When you have suffered a service-related disability and have had to leave the military on an honorable discharge you are entitled to claim a VA disability benefit. How much you get depends on the VA rating table and for those just starting their civilian journey, this can seem pretty confusing. Hopefully by the end of this article things will be a lot clearer.
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What is a VA Disability Rating?
During a vet’s disability process, the rating authorities of the VA will assign every disabled veteran a disability rating. This will be presented as a percentage and it is this percentage rating that will determine how much disability benefit the vet will receive for their service-related condition/s. The percentage is used as an indication of how severe a veteran’s condition is. For example, if a veteran’s condition was serious enough for them to be unable to carry on with their military duties but they have recovered enough to the point they are no longer negatively affected they will receive a 0% rating. Whereas a veteran unable to take care of themselves or go out to work will receive a rating of 100%. There are no halves or quarters in the VA rating table, they are all rounded up to the nearest 10%; 40% 50% etc.
Ratings for Individual Conditions
Each condition that is service-connected has its own disability rating. Each of these ratings is determined using the federal regulations known as VASRD or Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities. There are certain criteria assigned to each disability, known as requirement categories, and these are used in order to make the assessment and give it the most accurate rating. For example PTSD. The requirement categories for this are;
- Intrusive Recollection
- Negative Alterations in Cognition and Mood
- Functional Significance
There is a criteria attached to each of these which the vet must meet or exceed to get their percentage rating.
Total Combined Disability Rating
Once a veteran has been fully assessed and given their disability rating for each condition these are then added together using the VA Math system which gives the vet a total combined disability rating. If they only have one disability that scores 60%, their score will stay at that. If they have multiple disabilities carrying different percentages these will be added together. This is not as straightforward as it would seem, however, as there isn’t a math system in the world like VA math! The good news is the veterans don’t have to bother themselves with this bonkers arithmetic system, it’s all done for them. The total percentage is then used to determine the amount of benefit they will receive.
Although every disability rating carries the same level of benefit, these amounts can go up depending on the veteran’s circumstances. This takes into consideration whether they are married and have dependent children. So as with all benefits, a married vet with children will get more than a single one with the same disability rating as they have a family to take care of.