factors the VA takes into account are the placement of the scar, the scar’s permanence, and how much pain the veteran is in.
The official diagnostic code for the VA’s scar rating is under 38 CFR §4.118, diagnostic code 7800, 7801, 7802, 7804, and 7805. You will receive your VA compensation rating for scars based within the following categories:
7800: Scars on the Head, Face, and Neck
If you have scars on your head, face, or neck, the VA will rate your scar based on the visible or palpable tissue loss, the asymmetry or gross distortion, and the number of disfigurements based on the eight characteristics of disfigurement listed above. When discussing asymmetry and/or gross distortion, this can occur in any location on the head, face, and neck including nose, chin, forehead, eyes, eyelids, ears, cheeks, or lips. There are four ratings that you could potentially receive for diagnostic Code 7800:
- 10%: you have one characteristic of disfigurement
- 30%: you have two or three characteristics of disfigurement or have tissue loss and gross distortion or asymmetry.
- 50%: you have signs of asymmetry or gross distortion, or four to five characteristics of disfigurement
- 80%: you have extreme signs of tissue loss and distortion/asymmetry or have six or greater characteristics of disfigurement.
If you show these characteristics, these may not be your scores. How the VA rates your scar depends on their view of your scars. Listed above are potential ratings and you need to be reviewed by the VA to get your actual VA ratings for scars.
7801: Scars Due to Causes Not on the Head, Face, and Neck that are Deep and Nonlinear
Each scar that is located below the head, face, and neck are evaluated individually. You will receive a separate rating for qualifying scars. Scars do receive separate ratings, which will then be combined into a single disability rating. Scars are rated depending on the following:
- 10: Your scar is between 6 and 12 square inches
- 20%: Your scar is between 12 and 27 square inches
- 30%: The area of your scar is at least 72 square inches but less than 144 square inches
- 40%: Your scar is 144 square inches or more
Qualifying scars for this category are below the neck, and nonlinear and deep.
7802: Scars that are Superficial and Nonlinear
Superficial scars as defined as scars that are on the topmost, or “superficial” in anatomical terms. Superficial scars do not affect underlying soft tissue, only the skin. These scars are also not permanent. The VA disability for scars under this category are rated by 10% and the scar must be in an area 144 square inches or greater. Like Diagnostic Code 7801, each scar is rated individually, so if you have multiple scars, each scar will receive its own rating.
7804: Scars that are Painful or Unstable
If you have a scar that is painful or unstable, the scar must have a frequent loss of covering of skin. A painful scar VA rating of 10% may be added if you have more than one unstable scar. The other painful scar VA rating system for diagnostic code 7804 is as follows:
- 10%: one to two painful or unstable scars
- 20%: three to four painful or unstable scars
- 30%: five or more painful or unstable scars
VA disability for surgery scars is under diagnostic code 7804 since most surgical scars are superficial
7805: Other Scars, Including Nonlinear Scars, and Effects of Scars Not Under Previous Diagnostic Codes
VA disability rating for “other scars” are determined by the debilitating effects of your scar.
Benefits Involved with Individual Conditions
Your VA benefits will depend on your VA scar rating. You may receive monthly payments that are based on the combined rating percentage you receive. Other factors include the number of dependents you have. If you have a spouse and children, your individual rates may differ from a veteran who is single. VA compensation rating for scars along with your dependent status determine your monthly payments.
Acne VA Disability Rating c Acne VA disability rating is rated under diagnostic code 7828 within the same 38 C.F.R. § 4.118 which rates scars. Superficial acne is not eligible for compensation, but deep acne, which is defined by the VA as “deep inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts” is rated as such:
- 10%: deep acne affecting less than 40% of the face, neck, or body
- 30%: deep acne affecting 40% or more of the face and neck
VA Disability for Surgery Scars — VA disability for surgery scars receive a rating of 10% since most surgical scars are superficial.
VA Disability Rating for Keloids — Keloid scars fall under Diagnostic Code 7805. The VA disability rating for keloids has a 30% rating.
VA Disability for Hernia Scar — VA disability for hernia scar falls under Diagnostic Code 7804. For hernia scars, it may be both superficial and painful, yielding a potential 10% disability rating.
VA Disability for C Section — A C section, or cesarean section scar, falls under diagnostic code 7804 and is rated as a 10% disability rating.
Can You Get VA Disability for Scars That Are PFB? — PFB, or pseudofolliculitis barbae, is eligible to receive VA benefits for scars. You can file a PFB VA claim if your scar receives a VA scar rating. PFB can have up to a 30% VA scar rating.
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