The rules and regulations surrounding VA disability benefits can be complicated to say the least. Disability payments preclude existing conditions to a serious degree and are limited to conditions that are deemed to have been caused by your actions and responsibilities in the service. Ideally, all of this is made easy through a simple percentile system that rates your disability on a scale of 0 to 100 and pays out a percentage of the maximum disability insurance that can be allocated. But things can get more complicated from there, and complicated disabilities can really make things complicated. Here’s a simple understanding of how you can estimate your rating.
Calculate Individual Disabilities
The VA takes a whole-body approach to disability, meaning that someone can’t be more than 100% fully abled. By the same token, you can’t be more than 100% disabled. What makes things confusing is how complicated many disabilities can be. War injuries can often affect multiple parts of the body, and things get really tangled when you start taking into consideration psychological and emotional issues like PTSD. For that reason, the VA rates each part of your body individually. A distinct rating is assigned for each of your limbs as well as your head, your brain, your spine, and your skin.
It’s the accrued sum of these various conditions that determine how much you’ll receive. To keep things simple, the VA rounds the results up. All disability payments will be measured in percentages that are multiples of 10, though the math it takes to get there can get a bit tangled and complicated. Adding to those complicated variables is the important question of how complicated conditions can be broken down into discrete numerical values.
Always Discount Disabilities Unrelated to Your Service
Unfortunately, the disability rates the VA offers only apply to disabilities that came as a direct result of your time in the armed services. If you had an existing disability before entering the service or acquired an injury or condition unrelated to the military, it won’t count. You won’t be deemed ineligible, but those disabilities won’t count towards your rating – and in cases where you’re approaching full disability, they could actually negatively affect the payout you get.
Make Sure to Add in Any Dependents
If you claim dependent children or parents on your tax returns, you might be due extra compensation from the VA. The additional money offered for dependents isn’t significant when compared to a monthly disability payment, but every little bit can help. Veterans may also be able to receive additional compensation if they have a spouse with major disabilities. That’s true even if your partner hasn’t served in the armed forces.
Understanding What You’re Owed
As for how the VA calculates your personal disability, the rules are about as bureaucratic as you could expect, but that also means that it tends to be strict and formulaic. Conditions are then separated into a number of different categories and assigned ratings that can then be coming together for an overall rating in that category. In practical terms, you might need to provide documentation to prove your disability. This will often take the form of medical records or testaments from your physician.
If you’re due compensation for your disability, you owe it to yourself to go through the process the right way. While the process for disability payments is highly codified, they can also be highly confusing. Make sure to make use of a VA disability calculator, and don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals if you have questions about VA disability rates.