Beyond Medical Evidence What Can You Do To Improve Your Va Ratings
You want the VA to understand the nature and severity of your impairments, and how your disability hinders your ability to care for yourself, work independently, and your quality of life.
There are several ways to present compelling evidence that supports a higher rating, including:
- Your personal account of your disabling conditions and how they affect you every day. The VA examiner needs your detailed perspective that portrays your inability to work and earn a gainful living.
- Family and friends who are close to you can often provide invaluable points of view that bolster and add to your account.
- VA Buddy Letter a credible, well-written VA buddy statement can be of great help towards gaining top VA ratings. This could be someone who knew you well prior to service and has firsthand knowledge of how physically or mentally you have changed from pre-service to post-service. A buddy statement can also be from a fellow service member that can help tell your story with further specific information to support your claim.
- Past and present co-workers and employers may share helpful insights into the ways your disability affects your ability to function both physically and/or mentally.
What You Need To Know About Va Combined Disability Ratings
In cases where the VA must rate a veteran for more than one medical issue, the VA uses a combined ratings table to determine the final percentage.
The VA points out that its disability system is not additive, which the VA official site explains means that if a Veteran has one disability rated 60% and a second disability 20%, the combined rating is not 80%. This is because subsequent disability ratings are applied to an already disabled Veteran, so the 20% disability is applied to a Veteran who is already 60% disabled.
The VA Combined Ratings Table is a tool used by the VA to make the combined rating determination. The table is lengthy and requires each disability to be listed in order of severity and the VA rater follows a procedure using the ratings matched with the table to arrive at the accurate combined disability percentage. The VA official site offers an example of how this calculation is made:
- A veteran is rated with a 50% disability and is also rated with a different medical condition at 30%
- According to VA calculations, the combined value will be found to be 65 percent, BUT
- The 65 percent must be converted to 70 percent to represent the final degree of disability
- In a different example on the VA official site, a veteran rated with two disabilities at 40% and 20% requires a calculation to arrive at the combined value of 52%
- The 52% must be converted to the nearest degree divisible by 10, which is 50%.
Compensation And Pension Exams For Ptsd
The above background is important because the veteran will be asked to attend a C& P evaluation to decide whether you have a valid diagnosis of PTSD.
VA requires that your PTSD diagnosis is made by a health professional who is specifically qualified to diagnose PTSD in a veterans case. These examiners will be board-certified or board-eligible psychiatrists or licensed doctorate-level psychologists, or other credentialed or qualified mental health professionals acting under the close supervision of a board-certified or board-eligible psychiatrist or licensed doctorate-level psychologist.
The long and short of it is, if you file a PTSD claim for disabilityeven if you already have an outside doctors diagnosis of PTSDthe VA will likely require you undergo the C& P exam for PTSD. The examiner will be trained and proficient in the DSM-5 diagnostic requirements and evaluation methods for PTSD.
Lets look at the DSM-5 guidelines for PTSD.
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Priority Group 1 For Health Care
When you sign up for VA health care, you will be assigned a priority group. These priority groups are numbered 1 through 8 and each group is used to help make sure that veterans who need to be seen right away, will be able to be signed up quickly. Each priority group can affect each veteran differently. The priority group you are assigned to may affect how soon you are signed up for health care and how much you will need to pay for the cost of your care.
Veterans who are already service connected, are assigned the highest priority. You may be assigned to Priority Group 1 if you have been rated at 50 percent combined rating or more or have a service-connected disability that they have concluded makes you unemployable or have received the Medal of Honor .
As a veteran who is rated at the 100 percent rate, it is likely, you will be assigned to Priority Group 1 for VA health care purposes. To learn more about the different priority groups and who you can contact if you have any questions, please click this link.
What To Do When Applying For Va Compensation For Service
It is best to apply for VA compensation before your final out-processing appointment, but this is not always possible. In any case, service members will need to supply copies of discharge paperwork such as the DD Form 214 for active duty military members, medical records, supporting documentation for the medical claim, and a completed VA Form 21-526.
Depending on the type of claim you are making, it may be necessary to get supporting evidence that shows how your condition affects your ability to work, socialize, pursue hobbies, etc. This may come in the form of medical records, but also personal statements from yourself, family, co-workers, etc.
You may also need to show how your condition has worsened over time. All medical records pertinent to the condition, and even those that are not, should be submitted as evidence.
Keep in mind that your family status may play a role in how the VA approaches your compensation claim. If you are awarded a VA disability rating of 30% or higher, changes in your family status may result in changes to your payments.
Never pass up the opportunity to get additional consideration for your condition, especially if you are entitled to more from the VA as a result of having a family.
You will be required to notify the Department of Veterans Affairs in such cases changes to your claim or payments of the claim in these circumstances are never automatic.
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Va Disability Ratings: Subject To Review And Not Always Permanent
The Department of Veterans Affairs reserves the right to change VA disability rating schedules, screening requirements, and even revisit the VA award itself to see if the condition has improved or gotten worse over time.
In some cases you may get a letter from the VA instructing you to participate in a re-examination of your claim in others the veteran herself may wish to have the claim reviewed. This is especially true in cases where the veteran feels the condition is not improving or getting worse.
Do not skip the re-examination process. Doing so may subject you to a more arbitrary decision from the VA.
Social Vs Occupational Factors
Sometimes, the Veterans medical records and claims file focused on social factors instead of occupational factors. This can have a large impact on the rating you receive for your PTSD. What are social and occupation factors?
- Social factors include family relationships and interactions with friends and peers
- Occupational factors as the name suggests, encompasses challenges faced at work and on the job
When submitting an appeal, its important to focus on both social and occupational factors as both are important when determining your disability rating. By submitting additional evidence about how your PTSD impacts your job, you have a better chance of increasing your PTSD rating.
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Evidence Requirements For Tdiu
- Evidence of at least one service-connected disability AND
- Evidence that the service-connected disability or disabilities are sufficient, without regard to other factors, to prevent performing the mental and/or physical tasks required to get or keep substantially gainful employment AND
- One disability ratable at 60% or more, OR
- If more than one disability exists, one disability is ratable at 40% or more with a combined rating of 70% or more.
The VA website on TDIU gives two examples of situations where TDIU is appropriate. Before you read the examples, however, it is important to note that the VA disability rating system is not additive, which means if a veteran has two disability ratings, one at the 60% level and one at the 10% level, their combined rating is not 70%. According to the VAs Combined Ratings Table, the combined rating would actually be 64%.
A Veteran has a service-connected heart condition evaluated as 60% disabling. She has been able to work without difficulty until last year when she began to experience chest pain with any exertion. Her physician recommended that she retire as soon as possible. She subsequently filed a claim for increased disability compensation. Evidence regarding the Veterans work history and education was reviewed by the Rating Team. As it confirmed the Veteran was individually unemployable due to her service-connected disability, entitlement to compensation at the rate payable to a 100% disabled Veteran was granted.
For Residence Homesteads Owned By Veterans Or Surviving Family:
These guidelines are set forth by the State Comptroller, but are administered by each County Appraisal District.Administration of rules and can vary considerably by county.
All Ages- up to two exemptions to claim on Residence Homestead:
Up to three exemptions to claim on Residence Homestead:
Residence Homestead: “Residence homestead” means a structure or a separately secured and occupied portion of a structure that: is owned by one or more individuals, either directly or through a beneficial interest in a qualifying trust is designed or adapted for human residence is used as a residence and is occupied as the individual’s principal residence by an owner, by an owner’s surviving spouse who has a life estate in the property, or, for property owned through a beneficial interest in a qualifying trust, by a trustor or beneficiary of the trust who qualifies for the exemption.
All Ages, Residence Homestead Only
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Are 100% Va Ratings Permanent
Importantly, a 100 percent disability rating is not automatically permanent however, there are certain situations in which a 100 percent rating is granted permanent status. For example, if a 100 percent disability rating is in place for 20 years or more, VA is not going to reduce that rating unless there is evidence of fraud in the initial rating being assigned. If it is less than 20 years, VA can pursue a rating reduction, but there needs to be both material improvement and improvement under ordinary conditions. VA cannot rely on a simple examination showing improvement when issuing a rating reduction.
How To Apply For Educational Benefits
Check with the VA before you begin your program to make sure that your educational program is approved and eligible for reimbursement. Call the VA Regional Office in the state where you will be attending your program.
Complete the Dependents’ Application for VA Education Benefits and submit it to the VA Regional Office in the state where you plan to attend school or training. If you are already in school, you will also have to ask the school or job to complete and an Enrollment Certification form. Submit the Enrollment Certification along with your application.
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Should I Really Be Receiving A 100 Percent Rating
Heres one of the biggest secrets in VA law: many veterans with a 90% rating should actually be receiving a 100% VA disability rating. The VA may have incorrectly rated many veterans with a 90% rating. Did you know the difference between a 90% rating and a 100% rating is over $1,000 a month?
Veterans that are rated 90 percent may consider submitting a new application or appealing their rating decision. The difference between 90% and 100% disability ratings is over $1,000 a month. However, you should only re-apply or appeal if you truly deserve the increase in VA disability ratings.
Woods & Woods veteran disability attorney discusses the benefits that come with a 100% VA rating:
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Contact Our Savannah Veterans Disability Lawyers Now
The veterans disability attorneys at The Nye Law Group can help manage every aspect of your disability claim to help ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our team of lawyers today. We work on contingency, so you will owe legal fees only if we are able to recover compensation.
Call or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today to set up your free consultation.
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Working With A 100% Va Rating
Veterans who have a 100% VA Disability Rating have many questions when it comes to employment. In most cases, Veterans receiving VA disability compensation can still work. However, there are a few exceptions that Veterans must know. The short answer- it depends on how you have reached your 100% rating. Are you getting a 100% schedular rating? Are you getting 100% unemployability ? Read on for a breakdown.
Get Help Winning A 100% Disability Rating
As you can see, the criteria to receive a 100% disability rating from the VA is complex and confusing. Even if you think you have a strong case, the VA might argue otherwise. Once the VA makes a decision, it is tough to appeal and get a reversal.
That is why you need a top VA disability lawyer to fight for your benefits. The attorneys at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD have a strong track record getting our clients VA disability. We know how to fight cases the VA, and we can put our tools and resources to work for you.
We offer a free consultation during which you can speak to someone in our office about your situation. We may be able to help. Ready to get started? Call our office today: .
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Dental Care Benefits For 100 Percent Disabled Veterans
If you qualify for VA dental care benefits , you may be able to get some or all of your dental care through VA. The eligibility for outpatient dental care is somewhat different from the eligibility requirements for most other VA medical benefits. Specifically, eligibility for VA dental care is categorized into classes. The class you are in determines the benefits you will receive.
Veterans with 100 percent disability ratings are categorized into Class IV. Importantly, these veterans are eligible for any needed dental care, such as scheduled cleanings and X-rays. It also includes restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures. Any oral surgeries that you might require, such as tooth extractions, root canals, and reconstructive surgeries due to trauma or serious illness are covered as well. However, these dental benefits are not afforded to those veterans with only a temporary total rating.
Are There State Benefits Available
There are multiple state benefits available to 100 percent disabled veterans. Each state has its own set of benefits and can range from health care benefits, hunting and fishing license exemptions, free passes to state parks and property tax exemption. You can also be eligible for specialized license plates.
For more specific information on the benefits available in your state and enrollment details, please click here.
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How Va Assigns A Disability Rating
VA assigns a disability rating based on the frequency, duration, and severity of symptoms it uses to characterize a certain condition.
A veterans service-connected condition must have a combined disability rating of at least 10 percent for the veteran to qualify for VA monthly compensation. The highest scheduler disability rating VA can assign to a veterans condition is 100 percent, which yields the highest amount of monthly disability compensation.
Calculating Multiple Va Disability Ratings
Multiple disability ratings are a little tricky to calculate and are beyond the scope of this article. But well give a brief overview. In short, the VA uses a special method for calculating multiple disabilities.
Here is a simplified example:
Example: If you have a 30% disability rating, the VA would multiply that against 100%, which is assumed to be good health. This gives you 30%. Subtract that from 100% which leaves you with 70% . Then subtract 70% from 100% and you are left with 30%. If that is your only disability, then your final VA Service-Connected Disability Rating is 30%.
If you have multiple ratings, you continue with the process, using your final number each time as your starting point. Continuing with our example, if your next rating is 10%, you would multiply 10% against 70%, which is 7%. You subtract that from 70%, which leaves you with 63%. Subtract 63% from 100% and you get 37%. Your disability rating is 37%, which rounds up to 40%.
It can get complicated quickly, so I have an in-depth article and podcast that explain how the VA calculates combined disability ratings. I highly recommend reading and/or listening to get a good idea of how the process works!
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Disabled Veterans And Caregivers To Gain Access To Exchanges Commissaries And Recreation Facilities
About Ryan Guina
Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.
Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.
Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.
Featured In: Ryan’s writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine , Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.