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Veterans Law

Understanding Your VA Disability Compensation Award Letter

November 21, 2018
VA award letter

What is a VA Award Letter?

A VA award letter is issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs when a decision has been made regarding a veteran’s claim for benefits.  Specifically, this letter indicates a veteran’s disability ratings along with the corresponding amount of monthly compensation.  The date of a VA award letter is especially important, because veterans will have one year from that date to file a timely Notice of Disagreement. 

What Does a VA Award Letter Look Like?

The VA award letter will typically begin with VA stating, “We made a decision on your VA benefits”.  The letter will then guide the veteran through the details surrounding the decision and include information regarding the next steps a veteran may take now that a decision has been issued.  The section labeled “What We Decided”, lists the claimed condition(s) and provides a brief description of the decision.  For example, if you were granted an increased rating for PTSD, this section might display the following:

  • Evaluation of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is currently evaluated at 30 percent disabling, is increased to 50 percent effective January 29, 2012.

Here, the VA award letter indicates which disability rating is assigned and also provides the effective date for the award.  Following this written description, the VA award letter may include a combined rating evaluation table, showing your combined disability rating as it relates to the effective dates.  Using the example provided above, the combined rating evaluation table might look like this if you are service-connected for PTSD alone:

Combined Rating EvaluationEffective Date
30%February 11, 2009
50%January 29, 2012

The VA award letter then may include another table regarding payment which demonstrates the amount of monthly compensation you will receive as it corresponds to the combined evaluations and effective dates listed above.  This table will also indicate the reason for each monthly payment as shown below:

Monthly Entitlement AmountPayment Start DateReason
$417.15March 1, 2009Cost of Living Adjustment
$417.15March 1, 2010Cost of Living Adjustment
$417.15March 1, 2011Cost of Living Adjustment
$855.41February 1, 2012Compensation Rating Adjustment

Beneath this table, the VA award letter will also indicate the number of dependents for which you are receiving additional compensation.  If you are not receiving dependency benefits, it will typically state, “We are currently paying you as a single Veteran with no dependents”.

What Else is Included in a VA Award Letter?

A VA award letter also includes information regarding the next steps a veteran may take if he or she disagrees with the decision that was made, along with resources should the veteran have any questions.  Specifically, it attaches a Notice of Disagreement form so that a veteran can file an appeal in response to the decision, along with VA Form 4107, which explains a veteran’s rights to appeal.

Furthermore, there is an additional benefits section that outlines other benefit programs VA offers such as education, training, and student loans; medical care and treatment; home adaptation/loans, automobile benefits, and life insurance; payment for travel; and state benefits.  Most importantly though, the VA award letter encloses a copy of the Rating Decision, which further explains the reasons and bases for the decision.