Upon granting service connection for a veteran’s disability, VA assigns a disability rating for that disability based on the presence and severity of symptoms and treatment. VA disability ratings are designed to compensate veterans for the approximate loss of earning capacity due to their service-connected disability.
VA uses the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) to assign diagnostic codes and disability ratings to veterans’ disabilities. A diagnostic code is simply the numerical code assigned to a specific disability or condition that VA uses to identify and rate a veteran’s disability.
However, not all disabilities have their own diagnostic code in the VASRD. Those that do not have their own diagnostic code are given analogous ratings.
What Are Analogous Ratings and How Are They Assigned?
Analogous ratings are ratings given to conditions that are not explicitly included in the VASRD. Analogous ratings are assigned based on what condition most closely matches the overall symptoms or treatment of the disability that VA is trying to rate. Under 38 C.F.R. 4.20, VA can look at “not only the functions affected” when assigning an analogous rating, but also “the anatomical localization and symptomatology” to ensure they “are closely analogous.” Additionally, when assigning an analogous rating, VA must apply the rating criteria that is most favorable to the veteran, usually that which results in a higher disability rating for the veteran’s disability.
Analogous ratings are assigned in the decision in which VA grants service connection for a veteran’s condition. Typically, VA will explain in the decision that the disability is being rated analogous to another diagnostic code.
Common Examples of Analogous Ratings
These are some common examples of conditions that are rated analogous, and the criteria used to rate them:
Headaches – Tension or Sinus
Headaches, tension headaches, and sinus headaches do not have their own rating criteria. These are all rated analogous to the rating criteria for migraine headaches under diagnostic code 8100. The rating criteria for migraine headaches is based on the average occurrence of prostrating attacks. Prostrating attacks can include those that require a veteran to lie down due to the pain from their headache.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a common condition among veterans in which stomach acid flows up the food pipe and irritates the lining of the esophagus. Despite how common it is, VA does not have a diagnostic code for GERD and must rate it analogous. Frequently, GERD is rated analogous to hiatal hernia under diagnostic code 7346. The rating criteria for hiatal hernia is based in part on the presence of vomiting, pain, and regurgitation.
Do Analogous Ratings Decrease Compensation?
As mentioned above, VA is supposed to assign the rating criteria that is most favorable to the veteran, and that typically means the rating criteria that results in the higher disability rating. As many veterans know, the higher the disability rating, the more compensation a veteran receives.
However, VA does not always assign the most applicable rating criteria when assigning an analogous rating. If a veteran or their advocate believes that they should be getting more compensation for their condition, they can argue that the veteran be rated under another, more fitting rating criteria that could result in more compensation.