How to Increase VA Disability Rating from 80% to 100%
VA Disability Ratings Overview
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assigns those who have become disabled as a result of military service with a disability rating. This rating is based on how severe the veteran’s condition is and how the disability impairs their average earning capacity. Veterans receive a disability rating by filing a claim for service connection with VA. If VA decides in the veteran’s favor, it will grant service connection for the disability and assign a percentage rating based on severity, ranging from 0 percent to 100 percent. These ratings are assigned in 10 percent increments.
Each percentage increment corresponds to a dollar amount specified by VA in the VA disability pay chart. In other words, the higher the veteran’s disability rating, the more compensation they should receive each month.
VA Math and Combined Disability Ratings
If you have more than one service-connected condition, VA will calculate a combined rating to determine how much you will be paid each month. To calculate a combined rating, VA does not simply add your individual disability ratings together. For example, you do not receive an 80% VA disability rating if you have two disabilities rated at 40% each. Rather, rating specialists often use a Veterans Disability Calculator to figure out your combined rating. Nonetheless, the basic process is as follows:
Say you have one disability rated at 40 percent and one rated at 30 percent. Again, this does not mean that your combined rating would be 70 percent. Using the Combined Ratings Table, you would locate the row labeled 40 (the highest rating first) and then move along the row until you’re in line with the column labeled 30. There, the Table tells you the combined rating is 58. You would then round up to 60 and get 60 percent as your final combined disability rating. If you have more than two service-connected conditions, you can continue combining until all of your conditions are included.
For example, say you have disabilities rated at 40 percent, 30 percent, and 20 percent, respectively. Starting with the highest disability rating and continuing in descending order, you would combine 40 and 30 using the Table. Again, the Table tells you this is 58 (see above). Then, before rounding up, you would combine 58 and 20 – locating the row labeled 58 and moving along the row until you’re in line with the column labeled 20. The Table tells you the combined rating is 66. You would then round up to a final combined disability rating of 70 percent.
Increasing Your 80% VA Disability Rating
Under certain circumstances, VA may increase your disability rating in light of new evidence that your condition has worsened. If you think your service-connected condition warrants a higher disability rating than the one it is currently assigned, you have the right to file an appeal or file a claim for an increased rating. Under the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA), you have one year from the date the VA notified you of the decision to choose one of the following three appeal options: (1) higher-level review lane; (2) supplemental claim lane; or (3) Notice of Disagreement lane (i.e., appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals).
Filing a new claim for an increased rating usually occurs when you are outside of the one-year period to file an appeal with VA’s decision. Perhaps you received an initial rating decision that was consistent with your level of impairment, but several years later, you have found that your condition has worsened and you believe it now warrants a higher rating. VA will likely require you to file a new claim for an increased rating in which you can submit any new documentation or evidence you have supporting the fact that your service-connected condition has further deteriorated. VA has been unclear in whether you need to submit a supplemental claim or a VA Form 21-526 (initial claim) when filing a new claim for an increased rating. The Regional Offices have accepted both, reflecting an inconsistency in both the processing of claims and the adjudication of them. Due to the complexities of the AMA and the ramifications of a new claim versus a supplemental claim, it is advisable to consult with a VA-accredited legal representative to assist you with your filing.
Going from 80% to 100%
Because of the way in which VA adds disabilities together, it is difficult to go from a schedular 80% to a schedular 100% rating. You would need to have another condition rated at 80% in order to receive a 100% schedular rating. Alternatively, you would have to have multiple additional conditions that equaled another 80% rating. Therefore, veterans may consider filing claims for additional conditions that they believe may be due to service in the event that such conditions might combine for a higher rating.
When applying for increased ratings, veterans should consult VA’s rating criteria for their conditions. Veterans can read through the rating criteria and determine how their symptomology lines up with what is listed. Veterans can submit the following types of evidence to support their increased rating claims and appeals:
- In-Service Medical Records. These records include enlistment and separation examinations, as well as any hospital stays or sick calls during service.
- Private Medical Records. To obtain these records, veterans can typically request them directly from their private provider. If a veteran notifies VA that they are treating with a private provider and signs a release form, VA can request records directly from the provider to obtain the veteran’s medical records.
- VA Medical Records. VA can obtain these records directly from the VA medical center(s) where the veteran receives treatment. If a veteran wants to obtain these records themselves, they can request them directly from the VA medical center as well.
- C&P Examinations. In many cases, VA will schedule a veteran for a C&P exam to assess the merits of service connection or an increased rating for the veteran’s condition. If favorable, these examinations can be useful in substantiating a claim.
- Medical Opinions. Veterans can request a medical opinion from their treating doctor to help substantiate their claim. Medical opinions can come in handy if the veteran had an unfavorable C&P examination and wants to argue against the examiner’s findings.
- Lay Statements. A lay statement is a written statement from a veteran, family member, friend, or coworker outlining the onset and progression of the veteran’s condition. Statements can be submitted directly to VA.
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