How the Veteran Affairs (VA) Calculates Disability Rating
How the Veteran Affairs (VA) Calculates Disability Rating

VA disability pay is a monthly tax-free payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans who received illness or injury during military service. Veterans with existing conditions that have worsened the service may also be compensated. VA disability pay is determined by the rating of disability, the severity of the disability, and the number of dependents.

What does the VA use to decide disability rating?

Veteran Affairs (VA) disability rating is based on the following:

  • Evidence provided (like a doctor’s report or the results of a medical test)
  • The results of your VA claim exam also referred to as a compensation and pension, or C&P exam. (Note: The US Department of VA will determine if you need this exam)
  • We may obtain other information from other sources (such as federal agencies), e.g., Dependents, spouses, and so on.

Compensation rates are generally subject to an annual increase in the cost of living. The law also provides for special compensation rates for many of the listed, more severe disabilities or injuries.

Injuries such as loss of one hand or foot, blindness or severe injury to one eye, loss of speech and deafness, to name a few examples, are eligible for an increase of $96 per month per injury (maximum $4,667 per month) above the basic compensation rate. Loss of both hands, both feet, blindness in both eyes, and a permanent bedridden state gives the veteran $3,327 per month of compensation. The law also sets out several other disabilities that may be eligible for higher, specific payments. Besides, the statute allows the VA Secretary to approve higher fees for more severe disabilities, with a maximum of $4,667 per month, if necessary.

Have More Than One Disability?

The “whole person theory” method is used to determine what is called the combined disability rating. This is done to make sure that the overall VA disability rating does not add up to more than 100%. That’s because a person can’t be more than 100% non-disabled. If you have multiple disability ratings, the full combined rating table can be used to calculate your combined VA disability rating. 

The ratings are assigned in 10% increments, ranging from 10% to 100% disabled. Calculating your combined disability rating involves more than adding your individual ratings. That’s why your combined rating might be different from the sum of your ratings. Here’s how to use the rating table. Note: Some individuals believe that the table is not used in the real sense of it.

When a veteran has more than one illness or disability, disability ratings are not only added together (for example, a 40% disability rating plus a 20% disability rating does not equal a total 60 percent disability rating). Instead, a formula is used to determine the overall disability rating for multiple disabilities. First, disabilities are ranked from the most severe to the least severe. Then, what percentage of efficiency the veteran retains after the first, most severe disability is determined. For example, if the veteran’s most severe disability is rated at 40%, he is still 60% efficient. After that, the second most serious disability is considered. The second disability rating is applied to the remaining efficiency of the veteran. For example, if the veteran has a residual 60% efficiency after the first disability, and his second most severe disability has a 20% disability rating, 20% of the 60% efficiency is calculated – in this case, 12%. This figure is added to the initial disability rating (40% plus 12% is equal to 52% disability). The new disability rating is rounded up or down to the nearest 10% increase. In the example above, the 52% rating would be rounded down to a 50% disability rating. That veteran would be considered to be 50% disabled.

How do ratings work for a disability a veteran had before entering the service and got worse because of military service?

If you receive disability benefits for a pre-service disability, we base your monthly allowance on the level of aggravation. The level of difficulty means how much worse your pre-service disability has gotten because of your military service. For example, if you had an injury or a condition that was rated as 10% disabling when you entered the army and became 20% disabling due to the effects of your service, the level of aggravation would be 10%. 

A comprehensive list of the conditions can be found here.

You can also calculate your disability rating with a VA disability calculator.


How Do Disability Ratings Work for Veterans Benefits ….  Retrieved 16 June 2020 Retrieved on 15 June 2020 Retrieved on 15 June 2020 Retrieved on 15 June 2020 Retrieved on 15 June 2020 Retrieved on 15 June 2020 Retrieved on 15 June 2020

VA Disability claims – Page 3 – Retrieved 16 June 2020

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