va benefits attorney in connecticut

Understanding the VA Disability Rating System

If your veterans benefits claim is approved by the VA, you will be assigned a disability rating from 0% – 100%.  A 0% disability rating does not pay any benefits, however, by receiving a 0% disability rating the VA has recognized that your disability is service-connected.  If, in the future, the disability worsens or causes a secondary disability, then service connection is already established and you only have to provide evidence that the condition has worsened or has caused a secondary disability.

The 2014 rates are as follows:

Disability Percentage

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

Veteran Alone $131 $259 $401 $578 $822 $1,040 $1,312 $1,526 $1,714 $2,858
Veteran & Spouse     $449 $640 $901 $1,137 $1,423 $1,652 $1,857 $3,018
A/A for Spouse     $44 $59 $73 $87 $103 $117 $131 $146

 

Combined Ratings

A single rating percentage may also be a combination of a number of disabilities rated at different percentages.  For example, you may have a rating of 50% for PTSD, a rating of 10% for hearing loss, and a rating of 20% for a back injury.  This does not mean that the combined rating is the sum of the individual ratings. It’s more complicated than that.  To calculate the combined rating, you sort the percentages descending from the largest to the smallest.  If your disabilities are rated as above: 50%, 20%, 10%, you would subtract the largest percentage from 100%.  So, in this example, you would subtract 50% (the largest percentage) from 100%, leaving a yield of 50%.  This is the first number used in determining the combined rating.  The VA assumes that if you have a 50% disability rating, you have the efficiency to perform work at a 50% level.  You would then multiply the next largest percentage (20%) by the remaining efficiency (20% x 50%).  This is 10% which you add to the first disability rating (50%) and you have a 40% remaining efficiency to perform work.  Multiply the remaining efficiency of 40% by 10% for the hearing loss and you get 4%.  Now add up the numbers to get the rating: 50% + 10% + 4% = 64%. This final number is rounded down to the nearest 10th, so your benefit would be paid at the 60% rate instead of the 80% you might expect if you just add up the original individual ratings.

Note:    A claimant who has three disabilities with each rated at 10%, will receive a combined rating of 30%.  However a veteran with only two disabilities, one rated at 60% and another rated at 10% will receive only the 60% compensation rate.  The effect of combining additional ratings gives greater weight to multiple 10% ratings at the low end of the scale as opposed to an additional rating of 10% on a higher rating since the 10% is diminished by the formula above.  In a nutshell, having multiple low ratings increases the payment for a veteran whose primary diagnosis has a low rating; but it has a much smaller effect for veterans who have a single condition with a high rating.  A veteran with a 90% single disability rating with multiple 10% to 30% secondary ratings will most likely never get to 100%.

Disability compensation is intended to replace average impairment in earnings capacity. Claimants with a combined rating between 60% and 90% who are determined to be unemployable solely as a result of service-connected conditions, qualify for IU (individual unemployability). IU claimants are entitled to the same benefit payment as those rated at 100%.  Conditions that result in the veteran not being employable override the medical impairment rating.

If you have any questions regarding your Disability rating, or if you would like to consult with one of our VA Accredited attorneys about a Veterans benefits claim, contact us today at (860) 900-0900.