The Veterans Administration will assign you a disability rating based on the severity of your service-related disability. The disability rating determines what VA benefits you are eligible for and how much compensation you receive each month. This easy guide will help you determine how much you can expect when approved for VA benefits.
What is a Disability Rating?
A disability rating is how the VA determines the percentage of the severity of your injury. This percentage represents your ability to function and work. This rating is based on your medical exam, the VA claim exam (also called compensation and pension, or C&P exam), and other information from other sources like federal agencies and the Social Security Administration.
If you have more than one disability, the VA will combine your total disability percentages until they add up to 100%. In addition, if you get benefits from an injury you incurred prior to your service, the VA will calculate how much your service aggravated that injury. This is called an aggravation level. If, for example, you had a condition that caused you a 10 percent disability, and your service caused that disability to increase to 30 percent, the VA would determine that you have a 20 percent aggravation level.
A Word About Combined Ratings
If you have multiple disability ratings, the VA uses a special formula to determine your combined rating. This is not as simple as adding up each individually – there is a rating table that the VA uses to determine an overall percentage. You can use the combined rating table to determine how the VA will likely calculate your compensation based on all of your disabling conditions.
Special Conditions that Increase or Decrease Your Disability Benefits
Several conditions can either increase or decrease your benefits. These include:
- The number of dependents you have. The VA allows additional allowances based on the number of dependents you have.
- Special monthly compensation (SMC) rates are based on the degree of severity. In addition, there are additional allowances for veterans with a total disability.
- Special benefit allowance rates that allot extra funds for automobile or clothing allowances.
- Birth defects allowances if your children suffered birth defects due to your exposure to certain toxins during your service.
If you have a disability rating of 30 percent or greater and have a spouse, child, or dependent parent, you may be eligible for additional compensation. In addition, if you have a spouse with a disability, you may also be eligible for additional benefits.
Your benefits can also be decreased. You may find that you suffer a decrease in benefits if:
- You receive military pay or severance pay
- You are incarcerated for more than 60 days in a felony conviction
There are also additional benefits for surviving spouses, dependent parents, and housebound veterans.
Cost of Living Increases
By law, the Veteran’s Administration is required to offer you a cost-of-living increase that is in line with the cost-of-living increases that the Social Security Administration offers. You will get this automatically each year with no action required on your part.
Calculating Your Exact Veteran’s Administration Disability Amount
The easiest way to determine the exact amount you will receive from the VA is to use the VA disability calculator to get an exact amount. You add your disability percentage, dependents, and other demographic information to get the exact totals with this calculator. Your disability is calculated in 10 percent increments, so when you use the online tool, simply enter in the percentage of your disability to find the total amount you can expect to receive.
Getting Help with Your VA Disability Claim
Many veterans find that the VA’s claim process can be challenging to navigate, especially if they are also dealing with a physical, mental, or neurological disability. A VA attorney can assist you with filling out and submitting the proper paperwork on time.