VA Disability Rating Decision Appeals
The VA bases the benefit payment that a disabled veteran receives each month on the veteran’s disability rating. The VA assigns this rating during the evaluation of a benefits claim. However, the VA often gets disability ratings wrong. Even when an initial decision initially seems adequate, a veteran’s condition may become worse, causing the rating to become outdated.
If you are a veteran who disagrees with your disability rating, or the symptoms associated with your disability have increased over time, you have the right to appeal the VA’s decision and pursue the benefit that you deserve. Because the appeals process can be complex and confusing, many veterans seek help from a lawyer who knows how this system works.
Berry Law Firm can provide the assistance you need. We help veterans nationwide to appeal disability ratings decisions.
How the VA Rates Your Disability
The VA pays monthly disability benefits based on the impact of a veteran’s service-connected injury or illness on the veteran’s ability to work. An evaluator approves or denies benefits based on evidence in the veteran’s claims file. This evidence primarily consists of military and medical records.
After a VA evaluator determines that a claim demonstrates service-connection for a veteran’s illness or injury, the evaluator applies medical evidence in the claim to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities. This schedule provides detailed instructions for measuring specific injuries and illnesses.
The VA breaks those impairments into 15 categories:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Organs of Special Sense
- Impairment of Auditory Acuity
- Infectious Diseases, Immune Disorders and Nutritional Deficiencies
- Respiratory System
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary System
- Gynecological Conditions and Disorders of the Breast
- Hemic and Lymphatic Systems
- Endocrine System
- Neurological Conditions and Convulsive Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Dental and Oral Conditions.
The VA evaluator focuses mainly on whether a disability affects a veteran’s ability to work. A VA evaluator must consider how the veteran’s disease or injury impairs the veteran’s civilian earning capacity.
Evaluators apply ratings in 10 percent increments, from 0% to 100%. The higher the rating, the more a veteran receives in monthly compensation. A veteran’s claim for a single disability must score a rating of at least 10% to qualify for monthly compensation. A 100% disability rating results in the highest amount of basic monthly compensation that a disabled veteran can receive.
Reaching 100% disability rating is not as simple as adding together several disability percentages. If a veteran has multiple injuries or illnesses, the VA evaluator turns to the Combined Ratings Table. The table uses a non-additive formula to calculate a combined disability rating.
For example, if a veteran’s disabilities are rated at 50%, 30%, and 20%, the combined total still only reaches 70%. Reaching 100% through combining disabilities can be difficult due to the “VA math,” but veterans can also reach 100% through Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
A veteran’s basic disability benefit may include additional compensation if the veteran:
- Suffers from severe disabilities or loss of limb(s)
- Has a spouse, child(ren) or dependent parent(s)
- Has a seriously disabled spouse.
Even when increased for dependents or other factors, the VA will always base disability compensation on the veteran’s disability rating.
Our Lawyers Can Help You to Appeal a VA Disability Rating
If your VA disability rating is not as high as it should be, Berry Law Firm can help you to get your rating reevaluated. There are four approaches to seeking a higher disability rating and, with it, more money each month. Those approaches are:
- Appeal an existing claim decision
- Reopen an existing claim
- File a new claim for a disability not identified previously
- File a secondary disability claim.
The most common approach is to appeal a claim decision made by the Regional Office or Board of Veteran’s Appeals. Appeals can be aimed at either reversing a denial of a grant or increasing a granted rating percentage that is lower than what the veteran deserves. If a denial is more than a year old, the appeal can seek to reopen an existing claim and provide new evidence, particularly if the symptoms of a disability have become more apparent, or the veteran has additional evidence or a new diagnosis. At any point, a veteran can file for additional claims for either wholly new issues or issues that have manifested as a result of a disability that the veteran has already been granted.
The veterans disability claims lawyers of Berry Law Firm have extensive experience with the VA appeals process. We can help you to navigate the process, gather helpful evidence and file a powerful appeal.
A successful appeal (or reopened claim) should include medical records that prove a veteran’s disability and fully describe how it limits the veteran’s ordinary daily activities, including his or her ability to maintain employment. Medical records should also describe the origins of the veteran’s condition, the veteran’s symptoms and the veteran’s prognosis for the future.
Berry Law Firm can identify a basis for an appeal by reviewing your existing claim and discussing your condition with you and/or your family members, caretakers and doctors. We can also obtain additional military, medical and/or employment records. We can weave all the evidence into a thoroughly prepared appeal.
If necessary, we will ask doctors, psychologists or other medical experts to review your records and/or examine you and provide us with their medical opinion. We may also ask vocational experts to appraise your ability to maintain substantial employment.
Seek a Higher VA Disability Rating Today
The VA-accredited lawyers of Berry Law Firm have obtained millions of dollars in benefits for thousands of veterans nationwide. Our lawyers fully understand the VA disability claims process and the types of evidence that are likely to maximize a veteran’s VA disability rating and the amount of back pay that a veteran receives.
A veteran’s VA disability rating dictates the amount of the veteran’s monthly benefit. A veteran might make a costly mistake if he or she accepts a rating that fails to accurately reflect the veteran’s disability and the compensation that the veteran is due. Contact Berry Law Firm today for a free review of your claim.