The VA calculates veterans’ disability compensation and benefits based on the severity of a veteran’s condition and the extent to which it limits the ability to work and carry out activities of daily living. The more disabling your condition, the more you are eligible to receive in monthly benefits.
When you apply for benefits, the VA rates your disability as part of a grant of benefits. Your approval notice will contain this rating.
How Does the VA Disability Rating System Work?
During the review and approval process, the VA assigns your condition a “disability rating.” The evidence you submit to demonstrate the severity of your disability helps the VA determine what rating your condition warrants.
Most VA disability ratings range between 0 and 100 percent in increments of 10. There are exceptions, however. For example, mental health conditions are rated at 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, and 100-percent. Intervertebral disc syndrome has a maximum disability rating of 60-percent when evaluated based on incapacitating episodes.
It is important to know that not all disabilities are rated the same way or under the same criteria. The VA generally reserves the 0-percent rating for conditions that it does not determine to be significantly limiting. On the other hand, the 100-percent rating typically corresponds with total disability, or a condition that VA deems extremely limiting. The ratings in between are determined based on rating criteria, which is why the thoroughness and credibility of the evidence you submit is so important.
You must receive a disability rating of 10-percent or higher to be eligible for a monthly benefit check from the VA. At a 0-percent rating, you can qualify for certain ancillary benefits, such as health care, but you will not receive monthly compensation.
Current VA Disability Compensation Amounts Based on Rating
The VA updates its schedule of benefits each year. As of December 2018, the monthly compensation levels based on combined disability ratings are as follows:
- 10 percent combined disability rating: $140.05 a month
- 20 percent combined disability rating: $276.84 a month
- 30 percent combined disability rating: $428.83 a month
- 40 percent combined disability rating: $617.73 a month
- 50 percent combined disability rating: $879.36 a month
- 60 percent combined disability rating: $1,113.86 a month
- 70 percent combined disability rating: $1,403.71 a month
- 80 percent combined disability rating: $1,631.69 a month
- 90 percent combined disability rating: $1,833.62 a month
- 100 percent combined disability rating: $3,057.13 a month
At a rating of 30 percent or higher, veterans are eligible for additional benefits for dependents living in their household. If your spouse, minor children, or parents live with you and depend on you financially, you can receive additional monthly compensation for them.
How Do Benefits Work if I have Two Separate Service-Connected Medical Conditions?
Let’s say you have two separate medical conditions, both of which are service-connected and thus qualify for VA disability compensation. How will the VA combine these ratings?
For instance, if you have one disability rated at 60-percent, and another rated at 20-percent, you will not receive compensation at the 80-percent level. The VA does not add your ratings together to determine your total rating. Instead, it has its own formula to combine multiple disability ratings.
The formula is meant to account for the percentage of your ability that is taken away due to your service-connected condition. Supplemental to this formula is the VA rating table. The table provides and easier way to determine your combined rating. Based on this table, you would end up with 68-percent, not 80. However, the rules governing disability ratings require that the VA round up or down to the nearest number divisible by 10. In this case, you would receive a 70-percent rating.
The table can be confusing. Take a look at our VA disability calculator to determine your VA disability rating.
Note: Depending on your conditions’ combined rating and your ability to sustain employment, you may be eligible for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). TDIU allows veterans to be compensated at the 100-percent rate in cases where their service-connected disabilities impact their ability to work.
You might also be entitled to Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) if you suffered a specific type of injury (e.g., amputation) or require assistance with activities of daily living and self-care due to your service-connected disabilities. To be eligible for most types of SMC, veterans must be receiving TDIU or have a combined rating of 100-percent. As a client of CCK, we will help you determine if you are eligible for SMC and what your monthly benefit amount would be.
Have Additional Questions? Contact the Legal Team at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD Today for a Free Consultation.
The VA is not always correct when calculating disability ratings. If you believe your service-connected condition warrants a higher rating, speak with a veterans advocate at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD. Our consultations are always free to determine if we are able to assist you with your VA disability case. Call us today: 800-544-9144.
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