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Staged Ratings Definition

Staged ratings are when VA assigns different ratings for the same condition over a period of time based on the severity of the condition. Since claims can take multiple years to be resolved, VA looks at how the severity of a condition changed during that period of time and rates the veteran accordingly. There are three main types of staged ratings that VA applies:

Staged Ratings Based on Changing Severity

This type of staged rating can occur when the veteran’s condition has worsened or improved from when they initially filed their claim for benefits and when the claim was finally decided. For example, assume a veteran filed a claim for service connection for PTSD in January 2014 but the VA did not make a final decision to grant the claim until April 1, 2020. The VA in assigning a rating would examine how severe the veteran’s PTSD was for the 6 plus year time frame. In this example, the VA could assign an initial rating of 10% for a year then increase it to 50% and if the veteran could not work due to the PTSD after January 2020 the VA could assign a 100% rating from that date.

Temporary Total Evaluations

In some cases, VA assigns temporary total ratings when a veteran undergoes a period of hospitalization. At times, these temporary total ratings can span for up to three months following hospital discharge or release from outpatient treatment. Following a temporary total evaluation, VA will rate the veteran’s condition based on the new level of severity. VA will assess the new level of severity based on medical records from the period of convalescence. However, if they are unable to adequately assess severity from the records, they will schedule the veteran for an exam to assign the appropriate rating.

Prestabilization Ratings

Prestabilization ratings are a type of staged rating applicable to service members who are separated form service with a debilitating condition. These ratings are designed to compensate newly separated service members for the impact of their disability on their capacity to work. There are only two possible prestabilization ratings: 50 and 100 percent.

When VA assigns a prestabilization rating, it will schedule the veteran for an examination between 6 and 12 months in the future to re-assess the severity of the veteran’s condition at that time. At that time, VA will likely assign a new rating.