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Veterans Law

VA Disability Benefits for 20 Percent Ratings

Bradley Hennings

May 8, 2024

VA Disability Benefits for 20 Percent Ratings

A 20 percent disability rating from VA entitles a veteran to both monetary compensation and additional benefits. In this article, we will discuss the 2024 compensation, benefits, and appeal options for veterans with a VA disability rating of 20 percent.

Veterans should research their VA ratings carefully. If the compensation and benefits do not align with their needs, veterans may want to consider one of the various ways to increase their rating.

Who We Are: Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick is the largest veterans law firm in the US. For more than 25 years, CCK has argued many of the cases that shape veterans law today. With over 300 years of combined experience, our attorneys and advocates have secured more than $1 billion in benefits for our clients. Contact us if we can assist.

VA Disability Compensation for 20 Percent Ratings

The core benefit for non-zero (“compensable”) ratings is monetary compensation. Note that for 2024, the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) was an increase of approximately 3.2 percent, resulting in a rise in compensation for disabled veterans.

As of December 1, 2023, veterans rated as 20 percent disabled are entitled to $338.49 in base monthly compensation. Note that this amount is modified by factors like dependents.

As of December 1st, 2023 the VA disability rate benefit amounts are as follows:

  • 0 percent disability rating: $0.00 per month
  • 10 percent disability rating: $171.23 per month
  • 20 percent disability rating: $338.49 per month
  • 30 percent disability rating: $524.31 per month
  • 40 percent disability rating: $755.28 per month
  • 50 percent disability rating: $1,075.16 per month
  • 60 percent disability rating: $1,361.88 per month
  • 70 percent disability rating: $1,716.28 per month
  • 80 percent disability rating: $1,995.01 per month
  • 90 percent disability rating: $2,241.91 per month
  • 100 percent disability rating: $3,737.85 per month

What Other Benefits Do 20% Disabled Veterans Qualify For?

Veterans with a 20 percent VA disability rating may qualify for several additional benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. These include the following:

VA Health Care Benefits

VA assigns Priority Groups to veterans who apply for enrollment in VA health care. A veteran’s Priority Group also determines whether veterans will be responsible for copayments for medications and different types of care at VA Medical Centers.

VA Health Care Eligibility and Priority Groups Explained

If you have a 20 percent disability rating, VA will assign you to Priority Group Three, the third-highest priority group. Priority Group Three does not require copays for inpatient or outpatient care, although it does generally require copayments for outpatient medication.

For example, the following services do not require inpatient and outpatient copays, regardless of the veteran’s Priority Group:

  • Care related to a service-connected disability
  • Special registry examinations offered by VA to evaluate possible health risks associated with military service (for example, the Agent Orange Registry exam)
  • Counseling and care for military sexual trauma
  • Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations
  • Care related to VA research projects
  • Readjustment counseling
  • Care for cancer of the head or neck caused by nose or throat radium treatments received while in the military
  • Individual or group smoking cessation, or weight reduction services
  • Hospice care

VA also has a health care travel pay reimbursement program to reimburse veterans and caregivers for mileage and other travel expenses to and from approved health care appointments.

Vision Care and Hearing Aids

Veterans who receive compensation for a service-connected condition can also qualify for routine vision and hearing exams and preventative tests. They may also be eligible for eyeglasses and hearing aids. More information about VA’s eyeglasses and hearing aid policy is available on this VA website.

Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

Veterans with service-connected conditions rated 10 percent or higher are eligible for VA’s Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program. VR&E helps disabled veterans and service members increase their likelihood of obtaining employment.

VR&E provides a range of career services, including:

  • Career counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment
  • Job training
  • Job-seeking skills
  • Résumé development and other work-readiness assistance
  • On-the-job-training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experience

Federal Hiring Preference

When applying for many federal jobs, an eligible disabled veteran can claim a hiring preference on their application or resume. This awards additional points to the veterans’ score on a civil service exam or application, giving them a higher ranking than non-veteran applicants.

Free Tax Preparation for Disabled Veterans

The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs assist thousands of veterans in preparing their taxes for free every year.

The IRS works with local community groups to train and certify VITA and TCE volunteers. These volunteers then help qualifying disabled veterans prepare their taxes. VITA and TCE also provide free electronic filing.

Life Insurance for Disabled Veterans

The Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance (S-DVI) offers low-cost insurance coverage to eligible service members and veterans. Veterans who meet requirements for S-DVI can receive up to $10,000 of coverage and $30,000 of supplemental coverage. The premium amount that veterans pay for S-DVI coverage depends on age, type of plan (term or permanent), and the amount of coverage.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) is a benefit that typically follows Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), provided the veteran meets certain qualifications. Veterans who continue to pay the premiums for VGLI after leaving service can keep their insurance. Veterans can receive between $10,000 and $40,000 in life insurance benefits, based on the amount of SGLI coverage they had when they left the military.

Burial and Plot Allowance

As of 2014, VA pays surviving spouses of disabled veterans a flat fee toward burial and plot or interment. This is a change from older policies that require itemization and reimbursement for specific expenses.

The burial allowance for a non-service-connected death is $300, and $2,000 for a death connected to military service. However, the fee varies based on the time and circumstances of death.

State Benefits for 20% Disabled Veterans

In addition to the VA benefits listed above, veterans with 20 percent VA disability ratings may also qualify for state-specific benefits. Some examples of these include free access to state parks, hunting and fishing licenses, and property tax exemptions. To learn more about benefits offered in your state, read this CCK blog.

How to File for an Increased Rating

There are a number of circumstances in which a veteran with a 20 percent disability rating may consider attempting to increase their rating. For example, a service-connected condition may worsen, a secondary condition may develop, or a veteran believes their rating should have been higher based on the severity of their disability.

How to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

In these situations, a veteran has several potential options, including:

  • File an appeal: Veterans have one year from the date of VA’s initial rating decision to file an appeal. There are three appeal lanes to choose from: (1) Higher-Level Review, (2) Supplemental Claim, and (3) Notice of Disagreement.
  • File for an increased rating: Veterans may file an increased rating claim if they are already service-connected for a condition and feel as though it has worsened.
  • File for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU): If a veteran’s service-connected condition prevents them from obtaining or maintaining substantially gainful employment, then they may be eligible for TDIU. TDIU provides monthly VA compensation equal to the 100 percent rate. Veterans with a 20 percent disability rating can apply for extraschedular TDIU.
  • File forsecondary service connection: Veterans who developed another condition as a result of their already service-connected disability can apply for secondary service-connected benefits. This can increase a veteran’s overall disability rating.

Many of these processes can be challenging. Veterans should consider enlisting a VA-accredited veterans law firm for assistance.

CCK Can Help with Your VA Claim or Appeal

If VA denied your claim for disability compensation or you are seeking an increased rating, then Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD may be able to help. The accredited claims agents and attorneys at CCK have decades of experience helping veterans win the disability compensation they deserve.

Call CCK today at 800-544-9144 to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team.

About the Author

Bio photo of Bradley Hennings

Bradley Hennings joined Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick as an attorney in January 2018 and currently serves as a Partner in the firm. His practice focuses on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Bradley