The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, also called the Veterans Administration (VA), calculates, awards, and distributes benefits to veterans with disabilities. The VA assesses the severity of your disability using a disability rating from 0 percent to 100 percent disabled. The score goes up in 10 percent increments; in other words, you could be 30 percent or 40 percent disabled, but not 35 percent disabled.
When you have more than one disability, the VA does not merely add up the two disability ratings. They use a Combined Ratings Table and additional steps to determine the total compensation the disabled veteran will receive. A Michigan veteran’s benefits attorney can advocate for you and explain what happens if you are a veteran with multiple disabilities.
VA Disability Ratings 101
The VA will use your military records or evidence that you submit with your benefits claim to arrive at the percentage that represents your level of disability. After the VA decides on your disability rating, they can add more benefits if you lost an arm or a leg or have another extremely severe disability. The VA might pay additional amounts if you are married, have children or parents who depend on you for financial support, or your spouse is severely disabled.
Every year, you have the potential to receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). There is no guarantee of a COLA increase each year. If Social Security beneficiaries get a COLA adjustment, VA disability benefits recipients will receive the same percentage of increase.
How the VA Calculate Benefits for Veterans with Multiple Disabilities
As stated, the VA does not add up your separate disability ratings to reach a total amount. Let’s say that you have an existing disability with a 50 percent rating. You develop a second disability with a 20 percent rating. The VA does not add 50 to 20 and conclude that you are 70 percent disabled.
- Your highest level of disability will get plugged into the Combined Ratings Table first, on the left-hand column. In our scenario, we would scroll down the table to 50.
- Finding the level of the second disability, which is 20 in our fact pattern, we locate the block where the two numbers intersect. That block represents the combined value of the two disabilities. The combined value of a 50 percent and a 20 percent disability is 60.
- Step three is to round the combined number to the nearest 10 percent. A 60 percent combined disability would remain 60 percent. If you had a 62 percent combined number, the VA would round it down to 60 percent, but if you had a 65 percent disability, the VA would round that figure up to 70 percent.
- For more than two disabilities, you would repeat the process without rounding until you reach the final number. A veteran with disability ratings of 60 percent, 40 percent, and 20 percent, for example, would have a combined rating (of all three) of 81, which the VA would round to 80 percent.
Contact us today. Our Michigan VA benefits attorneys can help you navigate the VA disability benefits process and contest an unfair ruling on your behalf. We specialize strictly in disability benefits. Our attorneys and staff stay up-to-date on the regularly changing law and procedures, and we can assist you in preparing and submitting evidence, appointments and supportive documentation needed, appeals, and representation during hearings and informal conferences. Contact us today for your free consultation.