When a veteran applies for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, also known as the VA, they are assigned something known as a “disability rating.” This rating is an essential part of determining what kinds of benefits a veteran will receive. But what is this disability rating, and how does the VA decide what your rating is?
The Disability Rating, Defined
The VA disability rating is a representation of how severe the VA considers a veteran’s disability to be. This is expressed as a rating with a minimum of 0% (for those who have no disability associated with their service) to 100% (for someone who is completely disabled as a result of service-related disabilities). As a general rule, the higher a veteran’s rating is, the more severe their condition is. However, it should be noted that medical conditions unrelated to a person’s military service are not counted towards their rating.
How the Disability Rating Is Determined
The VA determines a veteran’s disability rating by examining the medical evidence of a veteran’s physical and psychological conditions. Each condition they are diagnosed with that is related to their service increases the veteran’s disability rating by a certain percentage amount. The extent to which their rating increases is dependent on the severity of their condition or conditions, and the extent to which it impairs their ability to function in daily life.
The Effects of Your Rating
Generally speaking, the higher your rating is, the greater the benefits you will receive from the VA. In addition, certain benefits are only available to veterans who have above a certain rating. For example, veterans who are considered to be 30% disabled or more have their benefits adjusted if they have a spouse, children, or other dependents, while veterans with 20% or less do not receive that same adjustment. Thus, it is generally better to have a higher rating, when possible.
Adjusting Your Disability Rating
Your rating is not set in stone the moment it is awarded to you. It can potentially be adjusted over time if your condition worsens, or if new evidence about your condition comes to light. When that happens, though, you will want the assistance of a lawyer with experience handling VA disability matters, who can advise you on your next best steps. The sooner you speak to a lawyer, the sooner they can get to work on getting you the benefits you deserve.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.