Military Law

Receiving a VA Disability Rating

Are you a veteran who was injured during your military service? You may be entitled to disability compensation. Veteran benefits are usually provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

If you file a claim for disability compensation, the VA may request a medical examination. The information from this examination will be used by the VA to determine whether to grant your claim. It'll also be used to determine how much compensation you're entitled to.

VA Rating Schedule

The VA has a disability guide called the Schedule for Rating Disabilities. This schedule is used to help evaluate and assess the severity of a disability. It contains a very long list of medical conditions. The schedule consists of more than 700 diagnostic codes that are organized under a variety of body systems. Examples of body systems include:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Respiratory system
  • Mental disorders

VA Disability Rating

The VA needs to determine how much money to give you for your disability. The best way to do this is to determine how much your earning capacity has been reduced by your disability. A medical examination will attempt to determine this reduction. This information is then used to create a disability rating for you.

The VA schedule provides criteria for assigning a disability rating. Your rating will be given as a percentage. It can range from 0 percent all the way to 100 percent. The greater your disability, the higher the percentage will be. This in turn will allow you to collect a larger amount of disability compensation.

The VA will look at all your exam reports. It attempts to avoid pyramiding. This means evaluating the same disability or manifestation under different diagnoses. If there's any reasonable doubt about your disability, the VA will decide in your favor. For example, if evidence exists to support either a 40 percent rating or a 60 percent rating, you'll receive a 60 percent rating based on the doctrine of reasonable doubt.

Combining VA Disability Ratings

Do you have more than one service-related disability? If you do, you'll receive a rating for each disability. The VA will then give you a single combined disability rating.

The VA doesn't just add the ratings together. It uses a specific chart to determine a single rating from two or more disabilities. Once a rating is created with the chart, the VA will round the number to the nearest multiple of 10. This number will be your combined disability rating. Your rating can never be more than 100 percent.

Amount of Disability Compensation

The amount of disability compensation you receive will mostly depend on your rating. Compensation can range from the low hundreds to a few thousand a month. You'll receive more money if you have dependents. This can include a spouse, children or parents.

You can receive additional compensation if you lost the use of specific organs or extremities. This is called special monthly compensation (SMC). The amount will depend on the number of dependents and your exact medical condition. Examples of disabilities that the VA will consider for SMC include:

  • Loss of sight
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of use of a reproductive organ
  • Loss of speech

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What are the benefits of having an attorney help me receive my benefits?
  • Am I legally required to take a medical examination in order to receive disability compensation?
  • What can I do if I disagree with the disability rating assigned to me by the VA?
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