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Once a veteran is service-connected for a disability, the VA must decide at what percentage a veteran is disabled. This is a very important part of the VA decision-making process and affects monthly payment. A veteran who receives an inadequate disability rating is receiving less compensation than he or she is entitled to receive under the law. Sometimes veterans receive incompetent medical examinations; the medical examination doesn’t dive deep enough into the veterans disability to determine whether he or she meets the criteria for a higher rating. The bottom line is that the rating assigned to a veteran’s disability is important because it determines the amount of compensation a veteran will receive for that disability.
When you consider the ratings system, it’s important to be aware that as a veteran, you should receive a specific disability rating for each individual illness or injury that you have. Another consideration the VA weighs is whether the injuries are bilateral, or affect limbs on both sides of the body (for example, disabilities on both arms, or both legs). Ensuring that every issue you face as a veteran is discussed instead of just focusing on one will hopefully ensure that the doctor considers all factors in calculating your rating.
From there, all of your disability ratings are listed in descending order so that the VA can calculate your total disability percentage. The VA does not calculate total disability ratings by simply adding percentages. It is a much more complicated system. If you are trying to calculate your own rating, it is critical to use the VA Combined Ratings Table so that you do not have to do it manually.
Here is an example of calculating your total disability rating from the combined ratings table:
Say you start with a 30% disability rating. Look at the Combined Ratings Table and scroll down the left column until you find the number 30. Then go to the right column until you find the 20. The 30 and 20 combine for 44. If those are your only two ratings, you would have a 44% Va service-connected disability rating, which would round down to 40%. But we’re not done. We still have to add two 10% ratings.
Start on the left column again. This time, you will look for the 44 in the left column. Then find the intersection point with the 44 and 10. Your new rating is 50%. Repeat this one more time, starting with 50, and meeting up with 10. Your new combined rating is 55%, which rounds up to 60%.
After calculating or receiving your disability rating, if you still feel that it was not fairly rated, you can return to the medical examinations and revisit any concerns that may have been glanced over in your initial visit. It is critical, however, to speak up if you feel that you do not have the correct rating. Because your disability rating corresponds directly with the type of coverage and benefits you get, the sooner you address the issue, the better.
If you need to appeal a rating decision that does not reflect your level of disability, please contact us. Our experienced team of veterans’ disability lawyers may be able to help.
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