The Shoulder and Upper Arm Muscles

Topics:

Group I
Group II
Group III
Group IV
Group V
Group VI
DBQ for Muscle Conditions
Principles that Apply

Reminder: The VA will give a Military Disability Rating for each service-connected condition a service member has, but the DoD will only rate service-connected conditions that make a service member Unfit for Duty.

Note: Hand and arm conditions may have higher ratings for the dominant hand. If you are right-handed, then your right hand/arm is dominant. If you are left-handed, then your left hand/arm is dominant. For the ambidextrous, the rating for the dominant hand will apply regardless of which hand is injured.

All muscle conditions are either rated on the Slight to Severe Scale detailed on another page (the links in the rating discussions will take you straight to the scale), or on the limited motion of the joint (shoulder or elbow) the muscle condition affects, whichever gives a higher rating. So, if there is a muscle injury in the bicep muscle near the shoulder, it can either be rated on the muscle injury itself (the Slight to Severe Scale) or on the limited motion of the shoulder. If the muscle injury is the cause of the limited motion, then only one can be rated. If, however, there is a muscle injury that does not affect a joint, and that joint has limited motion because of another condition, then both can be rated. If the muscle condition is rated as limited motion, then the final code will look like this: 5301-5201. The first four-digit code defines the condition as a muscle injury, and the second code tells how it is rated (limited motion of the shoulder).

 

The muscles in the shoulder and upper arm are divided into six groups.

 


Group I

Code 5301: This group controls the elevation of the arm straight forward. These muscles allow the arm to be raised from the side to straight up.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

Muscles/tendons: trapezius, levator scapulae, and serratus magnus.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

This condition is either rated on the Slight to Severe Scale or on limited motion of the shoulder, code 5201.

Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 30%, and severe = 40%. Non-dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%.

Return to Top

 


Group II

Code 5302: This group controls the lowering of the arm.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

Muscles/tendons: pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, teres major, pectoralis minor and rhomboids.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

The ratings are based on the Slight to Severe Scale. There is no limitation of motion rating for this group.

Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 20%, moderately severe = 30%, and severe = 40%. Non-dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 20%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%.

Return to Top

 


Group III

Code 5303: This group of muscles moves the arm out to the side away from the body. They allow the arm to move out from the side to straight overhead.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

Muscles/tendons: pectoralis major and deltoid.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

This condition is rated on the Slight to Severe Scale or on limited motion of the shoulder, code 5201.

Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 20%, moderately severe = 30%, and severe = 40%. Non-dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 20%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%.

Return to Top

 


Group IV

Code 5304: This group controls the outward and inward rotation of the arm. These muscles also keep the shoulder in its socket. Any rotator cuff injuries are rated under this code.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

Muscles/tendons: supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor, subscapularis, and coracobrachialis.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

The ratings are based on the Slight to Severe Scale. There is no limited motion rating for this group.

Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%. Non-dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 20%.

Return to Top

 


Group V

Code 5305: This group controls the flexion of the elbow and supination. These muscles allow the arm to bend at the elbow and allow the hand to turn palm up.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles                                        movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

Muscles/tendons: biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

This condition is rated on the Slight to Severe Scale or on limited motion of the elbow, code 5206 or 5213.

Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 30%, and severe = 40%. Non-dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%.

Return to Top

 


Group VI

Code 5306: This group controls the extension of the elbow. These muscles allow the arm to straighten at the elbow.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

Muscles/tendons: triceps and anconeus.

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

This condition is rated on the Slight to Severe Scale or on limited motion of the elbow, code 5207.

Ratings for the Slight to Severe Scale: Dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 30%, and severe = 40%. Non-dominant hand ratings: slight = 0%, moderate = 10%, moderately severe = 20%, and severe = 30%.

Return to Top

 


DBQ for Muscle Conditions

Here is the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) used for muscle conditions: Muscle Injury DBQ.

Return to Top

 


Principles that Apply

movement of the shoulder and arm muscles

The Amputation Rule: For the dominant hand: any ratings for the shoulder and arm cannot be combined to be more than 90% for the entire shoulder and arm, and 80% for below the deltoid. For the non-dominant hand: any ratings for the shoulder and arm cannot be combined to be more than 90% for the entire shoulder and arm, 80% for at the deltoid, and 70% for below the deltoid.

Special Monthly Compensation: If your condition makes it impossible to grasp with your fingers or hold things with your hand, you may qualify for the VA’s Special Monthly Compensation.

Combined Ratings for Muscle Injuries: A nerve rating in the shoulder or arm cannot be combined with a muscle rating in the shoulder or arm unless each condition affects completely different functions (i.e. the nerve condition affects the flexion of the elbow, and the muscle condition affects the extension of the shoulder). If more than one muscle group is injured in the shoulder or arm, then they must be combined as described in this principle.

Painful Motion: If pain is present with motion, then the minimum rating must be given.

Pyramiding: A single condition can only be rated once! However, if a nerve condition or other condition exists that is additional to the shoulder or arm condition (not simply caused by it), then it can also be rated.

Probative Value: If two exams record the condition differently, the exam with the most thorough data and performed by the most qualified person in that specialty will be the exam the rating is based on.

A Tie Goes to the Veteran: If there are two equally strong exams with conflicting information, or if the condition can be equally rated under two different codes, then the one that gives the highest rating will be assigned. Every conflict should be resolved in favor of the higher rating.

Accurate Measurements: It is essential that the necessary information to rate your condition is recorded by the physician in your exam. With the information on this page, you should know what needs to be measured and recorded. Make sure this happens correctly to ensure that you receive a proper rating.

Hospital or Convalescent Ratings: Some conditions require periods of hospitalization or constant medical care (at-home nurse, etc.). Any condition that requires this is rated 100% during this intensive treatment. Once it ends, then the 100% rating will continue for a certain period. This period is 3 months unless another length (6 months, 1 year, etc.) is directly specified in the condition ratings. Some patients may need more time to recover than others, so the physician or Rating Authorities can lengthen this time period if they see fit.

Please see the Musculoskeletal Principles and the VASRD Principles pages for further guidance.

For non-muscle conditions, see The Elbow and Forearm page and The Shoulder and Arm page.

Return to Top

© 2013 MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com
website security
Military Disability Made Easy is a national website dedicated to helping
Disabled Veterans take control of their Military Disability. From the Medical Evaluation Board and Physical Evaluation Board
to the laws of the VASRD, Military Disability Made Easy can educate you on every aspect of DoD Disability and
VA Disability. Find all the answers you need to maximize your Military Disability Benefits and VA Disability Benefits today!
Follow Dr. George P. Johnson on Google+!