When I was just a young lad I remember having a conversation with someone who was told he couldn’t join the military because he had flat feet. Years later I would realize that there were many other reasons for him not being qualified for military. As a tween, I remember that conversation, and for some reason it stuck with me. As an individual who now works with Veterans, imagine my surprise when I would hear Veterans talk about filing claims for flat feet. I immediately would wonder how they got into the military with their flat feet. Well, it’s something that has been in the back of my mind for a while, so I decided to do a little research. It turns out I had a lot to learn.
What are flat feet? According to WebMD, which is like chocolate for hypochondriacs, Flatfoot (pes planus) is a condition in which the longitudinal arch in the foot, which runs lengthwise along the sole of the foot, has not developed normally and is lowered or flattened out. One foot or both feet may be affected.
First of all, the whole notion of not being able to join the military because of flat feet may not even be true. While I could not find an official document stating this wasn’t the case, I did stumble across a forum in which several soldiers discussed the issue. One issue that came up on multiple forums is if there was any pain because of your flat feet. If you answer no, a lot of these soldiers said they would pass you on the physical exam. However, if you had extreme flat feet, and had pain because of that, then you would likely fail the exam. So, do flat feet disqualify you from military service? My answer is inconclusive. I would suggest speaking with a recruiter in more detail about this subject if you are concerned. I would have done that, but these men and women have more important things to do than answer questions for my blog.
I also learned that flatfoot can develop later on in life. This can explain why some individuals who may not have had issues during an entrance exam may have issues later on their military career. Sometimes foot injuries can cause flatfoot too. The big question here is: “Can I get service-connected for pes planus? Absolutely you can! Let’s look into how a flatfoot condition gets service connected through the VA.
To determine if pes planus is a disability in which Veterans can service connect, I turned to the 38 CFR. For those of you who don’t know, the 38 CFR is like a gigantic book of ratings codes and regulations pertaining to the VA. It’s like Harry Potter if Harry Potter was boring and full of legal jargon. Actually, a better title of this might be “0 Shades of Gray,” because of how little it opens things up for interpretation. Most things in this book are black and white. Bad puns aside, it is actually interesting to see what the 38 CFR says about flatfoot. I did not realize the range to which a Veteran can get service-connected for this condition. It starts at a rating of 0% and goes up to 50%. It is also important to note that pes planus can be service-connected bilaterally. If you are new to VA disability, bilateral simply means that it affects both sides. In this case, both feet may be flat, or one foot being flat is affecting the other. The highest rating of 50% is assigned for the most severe cases, and it must be bilateral in order to get 50%. To summarize, if your feet are as flat as Katy Perry’s singing, and just as painful, you may be able to get 50%. However, if you only have a mild issue with pes planus, you may only be rated at 0% or 10%.
How does one actually get this service-connected though? That answer is actually a little simpler. Evidence in service is a must with this condition. I have spoken to several Veterans who have sought treatment in service because of their flatfoot condition. They may have asked for different boots to be issued, given insoles/inserts, or even received medical treatment while in service. These individuals are more likely to get service connection than those who don’t seek treatment while in service. If you have been discharged for a while, further medical treatment after service will also be beneficial for service connection. Just like any other claim in the VA, medical evidence makes a world of difference.
If you have issues with a flatfoot condition and are seeking a service connection, give us a call today for a free consultation: 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather be contacted by a member of our staff, fill out this form, and you will be called by someone at a time that works best for you.