The disability rating that the VA assigns a veteran will determine the amount of compensation he or she will receive. Understanding how the VA disability calculator works, including for multiple conditions, is therefore critical. Disability Law Group is dedicated to working with veterans to make sure they receive the benefits they need and deserve. We can help you determine the amount of compensation to which you are entitled and appeal any adverse decisions made by the VA.
How Does The VA Calculate Your Compensation?
After you apply for disability benefits, the VA will review your application and supporting documentation to assign a combined disability rating. Your condition has to be service-connected, and there are specific criteria for determining that. Assuming it is, however, the VA will give a rating in ten percent increments, from 10% to 100%. The percentage is supposed to be a reflection of the severity of the disability.
The phrase “combined disability rating” sometimes trips up veterans who have more than one service-connected disability. For instance, you may have two conditions rated at 40% and 20%, and assume you can just add them up to 60%. But the VA’s calculation of your disability rating is not additive; that is, the VA doesn’t simply add percentages to each other.
So What If I Have More Than One Disability?
Your top disability rating, by law, can only be 100%. So if you have a 50% rating and a 70% rating, the combined rating is not 120%. That’s because, according to the VA, a subsequent disability rating is applied to an already disabled veteran. In essence, the VA’s calculation amounts to percentages of percentages.
Using The VA Disability Calculator Combined Ratings Table
To understand the VA’s complex procedure for determining your disability rating, you can use the Combined Ratings Table on its website. Here’s how it works:
- The VA ranks your conditions in terms of their severity, with most severe first. The ratings of the two conditions are then inputted into the Combined Ratings Table.
- There is a numerical figure where these two percentages intersect. If you have only two conditions, that number is then rounded to the nearest percentage divisible by 10.
- If you have three or more conditions, the process continues without rounding any numbers until you arrive at a final figure. This final figure is then rounded to the nearest percentage divisible by 10.
The VA uses the following example. Say a veteran has two conditions, one rated at 50% and the other at 30%. These two numbers intersect at 65% on the Combined Ratings Table, which is then rounded to 70%.
Now imagine a veteran with three conditions rated 60%, 40%, and 20%. On the table, these two values intersect at 76%. Then, the intersection of 76% and 20% is found at 81%, which is rounded to 80%.
Understandably, this calculation sounds bewildering. But the ultimate percentage assigned to you will then directly impact your monthly compensation, depending on other factors such as the number of dependents. That’s why making sure the VA gets your disability ratings correct is so important.
If you’d rather not use the VA’s table, you can calculate your disability rating the long way. But you still start off the same way by ranking your conditions in order of severity, greatest to least.
Take the above examples again:
The veteran has a 50% disability and a 30% disability.
- A 50% disability is also considered to be a 50% efficiency rating, or 50% healthy.
- Take the 50% efficiency rate and multiply it by the 30% disability rate of the second condition (in other words, 30% of 50%), and you end up with 15%.
- Now, add 15% to your 50% disability and you end up with 65%.
The veteran has disabilities of 60%, 40%, and 20%.
- A 60% disability means 40% efficiency.
- Multiply the 40% efficiency rate by the 40% disability rate of the second condition (40% of 40%), and you end up with 16%.
- Add 16% to the 60% disability rate of the first condition and you end up with 76%.
- A 76% disability is considered 24% efficient. Multiply this by the rating of the last condition, 20%, and you get 4.8%.
- Add 4.8% to 76% and you get 80.8%, which is rounded to 80%
Other Factors To Consider
Unfortunately, the above calculations are not necessarily the end of the story. Other factors could affect your rating such as:
- If you’ve lost an arm or leg
- Your disability is particularly severe
- You have a spouse, children, or parents who are dependents
- You have a seriously disabled spouse
It gets increasingly more difficult to reach 100% disability for each additional condition. However, a veteran can reach 100% disability if he or she attains individual unemployability (known as IU or TDIU). TDIU is for veterans whose service-connected conditions make them completely unable to work.
The VA has a number of other qualifications and exceptions as well. As an example, if you have too many ratings on a single arm or leg, the VA stops counting those. For many veterans, the above calculations oversimplify their situations, so it’s best to speak with an experienced veterans disability attorney to arrive at the correct calculation.
How Disability Law Group Can Help You Understand the VA Disability Calculator
To put it bluntly, VA math is not straightforward. Not to mention that an incorrect rating of one condition can throw off your overall percentage. There are also ways to arrive at 100% disability and therefore receive the maximum monthly benefits.
Our firm understands how frustrating it can be to calculate your monthly benefits. We also know the stress you may experience with an incorrect rating. We are experienced with the VA’s calculation methods, and we appeal inappropriate ratings to make sure our clients get the full compensation to which they are entitled.
Let Disability Law Group help with your VA claim. Call us today to schedule your consultation.