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A Metaphor for VA Math

If you have multiple service-connected disabilities, VA will calculate your combined rating based on the individual ratings you received for each disability. However, VA does not just add your ratings together. For example, using three sample ratings, 40% for back pain, 30% for PTSD, and 20% for scars, the combined rating would not equal 90%. The combined rating would be 70%. So how is VA getting these numbers?

When thinking about VA’s calculations, imagine a glass of juice- let’s call it “Efficiency Juice.” Disabilities decrease a veteran’s efficiency at tasks associated with work, daily activities, and social interactions. As disability ratings increase, a veteran’s efficiency decreases. VA calculates each decrease in efficiency one at a time, based on each disability’s assigned rating and the remaining efficiency.

With no VA disability ratings, or a 0% VA rating, veterans are considered 100% efficient (a full glass of efficiency juice). Each disability added is like a big gulp of juice consuming a certain percentage. Using the ratings from earlier, 40 %, 30%, and 20%, start with the highest disability rating and move to the lowest. With a 40% rating for back pain, efficiency would be reduced to 60%. This is done by doing: 40% of 100% = 40% and 100% – 40% = 60%. Moving to the 30% rating for PTSD, efficiency is starting at 60% from the first rating, rather than going back to 100%. The math here Is 30% of 60% = 18% and 60% – 18% =42%. Meaning, that this rating leaves us with 42% efficiency left. The final rating is a 20% rating for scars. This disability rating consumes 20% of the remaining 42% efficiency, leaving us with 33.6% efficiency.

After calculating each efficiency level after each rating, subtract the remaining efficiency from 100% and (only then) round to the nearest 10% and there you have your combined rating. For this scenario, 100% – 33.6% = 66.4%, with rounding would be a combined rating of 70%. If this math is still too complicated, we made a VA disability calculator for you to try.

To learn more, read the full blog here – What does your VA disability rating mean?

va math infographic