How the VA's Disability Ratings Affect You

UNDERSTANDING DISABILITY RATINGS

Did you recently return home from a tour of duty in the U.S. military? Are you now in distress because of an injury or illness from your tour? Then you may be eligible for benefits from the government.

If you’re a veteran with disabilities caused by your military service, you can apply for disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

However, you must have a disability rating of 10 percent or higher to qualify for this tax-free monthly payment.1

Understanding Disability Ratings

Why does the VA use disability ratings? The VA uses disability ratings as a way to measure the severity of an injury or illness.1

By using this measurement, the VA can determine the rate of compensation for your pain, suffering, and lost wages.

But you’re probably wondering how you’ll be assigned a rating and who will assign the rating.

Two professionals play vital roles in the rating process: your doctor and a Rating Veterans Service Representative.

Medical Exams and Forms

  • The VA may examine military service records and medical exams when you apply for VA benefits.2
  • The VA reviews this evidence to determine if you have a physical or mental disability that can be linked to your military service.1
  • VA may also review doctor and hospital reports. 2
  • VA may also provide a medical examination if needed. Veterans can also submit exams and reports from a private doctor.2-3
  • To help with this process, the VA has created Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).3 The government agency describes them as medical exam forms matching medical conditions or symptoms.4-5
  • These forms are categorized according to systems of the human body.
  • The streamlined forms [known as DBQs] use check boxes and standardized language so that the disability rating can be made accurately and quickly. A Veterans Health Administration clinician or a private doctor can fill out a DBQ.6

The Rating Veterans Service Representative

Ultimately, someone must assign you a disability rating in order for you to collect benefits. The people who play a pivotal role in the rating process are known as Rating Veterans Service Representatives.

“[They] are responsible for analyzing claims, applying VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities (Rating Schedule), and preparing rating decisions,” the VA says on its employment website.7

The Schedule for Rating Disabilities includes documents matching medical conditions and systems in the human body.8

These documents list different illnesses and injuries and break each illness or injury down into groups of symptoms. Each group is assigned a percentage rating indicating the severity of the symptoms.

The VA says that this type of rating is a measurement for how much a veteran’s disease or injury has hindered his or her ability to make a living.9

The VA’s benefits rate tables show that the higher your disability rating, the more money you will receive in disability compensation payments.10

For example, if your disability were assigned a 30-percent rating, the VA would pay you more each month than a veteran who has a 10-percent rating.

Appealing a Low VA Disability Rating or a Denied Claim

Has the VA denied your disability claim or given you a disability rating that is too low to compensate you properly? Then contact Vets National Advocates.

We can help you file an appeal. We’re knowledgeable in navigating the complex VA appeals process.

Call (877) 777-4021 to talk to one of our advocates. Or, fill out our Denied Claims Rapid Response Form.

References

1. "Compensation: Disability Compensation." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-disability.asp.
 

2. "Compensation: Evidence Requirements." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/evidence.asp.
 

3. "Compensation: Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs)." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_disabilityexams.asp.
 

4. "Compensation: List By DBQ Form Name." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_ListByDBQFormName.asp.
 

5. "Disability Benefits Questionnaires: List by Symptom." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/dbq_ListBySymptom.asp.
 

6. "Disability Benefits Questionnaires: Frequently Asked Questions." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_FAQs.asp.
 

7. "Rating Veterans Service Representative." MyCareer@VA. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://mycareeratva.va.gov/careers/career/099604.
 

8. "38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp.
 

9. "38 CFR Book C, Schedule for Rating Disabilities: 4.1 - Essentials of Evaluative Rating." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/docs/regs/38CFR/BOOKC/PART4/S4_1.doc.
 

10. "Compensation: Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables - Effective 12/1/14." Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/resources_comp01.asp.

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