One of the most confusing aspects of filing for service-connected disability compensation is figuring out how the Department of Veterans Affairs establishes a rating. Below we will show you how VA calculates disability ratings so you can be better informed when discussing and making decisions about your claim.

How does VA decide a rating?

If VA rates a single condition, your rating is the rating for that single condition, but most veterans are rated for multiple conditions. This rating for multiple conditions is called a “combined” rating.

One of the major misconceptions is that combined simply means added together, which is not true as the VA uses what is known as a combined ratings table. This means that a person’s efficiency is determined first by the most disabling—or highest individually rated condition—and then by less disabling conditions ranked in order of severity.

A veteran may receive a letter from VA notifying them that they have two service-connected disabilities, TBI and a back injury, rated at 50% each. Normally, 50% plus 50% would equal 100%, but this veteran’s total disability rating is listed as 80%.

This is how the combined ratings table works.

In this case, the VA takes 100 (representing a whole efficient person) and subtracts the highest individually rated condition (TBI at 50%). This means the veteran is initially considered 50% disabled and 50% efficient.

100% whole efficient person – 50% = 50%

The veteran’s back injury is also rated at 50%, but no longer at 50% of the whole efficient person. Instead, the back injury rating is subtracted from the remaining efficient person.

50% remaining efficient person – 50% = 25%

So only 25% (for the back injury) is added to the first 50% (for the TBI).

50% (TBI) + 25% (back injury) = 75% combined disability rating

VA rounds the combined disability rating up to the nearest 10, so 75% becomes 80% total disability.

For additional information on how VA rates disability claims, you can visit their benefits site here.


Click here to view video.