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VA Disability Ratings & Compensation

If you suffer from a physical or mental condition due to your time in the military or have a pre-existing condition that worsened due to your service, you may qualify for VA disability compensation. Learn more about VA disability ratings and compensation.

Page Last Updated
March 28, 2023

Military service can bring about many types of physical and mental ailments. If you’re a veteran, you deserve to receive financial assistance if your service-connected condition developed during or after your service or if your pre-existing condition worsened as a result of your time in the military.

Understanding how VA disability compensation and the rating system works is the first step in determining whether you qualify. Do not hesitate to apply for VA disability compensation if you meet the eligibility requirements.

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    Understanding VA Disability Compensation

    VA disability compensation offers veterans monthly payments if they suffer an illness or injury from their time in service. Certain conditions qualify veterans to receive such monetary assistance, including physical and mental health conditions. 

    To receive disability pay, you’ll need to apply. The amount you can expect to receive monthly depends on certain factors, including your condition and your assigned disability rating.

    Eligibility for VA Disability

    The VA has certain eligibility criteria. To apply for disability pay, you must first qualify.

    To be eligible to apply for VA disability compensation, both of the following must be true:

    • You served in the military, either on active duty, active duty while training, or inactive duty training
    • You currently suffer from a condition, whether an illness or injury, that affects your body or mind

    Additionally, one or more of the following must also be true:

    • You got sick or injured during your time in the military
    • You had the illness or injury before joining the military, and serving made it worsen
    • You have an illness or injury related to your service that did not appear until after your time in the military concluded

    When applying for VA disability, you’ll have to provide proof of your physical or mental condition and its connection to your time in the military.

    Conditions Covered by VA Disability

    The full list of conditions the VA considers eligible for benefits is extensive. The list includes the following:

    If you suffer from a qualifying injury or illness that developed during or after your service, or your condition worsened as a result of your time in the military, consider applying for VA disability compensation.

    What is a VA disability rating?

    When you apply for VA disability pay, you’ll soon become familiar with the VA’s disability rating system.

    The VA assigns a rating based on your disability and how severe it is. The rating is a percentage that represents how much your disability decreases your health, quality of life, and ability to function normally.

    The disability rating is critical to your compensation, as it dictates how much you will receive in monthly disability payments.

    How does the VA assign disability rating percentages?

    Once you submit your completed application for disability compensation, the VA thoroughly examines certain factors to ultimately decide your disability rating. These factors include the following:

    • Your injury or illness
    • The severity of your condition
    • The medical records and evidence provided in your application

    If you have more than one disability, the VA uses the “whole person theory” to determine your combined disability rating. The VA uses a chart to “add” your disability ratings in a way that doesn’t equate to more than 100%, as a person cannot be more than 100% disabled.

    Your condition may have existed when you entered the military but worsened as a result of your service. In that case, the VA bases your rating and monthly compensation on the level of aggravation. The level of aggravation indicates how much worse your condition became because of your time in the military.

    For example, if you entered the military with a disability that would be rated a 10% and it later became 40% due to your service, the level of aggravation would be 30%.

    How much can I expect to receive monthly for my disability rating?

    The VA uses a disability compensation rate chart to determine how much a veteran can receive for their disability. The VA bases the monthly payment amount on your disability rating as well as details regarding spouses, parents, or dependent family members.

    For example, if a veteran is 50% disabled and has no dependents, they can expect to receive $958.44 a month. If the veteran has a spouse, this amount goes up to $1050,44. The monthly payment can change if the veteran has dependent children or parents as well.

    You may be eligible for increased payments if one or more of the following are true:

    • You suffer from a severe disability or have lost a limb
    • You have a dependent parent, spouse, or child, and your combined disability rating is 30% or higher
    • Your spouse suffers from a serious disability

    Additionally, certain circumstances may decrease the amount of your disability pay, such as:

    • You receive other financial aid, like military retirement pay, separation pay, or disability severance pay
    • You are incarcerated in a state or federal prison for 60 days or longer for a felony conviction

    Many factors play a role in determining how much you can expect to receive monthly from your VA disability compensation.

    Can I appeal my disability rating?

    Yes, if you don’t agree with the disability rating you receive, you can submit an appeal with the VA.

    Beginning in 2019, the VA now offers three different decision review options: supplemental claim, higher-level review, and board appeal.

    When you file a supplemental claim, you submit new evidence and documentation regarding the disability you had previously applied for. Once submitted, a reviewer from the VA will examine the new information and determine whether it changes their disability rating decision.

    While you can file a supplemental claim, it is best to do so within a year of the date you receive your decision letter. It then takes an average of 125 days for the VA to complete the supplemental claim. 

    Next, if you disagree with the VA’s decision, you can file a request for a higher-level review. When you file this request, a senior reviewer reviews your case to determine whether to change the decision based on their opinion or an error. 

    You can file a higher-level claim review either for your initial claim or a supplemental claim decision within one year of the date of the decision letter.

    Finally, you may decide to file a board appeal. When you file a board appeal, you are appealing to a veterans law judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The judge, who is an expert in veterans law, reviews your case to determine whether there can be a change of decision. 

    You can file a board appeal on your initial claim, a supplemental claim, or a higher-level review, and you have one year to do so.

    Apply for VA Disability Compensation Today

    If you served in the military and now suffer from a physical or mental condition, consider applying for VA disability compensation. The monthly monetary help can significantly impact your life and financial stability.

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