Many veterans fight for years and years just to have the VA recognize that they have a disability that is related to military service. Getting a disability “service-connected” is a necessary step towards receiving VA disability compensation, but there are other important steps, as well.
After VA determines that a veteran’s condition is service-connected, it must determine how disabling the condition is. The disability must be “rated.” In rating service-connected disabilities, VA turns to its disability rating tables. The rating tables are a part of VA’s extensive set of regulations, and these tables include hundreds and hundreds of individually-listed disabilities. Each disability has its own unique “diagnostic code.” Conditions are rated from 0% (generally representing conditions that cause minimal occupational and social interference) up to 100% (generally representing conditions that cause total occupational and social interference). The amount of disability compensation a veteran receives each month is dependent on the assigned disability rating. The VA adjudicator will look at the different medical, lay, and other evidence in the claims file, determine which diagnostic code to use based on the diagnosis, and then rate the condition. Sounds simple, right?
Your VA Disability Rating Could Be Incorrect
Well, as it turns out, it’s not all that simple. Many veterans must fight with the VA to have their conditions properly rated. Part of the reason that these fights happen is because the different rating codes do not always describe, with any precision, the different symptoms that the veteran experiences. Sometimes the rating criteria is not clearly written or ambiguous (for example, some disabilities are rated based on whether the condition is “severe,” “moderately severe,” or “moderate”) and it is up to the VA adjudicator to make the call on what the terms used in the rating code mean. And other times, a veteran meets some but not all of the criteria for the higher rating, and the VA assigns a lower rating. Take, for instance, the PTSD rating code. If a veteran has some of the symptoms of a 70% rating and some of the symptoms of a 50% rating, the VA may assign the lower rating. In this case, the veteran would probably have a very valid grounds to appeal the 50% rating and ask for the 70%.
The point is that the rating process is confusing and difficult as the service-connection process. VA often rates conditions incorrectly, and veterans should never simply assume that their disabilities have been correctly rated.
Information and Assistance for the VA Disability Compensation Rating System
You can read more here about the VA disability compensation rating system. Confused? You’re not alone. We welcome you to contact us if you need assistance. There are various factors that can affect the level of compensation and different strategies our advocates can use to increase your payments.