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Veterans Law

Permanent and Total Disability Ratings

March 1, 2018

A veteran’s combined disability rating corresponds to a monthly monetary benefit intended to provide compensation based on the severity of service-connected disabilities and their impact on the veteran’s ability to work. In theory, the more severe a veteran’s service-connected condition is, the more money he or she is entitled to receive each month from the VA.

Total Disability

If a veteran is so disabled such that he or she is unable to acquire or maintain gainful employment due to a service-connected disability(ies), VA will assign a total disability rating of 100%. A total disability rating is assigned to veterans with one service-connected condition rated at 100%, multiple disabilities whose ratings combine to 100%, or to those eligible for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

Permanent Disability

A permanent VA disability means that VA has found that the severity of the disability is expected to continue for the remainder of the veteran’s life, with no improvement. Those considered to be “totally” disabled are not automatically considered to be “permanently” disabled.

Permanent and Total Disability

VA does not require those assigned a permanent and total disability rating to undergo any further medical examinations. If you are only considered to be “totally disabled,” VA will likely request follow-up medical exams in the future to check on the status of your condition. If a veteran is considered “permanently” disabled (such as a single amputation), VA will not require a follow-up exam.

VA assumes that veterans assigned a permanent and total (P&T) disability rating will have to live with a severely debilitating service-connected condition, or the residuals of one, for the rest of their lives.   In turn, these veterans will also receive VA compensation for the rest of their lives. One example of a permanent and total disability is the condition known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, because it is an incurable disease that can become more debilitating over time. If you are assigned a permanent and total disability rating, VA cannot reduce it.

Temporary & Total Rating

It is also possible for veterans to be assigned a “temporary and total” disability rating. These benefits are reserved for special circumstances where the veteran is subjected to lengthy hospital stays or long periods of convalescence due to a service-connected disability, or are transitioning out of the military with a condition incurred while in service.