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.
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