The Department of Veterans Affairs uses the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities to assign diagnostic codes and disability ratings for service-connected conditions. The VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities is located in Part 4 of Title 38 in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities
The VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) contains the disabilities for which veterans can be rated into 15 different categories depending on the bodily system to which the disability pertains. For instance, there are separate categories for the digestive system, respiratory system, and the musculoskeletal system. Each bodily system then lists diagnoses that can occur within that system with its corresponding diagnostic code, a four-digit code that corresponds to the disability. The rating schedule explains how disabilities will be rated for purposes of receiving VA disability compensation. For example, the diagnostic code for sleep apnea is 6847 under the respiratory conditions category. Diagnostic code 6847 is rated by the following schedular criteria:
- 0% – asymptomatic
- 30% – persistent day-time excessive sleepiness
- 50% – requires a breathing assistance device, such as a CPAP machine
- 100% – chronic respiratory failure, or requires a tracheostomy
Each rating possibility will describe symptoms and/or treatment for a condition, and VA rates veterans within a diagnostic code depending on if their symptoms or treatment match, or are comparable, to what is listed. Possible ratings for a condition range from 0% to 100% in increments of 10%.
What Does Each Rating Mean?
Each VA disability rating under each diagnostic code is meant to compensate veterans for the average impairment in earning capacity caused by their service-connected condition. The level of impairment is determined by VA looking at certain symptoms or treatment requirements. Generally, the more severe a disability is, the higher the rating a veteran will receive for that disability.
Disability ratings are determined by VA based on the evidence in the veteran’s record, such as medical treatment notes, lay statements, and VA examinations. When rating a disability, VA will look at this evidence and determine which rating best compensates the veteran for the severity of that disability.
What If My Condition Is Not Listed?
If a condition is not listed in the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, but a veteran is granted service connection, VA will rate that disability as analogous to another condition that is listed in the VASRD. Essentially, analogous ratings are ratings given to conditions that are not explicitly included in the VASRD. They are assigned based on what condition that is listed most closely matches the overall symptoms and/or treatment of that disability that VA is trying to rate. For this type of rating, VA will assign the diagnostic code of the condition that most closely matches, but they will hyphenate that diagnostic code as a way of noting that it is an analogous rating.
A diagnostic code for an analogous rating will typically look like this: 8199-8100. This specific code would be for a rating for headaches, rated analogous to migraine headaches. If a diagnostic code is hyphenated, then that disability is being rated analogous.
Does VA Update the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities?
VA does update the VASRD to add new conditions and/or alter the rating criteria for the conditions already listed. VA began updating the rating schedule for all 15 bodily systems in September 2017, for the first time since 1945.