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How to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

How to Increase Your VA Disability Rating
  1. VA Disability Ratings (Background)
    • VA Rating Decisions & What they can tell you
    • Why does your VA disability rating matter?
    • Who assigns VA ratings?
  2. Potential Risks of asking for a rating increase
  3. Ways to ask VA for a higher rating (Legacy system and AMA system)
  4. Evidence for an increased rating claim
  5. VA Exams for Increased Rating Claims (C&P Exams)
  6. Effective Dates for Increased Ratings & How to make sure VA gets it right
  7. Viewer Q: How do I get a hold of a VA claim that was filed before VA’s records became electronic?
  8. If you already have a 100% disability rating, can you still increase your rating/compensation? (Special Monthly Compensation – SMC)
  9. Viewer Q: Can you request a veteran’s c-file (claim file)?
  10. Viewer Q: Does knee instability that requires the use of a cane count as loss of use or is there a higher standard?
  11. Extraschedular Ratings (Extra schedular ratings) & Diagnostic Codes
  12. Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) – VA rating increase for veterans who can’t work

Video Transcript.

Jenna: Good afternoon and welcome to CCK live. My name is Jenna Zellmer, I’m an attorney here at CCK and I practice Veterans Benefits Appeals. Joining me today are Emma Peterson and Lindy Nash, they’re also attorneys working on veteran’s claims. So, last week we talked about the Elements of Service Connection and how to prove that your disability was related to service and as a natural progression, this week we’re going to be talking about increased ratings. So, before we get into how a veteran can get a higher rating for his disability, Emma, can you give us a little bit of background on how a veteran first receives the disability rating?

Emma: Sure, so when VA grants you service connection for a particular disability, they look to a schedule of disability ratings, you know they have any number of diseases and disabilities in 38 USC section four– sorry, CFR section four has all different diagnostic codes with various different disability ratings based on the severity of symptoms you suffer from. So when you first get service connected, the regional office will look at that criteria compare it to the symptoms you have, the medical evidence in your record, things like that, and they will assign you a specific rating. So you will you know, receive a decision saying service connections been granted for tinnitus, and you’re going to receive a 10% rating for that.

Jenna: Okay. If you guys have any questions as we go on throughout this half hour or so please feel free to leave them in the comments below. We’ll do our best to answer them either on the video or in the comments, and also please feel free to visit our CCK website at there’s a lot of great information that will be linking to in the comments as well. So you mentioned– you know, a veteran is going to receive a rating decision, what does that look like? How– because I think a lot of times veterans receive a lot of paperwork from VA, so they see Board decisions, they see rating decisions, they see just random other letters, so how do you identify a rating decision?

Emma: Sure. So it will say, rating decision on it. It might say DRO decision review officer decision, but you will know when you see it because generally, there’s two things that are included a cover letter, saying we have made a decision on your appeal or your claim and then and sort of in plain English telling you what they have done. Then the second document will be the actual decision. There will be an emblem right in the center of VA and literally centered right in the middle of the paper and that’s the only document that has that sort of seal of VA right in the top center. So if you see that, you see the words rating decision, and then it tells you we granted one, we have denied two, we granted three and then thereafter you see a bunch of reasons as to why, that is your rating decision.

Jenna: Okay, great. Lindy so, Emma kind of mentioned that this is the next step after you receive service connection. So why does the rating that you received book like the diagnostic code and the person and why does it all matter?

Lindy: Sure. So the rating that you receive is extremely important because that dictates the amount of compensation that you get. So, the higher the rating the better in terms of benefits that you will receive. So we’ll get into this a little bit later. But your overall combined rating is what truly dictates the amount of money you get every month. So it can be as little as, I believe a 10% is $140 and then 100% right now, I believe is just over 3000. So as you can see there’s a large gap with different amounts of money and it really makes a huge difference depending on what your rating is.

Jenna: Yes. I think something that you mentioned was really important was your combined rating. You mentioned we will get into a little bit of that later, but you can actually see your combined rating on the final piece of paperwork that’s in their rating decision, which is what we call the code sheet. It’s a lot of different boxes and it lists all of your disabilities that you are currently service connected for, what they are rated at, the effective date that they are rated at, and then what your overall combined rating is, so that’s important.

Emma: I will say that we have heard from a lot of veterans consummately that VA has not been sending the code sheet to veteran so, if you have one that’s great. That’s a really great document to hold on to because like you said it has effective dates, when does this happen, when you get paid X amount of money, and you can ask VA for it.

Jenna: Right, if it does not come with your rating. So that is something that you want to ask for.

Emma: Yes.

Jenna: Either you can reach out to your accredited representatives, or Veteran Service Organization or, if you are represented by a private attorney, you can see our colleagues at the Disabled American Veterans, their one of the largest VSO’s in the country, so that’s great. So– and then, we mentioned a lot about receiving this rating decision but who is– the one person who is actually assigning the ratings, who is making that initial decision?

Emma: So a rater at the regional office will making decision, will be going through the evidence, comparing it to the diagnostic codes and the different disability levels and those diagnostic codes, and then assigning you a rating. So really is a first line reviewer who’s signing that initial rating. Now, as you appeal it, if you do not agree with it or you decide to move the appeal process, it could be that someone higher up in the chain of the VA.

Jenna: You mentioned DRO prior.

Emma: Right, right, we will be looking at it, and eventually even the Board itself can pick particular rating, so it might be a Board judge if you get all the way up with VA.

Jenna: So there’s a whole bunch of different possibilities within the VA.

Emma: Absolutely, but it starts out with that initial first line rater.

Jenna: Okay, great. So, now that we have a little bit of background on how VA assigns ratings, and what exactly why ratings matter what they are, what should veterans really consider when they think that they need to file an increase rating?

Lindy: Yes. We get this question frequently because sometimes, if you’re looking to file an increase rating claim, there often comes a little bit of risk with that. You know, if you believe that you’re warranted an increase rating that’s great, and you should definitely file for it but before you do, you should always kind of think about the evidence you’re submitting, what the disability is. I would suggest looking at the diagnostic code that’s assigned to your disability to kind of see how it is broken down. Really look at the evidence that you’re submitting to make sure that, what you have corresponds to an increase rating because you are running the risk of unfortunately getting a reduction. It is kind of, asking the VA to take a look into your file, look at your evidence, look at a recent exam, scheduling for another exam and it’s really drawing attention to your claim. So, you do run a little bit of a risk anytime you file increase rating claim, but if you have the evidence to support it, then you should 100% file for it.

Jenna: Emma, how do you know if you are at risk for reduction? What factors should the veteran consider?

Emma: I mean that’s tricky to know off the bat, if you’re going to be at risk. I think that if you– maybe we’re right on the verge before or VA has told you that they’re going to schedule you for a future exam in your initial decision, or they have even mentioned to you in that cover, we think this might be separate to improvement down the line. That’s one key that they might be already thinking about looking at your file again, and it does not mean they’re going to do it. They have to give you notice and tell you about why they’re going to do it and you have an opportunity to prevent that from happening. But that’s one indication that you might be at risk.

Jenna: Yes. I think you mentioned something really important there, you know if VA has kind of signaled that they think that your condition might improve, and there’s certain disabilities that are subject to maybe more improvement others, cancer for example, is often– you know when cancer is active, you can get 100% rating but that’s– as soon as you are in remission that’s rating is going to go down. So, if you are at a mid-level rating for your cancer residuals, but you’re still in remission, it– there might be a chance there that you would run the risk of asking for a higher rating. Great. So, how does a veteran kind of go about asking for a higher rating? Can you appeal the initial decision? Is it a brand new claim? How does it work?

Lindy: Sure. So, depends on your situation but you can– you know, say you became service connected for PTSD 10 years ago, and you were assigned a 30% rating at the time and you were satisfied with that. So, you did not appeal and you have had that 30% rating for the last10, 20 years whatever it is, and but then recently you are thinking, Oh, my symptoms have really increased, I think I deserve a higher rating than this. So right now, you can file an increase rating claim, fresh out of the box, on what we call the 526 easy form. So that is a typical form, you can find it on the VA’s website, and you can lay out all your information and request that increase rating. Or there’s another way to do it where if you file your initial service connection claim, you got your rating decision that Grant Service Connection assigns you say, the 30% rating, but you don’t like that 30% rating. It is not adequate, it does not take into account everything you are experiencing, so you can file an appeal with that rating decision and ask for an increased rating from there.

Jenna: So, is actually filing the notice of disagreement?

Lindy: Yes, exactly.

Jenna: Okay.

Lindy: Wow.

Jenna: I’m just going to say, wow.

Emma: Wow, and we have a lot of content out there about AMA and the new VA appeal system. So please check out our website, check out our video that details the whole AMA process from beginning to end but just note that you now have multiple choices to pick one you want to disagree with that rating division. One is the NOD and that gets you right to the Board of appeals, you also have a couple other options that keep you at the regional office but keeps your appeal going. Please check those out because it is very complex. So, depending on when that rating decisions issued, you might have to either use the new AMA system or if you have a decision that’s before February 19, 2019, you’re probably still in the legacy system and you have to file an NOD.

Lindy: Yes, So I would pay attention to whatever type of decision you have in front of you right now or if you do file that claim today, you will be in AMA once you get your decision, but if you already have a decision, I would look at the date and also within there, there should be instruction as to the type of options you have going forward.  So, I would consider reading very closely your ratings decision.

Emma: Right.

Jenna: Yes. So, I am still living in the legacy world and so which is why I immediately thought about NOD’s but, another option in the AMA system, which is Appeals Modernization Act, we call it a lot of different things, will link to some information about that. Another option is a Supplemental Claim Line. So in Supplemental Claim Line, the duty system applies and so if you have receive a rating decision that has assigned a certain rating, and you think that your disability is, worse than that, it’s possible that VA would still have the duty to help you develop that evidence and potentially get into an exam. You know, just try to help you demonstrate that you have a higher rating in Supplemental Claim Line. So, I think that kind of segues really nicely into what kind of evidence a veteran should submit, and Supplemental Claim Line you need to submit new evidence. So, what kind of evidence do you need to support an increase rating claim?

Emma: I think there’s two key pieces of evidence you’re going to want to have. One would be medical evidence, either from your treating doctor, or from a specialist that you see detailing your disability the symptoms you suffer from, and if at all possible if you can get a printout or show them the criteria VA uses, if that doctor can compare your symptoms to the criteria and even provide, even for the short opinion about you know why you are at a certain disability level, that would certainly be very helpful. The other key piece of evidence that you are going to want to submit if you can is lay evidence. Meaning statements from yourself, no one knows you and what you are suffering from better than you, but also friends and family that maybe have a different perspective and can offer some corroboration and support to what you are saying about how your symptoms affect your day to day life. So, spouses, family, friends that see you once a week for coffee, anyone really can help you support that increased rating.

Jenna: I think it’s really important to let you know anybody who you’re going to ask to write a statement about you, just describe what they personally have observed. If your spouse for example they live with you every day, and so they can probably track how your disability has worsened over the years, how it has affected them, how it’s affected your daily life. So those can be really powerful statements. So, I think it is really important not to discount it, in favor of just objective medical evidence.

Emma: Right.

Jenna: So I mentioned before, that sometimes be able to obtain a new examination during these increase rating claims. So Lindy, what could veterans expect when they go to a VA examination?

Lindy: Sure. So when you go to the VA examination, probably one of the first things to remember is that you should be aware that people—people, VA. [laughter] People who work in the VA are watching you, pretty much from the minute you step in the door. So just be cognizant that you are being watched. [laughter] That sounds sketchy. I don’t mean it like that. [laughter] But just be aware that people are–

Jenna: Observing you.

Emma: Absolutely.

Lindy: So keep that in mind. Also now is not the time to kind of hide your symptoms or, be tough and say that it’s not a big deal. It is a big deal. Tell them how you are feeling, express yourselves, talk about the pain you are in, talk about everything that you’re experiencing. Now is not the time to hold back because these VA exams are heavily relied upon in the rate decisions. You know, I cannot tell you the decisions we read, and sometimes they give no probative value to the private opinions that we submit but they give all the value to the VA exams. So please be honest and keep in mind that they’re looking at your current condition and not what you suffered in service or the event that has already occurred, they’re not focusing on that as much. It’s more about your current symptoms and what you are going through right now.

Jenna: Yes. I think that we have previously done an entire Facebook Live on VA examinations and so, there’s a lot of information about kind of what to expect at VA exams and how you should prepare and we can link to that in the comments. But I think one thing that you really mentioned that was powerful to me was that, is to be honest, not just in don’t downplay the system symptoms but also don’t exaggerate them. I think that’s kind of what you meant when you said that they are observing you.

Also don’t get upset that these examiners are asking very pointed questions about your current disability because, I think a lot of times veterans go in and they want to build rapport with these examiners and kind of explain the history of their claim, which is totally fair. You know, this is something that you live with every day, but the examiners are there for a very specific purpose. They’re not there to treat you. They probably have a lot of exams to go through and so they’re kind of trying to get to the point. So I think a lot of times we’ll couple of clients who are kind of upset about how they were treated with VA exams. But if you go on there with the right expectations and kind of know what the VA examiners need, I think it will help everyone.

Emma: Absolutely.

Lindy: Yes, it definitely. Then a further thing about what I meant earlier is that, if you– I’ve seen it before where doctors say, “Oh, veteran claims that they use a walker, but no walker was used today.” Something like that. If you use a cane or a walker or a brace, continue to use that at your appointment. Don’t leave it at home or forget it or anything like that because they will rely on that to further say you’re not credible or anything along those lines. So I just meant, they are looking at the total package.

Jenna: Yes.

Emma: I think most importantly, is that if you do get scheduled for an exam, please go. If you can’t attend because sometimes you can’t, that’s completely fair. Call VA and verify, verify, verify that they’re going to reschedule that examination because I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen decisions come out that just deny the increased rating. The evidence was there but the veteran did not attend the VA examination. So they just decided to deny. So if you do get scheduled, or you know you’re going to be scheduled, be on the lookout in the mail for a notice indicating when and where the exam is going to be because you must attend. If you cannot attend, like I said, verify–

Jenna: Make sure there is some good cause.

Emma: Multiple times over in writing on the phone, make sure you are saving, take down names and agree to reschedule your exam, just in case you have to bring it up later.

Jenna: Yes. So that’s kind of what evidence that you need to submit. I think we covered everything there. So I mentioned earlier, the code sheet that is included in your rating decision includes not only your combined rating, but also the effective dates.

Emma: Right.

Jenna: So, first of all I think that we will probably have done a Facebook Live and we definitely have blog posts about effective dates in general but Emma, can you talk a little bit about effective dates and when you file an increasing claim what your effective date should be?

Emma: Sure, sure. So effective date is the date VA is going to pay you at that certain rate. So, if you are being assigned a 50% rating as of June 1 2018, you know, as of that month you’re going to start to receive the increased payment in your monthly VA deposit. The effective date for an increased rating will either be the date you filed for that. Increase rating claim is the date you got that five to six form into VA, or it might even be a year up to a year before then. So there’s a regulation that says that if VA can determine that your rating increased up to a year prior, your effective date could be back date. So it’s important to consider submitting evidence and lay evidence about what happened a year leading up to your decision to file an increased rating claim.

The other effective data could happen as we all know VA appeals can take quite a long period of time, to the point where maybe your condition has worsened a step further during your appeal process. So, your increased rating could also be the date that you became entitled to it, the date that entitlement arose could be in the middle of your appeal period. So let’s say you start out with a 10% for PTSD, you want to 35 years into it, you think you’re at a 50 just know that the VA could assign you staged ratings meaning you’re 30% as of the date you file that increased rating claim and a 50, as of five years later, when they finally got around to getting the VA exam, and then so on and so forth. So, it really is similar to service connection but the earlier that you get your claim in, the more likely you are to get that earlier effective date.

Jenna: Great. I think you mentioned it can be whatever VA kind of determines that your rating increased. So Lindy, how does VA kind of identify when a rating should be effective and can you do anything? Can veterans do anything to kind of make sure that those dates are correct?

Lindy: Yes. It’s hard to say because VA does their own thing, but it’s always helpful when veterans submit really clear evidence whether that’s a late statement saying, you know within this appeal period starting January 1st, 2012, I noticed a significant increase in my back disability, I was unable to get in bed and so on. So I would say the more clear you lay out your symptoms and when you are experiencing them, that can help with any potential stage ratings in the future. Stage ratings are not usually something that we request it kind of, I find that to listening in VA assign [?] on their own.

Jenna: I think a lot of times the VA will choose the date with the veteran attended the VA examination.

Emma: Yes.

Lindy: Definitely.

Jenna: So that is usually not correct. So generally, you if you are filing an increase rating claim, you’re scheduled for an exam months later. So it’s likely that your disability worsened prior to the time that you were scheduled for an exam, but because the exam really documented it in medical evidence that’s the date that VA chose. So you can certainly like Lindy said, submit late assignments that kind of correct that. Clarify that just because you went to an exam on a certain date does not mean that was the day that your exam or your disability suddenly–

Emma: Magically.

Jenna: –worsened.

Emma: I will go further and say–

Jenna: All of a sudden you woke up on the day of the VA exam.

Emma: All of a sudden. What a coincidence!

Jenna: So that’s something to look out for. Because I think that, I see that allies that they just use it, because it is an easy date and they have a lot of claims to process and so it is something that they can just kind of check off, but—All right, so, just to wrap up, you know effective dates–

Emma: We have a question.

Jenna: Oh, yes, we do. Thank you.

Emma: You’re welcome.

Jenna: So this question is from Jack. How do I get a hold of a previous VA denial prior to electronic record keeping? Anybody have any thoughts?

Emma: I would start by calling the customer service line.

Lindy: Yes.

Emma: Because VA should have it.

Jenna: Yes.

Emma: I mean if you filed a claim they had a claim file for you. It should not have been destroyed unless you know it disappeared, it fell off a truck.

Jenna: Right.

Emma: Or it–

Lindy: Fire.

Jenna: Well, so I think, one important thing to note is that even though VA hasn’t been keeping files electronically for the whole history of VA, they have made a push in the few– in the last recent years to make all the paper files–

Emma: Right.

Jenna: –electronically and so even if you filed a claim prior to when VA was keeping records electronically, that paper file claim should be. I believe at this point, everything should be scanned in, to VA system and so, we see this a lot, you can see, you can tell the difference between when VA was keeping electronic records anyone could be VA was keeping paper records because you see these like, sometimes illegible copies, sometimes just a little bit harder to read than the electronic copies. But if you have a claim that was submitted prior to electronic record keeping there’s a whole lot of options there– is it– do you think that the claim was never adjudicated or are you trying to– try to reopen acclaim? There’s a lot of questions that I think you probably want to talk to a representative about. But if you are looking just for that claim, just to see what it was like and see what you asked for, calling customer service is a really good option. Then asking your rep to– or you can probably look at it yourself into VA’s electronic records management system which is called veterans benefits management system. I think there are a couple other VA electronic records out there, so–

Emma: Or nothing could, no harm and showing up at your local arrow.

Jenna: Yes.

Lindy: I was going to say.

Emma: Keep going and rehearsing and talking to a person and explaining exactly what you are looking for, what decision you are looking for. When it came out, that definitely can’t hurt. So it should exist. It shouldn’t be just gone because it was paper and not electronic.

Jenna: Yes. Good. So I think– you know, we see this sometimes veterans have a combined 100% rating, or is that the end of the road is or what else can veterans do if they still think that their not really being compensated to the full effects that their disability has on their life?

Emma: Sure. So there are levels above 100% and everyone knows about them.

But their first special circumstances and because they’re special, it’s called special monthly compensation. So if a veteran has a particular combination of disabilities that are really above and beyond that 100% total disabled, disabling level and the 100% means you’re totally socially occupationally impaired or poor occupational impaired–paired really. So if you have above and beyond that, you know loss of use of your legs. You need aide attendance from another person to help you with your activities of daily living like cooking, cleaning, bathing, things like that. There are extra levels, extra monthly kickers that get added on to your compensation that are available. But those are like I said, special circumstances so you would want to talk with your VSO–

Jenna: Very complicated.

Emma: –your rep. There’s a lot of– in addition to just figuring out combinations, Math and VA Math which gets really nuanced and detailed, so you’re going to want to talk about that but know that it exists because if you need someone else to really help you with day to day life, you might be entitled to an extra monthly amount of compensation.

Jenna: Yes. You mentioned VA Math which I think we mentioned before is related to combined ratings so VA, does not just add up a veterans multiple disabilities and get a nice round number there’s a lot of weird math involved and so we do actually have a blog post about that. VA has a whole ratings table that you can get to use to figure out what your combined rating should be. If you don’t want to use that table you can use our handy calculator on our website at, I use it all the time. So just so you know, when you are looking at your combined ratings and you are thinking about special monthly compensation, VA Math is complicated, special monthly compensation is complicated. It’s definitely something that you want to maybe ask your rep about.

Emma: You got another question.

Jenna: Yes.

Emma: From Carol.

Jenna: You want to ask it?

Emma: Sure. Can you request a veteran C file? So Carol, do you mean can we request a veteran C file? Or can you request your own? Are you questing for a friend? No, but in all seriousness, an individual can request a copy of their own C file, their own claim file from VA, they should send it to you on disk, on a CD disc as representatives–

Jenna: It’s usually because the claims file has thousands of papers.

Emma: Correct. Correct.

Jenna: So you don’t really want that.

Emma: You don’t want the paper file. Trust me. But obviously, we as representatives request it all the time on behalf of our clients–

Jenna: It does take a while.

Emma: Correct. Correct. So that is absolutely possibility. But if you were requesting on behalf of a friend that probably would not apply.

Jenna: Lexa asks, “Does knee instability that causes the use of a cane account as loss of use or is there a higher standard?” That’s actually a really great question.

Emma: Wonderful question.

Jenna: I think there’s an argument to be made that absolutely for sure. So, special monthly compensation, loss of use. I’m paraphrasing here, but it’s basically–would you be equally served with a prosthetic. So if your leg that is so bad that you require a cane, and if you did not have the cane you would need a prosthetic. It would be kind of the equal outcome, you can definitely make that argument. I think it’s really important to– as we mentioned before about kind of figuring out the evidence, documenting everything and late statements and getting private doctor’s opinions and private treatment notes and VA treatment notes and kind of explaining how badly you can’t use your leg.

Emma: Right. So I think the point is there is that just using a cane on its own is not going to be enough to prove loss of use. You’re going to have to meet the loss of you standard, which Jenna mentioned but what we certainly made, at least at the court level, and I think there is a caliber argument for saying that a cane is a prosthetic, you already are using a prosthetic if you have a lack of propulsion, lack of motion.

Jenna: Yes. That’s language from the regulation as well.

Emma: Absolutely. So there’s certainly room to explore that, depending on the facts of your particular case.

Jenna: Yes. That’s definitely something you want to reach out to your representative about, just kind of– you know, if that meets the criteria for loss of use or a higher rating. So the last thing– last couple things I wanted to mention, it actually came kind of reminded me of it. Lindy, you want to talk a little bit about extra schedular ratings?

Lindy: Yes. So extra schedular ratings are an options. It basically– I like to think of it as when, say your service method for back disability and the back diagnostic code is pretty much based on limitation of motion. That’s kind of all it takes into account. But saying your back disability, besides limitation, emotion also gives you trouble sleeping and it causes depression and you socially isolated, because it’s too painful to go out of your house. All of those things are not adequately compensated by the rating schedule. So that’s a perfect example in my opinion.

Jenna: Perfect example.

Lindy: I mean extra schedular rating and when you deserve one, so say like I said, the rating schedule does not adequately compensate you for what you’re going through then I would suggest filing for an extra schedular rating.

Jenna: Yes. I think this goes back to Emma’s point in the very beginning, when we’re talking about diagnostic codes and how section for part four of the of the VA title regulations as all based on different diagnostic codes. Every disability is assigned to code and, under that code is all different criteria for what needs a certain disability rating and so, if you have something that’s totally outside of that rating, as the assigned rating, and there’s no other real way to get compensation for that, then X schedular is an option. Emma, do you have a caveat to that?

Emma: I do.

Jenna: Okay.

Emma: Actually, schedular is also difficult to obtain.

Jenna and Lindy: Yes.

Emma: So I would not put all your eggs in that basket. But there are circumstances that certainly warranted so looking at you know, I was thinking like you were saying of kind of a gap filler?

Jenna: Yes.

Emma: It’s– you know, the diagnostic codes are wide ranging but they can’t cover everything. Because there’s just a lot out there. So, if you have a truly unique circumstance and, it also impacts your ability to work in some way, you might have a good shot at getting that extra schedular rating. But there are other things you could look to besides that would be a separate rating for that depression, a secondary server connection. There’s other ways to go about getting compensated.

Jenna: Yes. We have some info on our website about that. I think the reason why, you know the cane question, remind me of it was that, we recently– well, I guess it has not been that recently now, but there was a case that we attempted to argue that veteran’s requirement of a cane should qualify them for extra schedular rating because nowhere in the diagnostic code does it mention having to use a cane and so, one of our attorneys valiantly argued that and unfortunately, we were not successful.

But we did get some really good language, in that case of the cases called spellers about how the loss of– the use of a cane informs the level of severity.

Emma: Right.

Jenna: So level severity goes to schedular ratings. So that’s just another reason why it’s really important you can– you know, just lay out all the ways that your disability affects you and all the different things that you require, in order to live your daily life and in order to be able to work or if you can’t work. Then hopefully, you know especially if you have a great rep either a VSO or an attorney, they can kind of use those facts and there’s a whole lot of different options, kind of to make sure that you’re getting compensated, either you extra schedular rating, increase rating, separating and lots of different options there. So and then the final question that I have– and we have a lot of information on our website about this, and so we’re just going to touch on that briefly because it does have to do with increased ratings is something called TDIU, so, you want to explain TDIU?

Emma: Sure, how much time do we have?

Jenna: Briefly.

Emma: All right. So TDIU told this ability based on individual unemployability is when maybe you’re through VA Math, your combined ratings and add up to 100%. But due to your disabilities you’re unable to work, you can’t—it’s not just work, you can’t get gainful employment so their service pacific standard. VA will pay you out at 100% rate. So, if during the course of an increased rating claim, you realize, “Hey, you know, I cannot work.” Certainly, bring that to the VA’s attention, they have a specific form, VA Form 8940, you have to fill out if you want to get that unemployability benefit, but then it can be attached and part of your pending increased rating claim. So something to keep in mind, you don’t have to file for it separately. It can be part of everything going on with increased rating.

Jenna: Yes. But if your disability that you’re asking for an increased rating claim definitely prevents you from working, tell VA about it.

Emma: Absolutely, absolutely be on there.

Jenna: Yes. Great. Well, thank you all for your questions. That was so wonderful.

Emma: Yes.

Jenna: Thank you, Lindy and Emma. My name is Jenna. Thank you again for joining us and we’ll see you next week.