If you got sick or injured while serving in the military, or your service made an existing condition worse, you may qualify for Veterans Association disability compensation.
To determine how much disability compensation to pay you, the VA assigns a disability rating based on the severity of your condition.
This raises one important question, though: How is your VA disability rating calculated?
Below, the experienced veterans’ disability lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael Hartup explains how the VA’s rating system works, how they determine combined ratings and more.
If you need additional help with filing a veterans’ disability claim in Tennessee, call Michael Hartup at 731-424-5559.
Factors Affecting Your Disability Rating
The VA looks at the following factors to decide your disability rating:
- Medical history and evidence, such as test results or doctor reports
- The results of your VA claim exam (also called a compensation and pension exam) if the VA determines you need the exam
- Other information from other sources, such as federal agencies
Based on this evidence, the VA will determine how much your disability decreases your overall health and ability to function. Your rating will then help the VA calculate how much money to send you each month. It can also impact your eligibility for other benefits like VA healthcare.
The Disability Rating Percentage System
Your disability rating is expressed in a percentage from 0 to 100 percent in 10 percent increments based on the severity of your disability.
A rating closer to zero means that your disability exists and affects your day-to-day ability to function but not as much as a rating closer to 100 percent would. Ratings of at least 10 percent mean you’re entitled to disability compensation. The higher the percent rating, the more benefits a veteran with disabilities would receive.
Disability Ratings for Veterans With Multiple Disabilities
If you have multiple disabilities, the VA uses the “whole person theory” method to determine what is called a “combined disability rating.”
This method ensures that your total rating doesn’t exceed 100 percent since a person can’t be more than 100 percent able-bodied.
A combined disability rating isn’t additive. That means if you have one disability rated 40 percent and another disability rated 30 percent your combined disability rating does not equal 70 percent.
Here’s how the VA combines ratings for multiple disabilities:
- Disabilities are arranged in order of severity, beginning with the greatest disability.
- Using the Combined Ratings Table, the highest disability rating is located in the left column and the next lowest disability rating is along the top row.
- The combined rating is the number where the two intersect on the chart, rounded to the nearest 10 percent.
For example, if you have one disability rated 40 percent and another disability rated at 30 percent, you’d locate 40 in the leftmost column and 30 in the top row. The two meet at 58. This means your combined disability rating is rounded up to 60 percent.
For veterans with more than two disabilities, the VA uses the Combined Ratings Table and repeats the process for each additional disability.
The combined value of your first two disability ratings is found first, then is combined with the third-highest rating, and repeated until all disability ratings are added. The final value is then rounded to the nearest 10 percent to find your combined disability rating.
For example, if you have three disabilities rated 40, 30, and 20 percent, the combined value for the first two is 58.
Using the Combined Ratings Table, you’d find 58 in the leftmost column and 20 in the top row. The two meet at 66, so your combined disability rating would round up to 70 percent.
Unfortunately, these tables don’t always reflect the whole of the situation. Many veterans also have to fight for benefits, which is why our veterans’ disability attorney is here to serve.
How a Veterans Disability Attorney Can Help Change Your Rating
If you disagree with your initial disability rating or if your condition worsens over time and you feel you need a rate increase, there are steps you can take to change the amount of compensation you receive.
To apply for a rating increase, you can file an appeal or file a claim with the VA, depending on when you receive your rating. If you don’t agree with the outcome of your appeal or the claim decision, you can continue your case in a number of ways.
However, the process can become quite confusing. While you don’t need a veterans disability attorney to represent you for most of these actions, an experienced lawyer can help, especially if your case doesn’t go the way you had hoped.
The Law Offices of Michael Hartup can help Tennessee veterans receive the veterans’ disability compensation they deserve. Call (731) 513-5282 to get started. You may also like and follow our Facebook page for more resources on veterans’ disabilities, news, and more.