Introduction To Disability Ratings

The way that VA rates disabilities is complex. This will require time and work by you if you want to understand how the system works for you and against you.Nobody will do this for you.  We can try to make these concepts simpler to understand but you have to do the labor.

This page is only an introduction. We will offer a few examples for you as well as point out some of the major items that can affect your rating. The rest is up to you.

Ultimately, you’ll have to go to The Schedule For Rating Disabilities. The Schedule is a huge document.  “The Schedule” is how VA matches up your condition with the rating % that will be assigned to you for each disabling condition. Not every condition is listed.

If you’ll spend some time on this page with us before you click the link to go to The Schedule, you’ll discover that you will have an easier time navigating through it to find what you need.

If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to write to us directly.

VA calls every disease, illness or injury a “Condition”. You must use the correct terminology when you work with the VA. It is important that you understand the name and nature of any condition that you are filing a claim for. Taking your time to carefully name the condition you want to claim will help to win your claim.To be awarded a disability rating, the condition must be specific. You need a name such as Prostate Cancer or Rotator Cuff Tear. If you say “Urinary Problem” or “painful Shoulder”, it may slow the process down. Then you need to connect the condition to your military service. Finally, you must show why the condition has disabled you.

In the simplest terms possible, the VA rates each disabling condition according to a published schedule. The schedule attempts to define how every disabling condition will affect the veteran as he or she works and attempts to earn a living.

The schedule was developed in the 1940’s and at the time America was largely based on a farming and manufacturing economy. A man who lost an arm in battle was less likely to be able to earn a comparable wage when compared to a man who had both arms intact.

The schedule compensated that veteran for the loss of the arm. Of course today our society has changed but the VA method of rating a disability has not. There is no consideration given to the quality of life after a disabling condition.

You must carefully match your symptoms to those that you’ll find as you study the information presented on this page. This is the way you’ll eventually achieve the rating that you earned with your honorable military service.

This is a very busy page and will require that you spend a lot of time learning how to seek the rating that is exactly appropriate for your disability. Nobody will do this for you. Nobody cares about your claim the way you do.

Simply put, The Schedule lists diseases, injuries, and other physical and mental conditions that may adversely affect the life of a veteran. Those conditions are listed in groups according to major body functions such as bones and joints, gastrointestinal, skin, neurological and so on.

In each group are a listing of many (not all) conditions that might be called disabling or that may have a disabling effect on the veteran. For example, under the group topic of skin you may find things like scars, diseases of the skin and so on.

When you drill down into the topic of scars, you’ll find that some small scars are rated as 10% disabling. Scars may be painful and cause a disability for the veteran.

This is particularly important to the veteran who wishes to have an increase in a current rating. The example of scars is a good one. If you have a scar rated at 10% and you believe that it should be rated at 30%, you turn to The Schedule.

Then you find the section that tells you about how scars are rated. Is it a burn scar or another type of scar?

Does your scar rise to the level of a 30% rating? If it does, when you write to your VARO to apply for an increase, you will tell the VA exactly why you believe your scar is equal to the rating you find in The Schedule.

Veterans should never waste time applying for an increase unless they know exactly what they deserve according to the rules of The Schedule.

How VA Determines the Disability Rating

When they find disabilities to be service connected, they assign a disability rating.  That rating can be changed if there are changes in your condition.  Depending on the disability involved, we will assign a rating from 0% to as much as 100%.  VA uses the schedule for evaluating disabilities that is published as title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4–as stated above. In rare cases they can assign a disability level other than the levels found in the schedule for a specific condition if your impairment is not adequately covered by the schedule.

If your claim is granted, the beginning date of your entitlement or increased entitlement to benefits will generally be based on the following factors:

  • When they received your claim or
  • When the evidence shows a level of disability that supports a certain rating under the rating schedule or other applicable standards

If VA received your claim within one year of your separation from the military, entitlement will be from the day following your date of separation.

Why the % amounts don’t add up–VA Combined Ratings Table

This is why your multiple ratings don’t add up.

If you can read the paragraph below and you understand it, you’re way ahead of the game.

§4.25 Combined ratings table.

Table I, Combined Ratings Table, results from the consideration of the efficiency of the individual as affected first by the most disabling condition, then by the less disabling condition, then by other less disabling conditions, if any, in the order of severity. Thus, a person having a 60 percent disability is considered 40 percent efficient. Proceeding from this 40 percent efficiency, the effect of a further 30 percent disability is to leave only 70 percent of the efficiency remaining after consideration of the first disability, or 28 percent efficiency altogether. The individual is thus 72 percent disabled, as shown in table I opposite 60 percent and under 30 percent.

That paragraph is your introduction to why 10% + 20% + 20 + 30% don’t add up to 80%.

Practice makes perfect. Try it again and again. Then you can entertain your friends with your mastery of the CRT!