Disability Ratings


George Smith (Service Officer)
Wednesday August 09, 2017 10:39 am

Have you ever wondered how the VA came up with the combined rating that it gave you?  Have you ever noticed that 1 + 1 does not equal 2 with the VA?  One of the most common complaints we get from veterans is ‘How in the word did the VA get the combined rating that they did with all the ratings I have?’

When it comes to service connected compensation claims, the VA takes the view that it should not add whole numbers together to get your rating but, instead, the VA takes percentages of percentages.  It is as if the VA says if you are 10% disabled then you are 90% healthy.  Therefore, the next rating is not added but is used to take a percentage of the ‘healthy’ 90%.  So for a veteran with two 10 ratings the first ten percent rating would be 10% of 100, which is 10%.  The second ten percent rating would be 10% of the 90% (again the ‘healthy’ percent of the veteran), which is 9%.  So the combined rating would be 19%.  The percentages are all rounded up or down to the nearest ten percent.  Here, the rating would be rounded to 20%.

The combined rating system doesn’t favor the veteran when he gets closer to 100%.  It gets harder and harder to get that higher rating, especially once a veteran is over 50%.  For instance, if a veteran has two ratings of 50% and two of 20% the combined rating is 80%.  So even though 50+50+20+20 equals 140 in real math; it is only 80 in VA math.  One can’t be more than 100% healthy, thus the rating system in place.

The difference that it leads to in compensation is huge.  According to the VA compensation rating table, a veteran, with no dependents, rated at 80% would receive $1,551.48 per month.  A single veteran rated at 100%, on the other hand, would receive $2,903.83 per month.  This veteran receiving a rating of 100%, which is only 20% greater than the 80% rating, gets almost 100% more money a month!

There are other factors that make the ratings change too.  For example, if a veteran has a rating on each leg or each arm then those ratings are combined together and give the overall combined rating an extra boost.  Also, if a veteran has too many ratings on one arm or leg then VA stops counting those ratings.  Further, a veteran can step up to 100% through total disability due to individual unemployability.  That veteran must show that he cannot work and that he meets a certain rating.

If you have any questions on your VA disability percentage, would like to add other issues, ask for a higher rating, or wonder how to get rated under the IU, don’t hesitate to contact your Veteran Service Officer. 

If You Served, You Earned!
George W. Smith
ALRDOC Service Officer