If you’re a Veteran who receives disability benefits, you probably already know about VA ratings. However, there are schedular VA ratings and VA extra-schedular ratings, both of which can affect your overall disability compensation.
Unsure of the differences between the rating types or whether you qualify for an extra-schedular rating? Read on for more information.
According to VA regulations, a schedular rating is any rating awarded under the standard diagnostic codes used to determine disabled Veterans’ compensation levels.
For instance, if someone has a 10 percent disability rating under the VA’s Schedule of Veteran’s Disability Ratings, they will receive the 10% benefits package in terms of monthly compensation funds.
An“extra-schedular rating is an additional rating or evaluation awarded outside the traditional rating schedule. A Veteran may only receive an extra-schedular rating if they have an unusual manifestation of a specific condition or symptom and that condition causes or aggravates their underlying disability to interfere with their employment more than normal.
For example, if you have joint problems in both hands because of your military service, you may have a 20% disability rating.
However, suppose your joint disability causes or aggravates extra pain or discomfort such that you cannot use your hands as expected. In that case, you may qualify for an extra-schedular rating of 30% or more, depending on your symptoms’ severity.
An extra-schedular rating may allow a disabled Veteran to acquire additional monthly compensation to pay for medical bills, ongoing expenses, and lost income from being unable to work.
However, determining entitlement for an extra-schedular evaluation can be tricky, even if you have more than one service-connected disability and other related factors.
The determination of whether an extra-schedular rating is necessary includes three steps:
According to 38 C.F.R., Application of the Regular Schedular Standards, you’ll need to submit to a Compensation and Pension Service exam or submit an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Then, you’ll need to meet the extra-schedular rating criteria (as opposed to the schedular criteria) to be considered.
This can take quite a while and affect your disability picture. Get started as a claimant at your regional office or online with the Department of Veterans Affairs app, “Vet.App.”
Of course, extra-schedular ratings are far from normal. They are only given to Veterans whose conditions or disabilities notably impact them more than what is expected by the VA.
To qualify for an extra-schedular rating and an overall increase in your disability rating, you must:
This can be much easier said than done. However, you can usually prove that you qualify for an extra-schedular rating if you gather applicable evidence. Sufficient evidence usually includes:
Note that you only qualify for an extra-schedular rating if your disability specifically impacts your ability to work. If your symptoms are greater than average but don’t impact your ability to work, you will not qualify for an extra-schedular rating. This additional benefit is intended for Veterans with limited or nonexistent working abilities.
Gainful employment changes with each year, so whether your disability is an exceptional case or may affect your extra-schedular basis benefits can vary as well. Speak to attorneys to see if you can get a higher rating for your rating decision or qualify for extra-schedular TDIU.
If your extra symptoms are due to non-military causes, they may not qualify you for an extra-schedular rating, too.
For example, if you have joint pain and a disability rating of 20% because of your time in the military, but you get into a car accident and break your wrists, you won’t receive extra-schedular consideration.
The event that exacerbated your symptoms and prevented you from working was not caused or aggravated by your military service. It likely would have led to a disability regardless of whether you served in the military.
In other words, you’ll only qualify for an extra-schedular rating for your disability if that disability and its exaggerated or worse-than-average symptoms directly result from your military service. This is the same as whenever you get VA disability benefits. The VA and the Board of Veterans Appeals consider only a Veteran’s service-connected symptoms.
There’s no difference in terms of compensation for schedular and extra-schedular ratings. In other words, if you have a 20% schedular rating, you’ll receive $327.09 per month if you are single with no dependents. This is also true if you have a 20% extra-schedular rating.
The extra-schedular rating system adds more of a percentage to your existing disability rating. For instance, if you already have a 20% disability rating but receive an extra-schedular of 10%, you’ll have a combined disability rating of 30%, leading to a monthly payment of $508.05.
Not exactly. Don’t think of extra-schedular compensation as anything truly “extra” – it adds to your existing disability total but is not a separate compensation category like total disability individual unemployability (TDIU). This works similarly to if you were to have multiple disabilities.
The VA adds up your disability rating for multiple disabilities or injuries, then comes up with a combined total to determine how much money you receive each month.
In short, to prove that you qualify for an extra-schedular rating, you and your attorney must prove a medical nexus that is unambiguous between a specific event or incident in your military service and the current diagnosis of your condition. Examples include combat missions, training exercises, or accidents during your work.
This is similar to what you have to prove to receive VA benefits in the first place. But to qualify for an extra-schedular rating, you must additionally supply extra-medical evidence showing that your disability affects you differently (and worse) than others with the same condition. This evidence must be as objective as possible.
For example, you cannot simply subjectively say that your PTSD affects you worse than other Veterans. You have to show that your PTSD affects you worse than expected at your current disability rating.
TDIU is a special disability status awarded to Veterans with a disability rating of 60% or higher for one disability or 70% or higher for two combined disabilities. TDIU is an additional monthly compensation award that Veterans receive in addition to their standard disability benefits.
In essence, TDIU allows a Veteran to collect disability benefits at the 100% rating level even if their disabilities do not technically reach 100%.
Normally, extra-schedular ratings don’t apply to individual ratings – they only apply to a Veteran’s combined disability total. Because of this, your extra-schedular ratings may contribute to your total disability rating, thus qualifying you for a TDIU claim.
An extra-schedular rating could help you acquire more monthly compensation than you would normally receive. You must qualify for an extra-schedular rating first, then apply separately for TDIU. You don’t automatically qualify for TDIU or receive it as part of your monthly benefits by default.
Veterans law attorneys can help you file a claim for TDIU to ensure you acquire as much compensation as possible.
If you’ve already been denied TDIU because your disability rating was not high enough, and you receive an extra-schedular rating, you can reapply for TDIU. Again, Veterans law lawyers can assist with this process.
Many Veterans may have eligibility for an extra-schedular rating without knowing it. An extra-schedular rating could increase your overall disability rating and the compensation you receive each month and give you access to additional services and benefits for you and your family.
At Berry Law, we can help you determine whether you qualify for an extra-schedular rating and how that rating may affect your overall disability compensation. Furthermore, we can help you apply for an extra-schedular rating or appeal a previous VA decision. Contact us today for more information and a free consultation.
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