Skip to content

July 4, 2024

VA Math Explained: How the VA Combined Rating Chart Works

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

If you have three disability ratings, one at 70% and two at 50%, doesn’t that equal 70% + 50% + 50% = 170%?

Not according to VA math!

VA disability ratings are not cumulative in the way the rest of the world uses basic addition.

Instead, the VA starts with your highest rated individual disability and applies its unique “fuzzy math” equation to determine your combined VA disability rating.

This method ensures that your combined rating accurately reflects the overall impact of multiple disabilities on a veteran’s ability to function.

Okay, let’s explore the basics of VA math to understand how the combined VA rating chart works and how it determines your final disability rating.

Summary of Key Points

  • VA Disability Ratings Are Not Cumulative: Instead of simply adding percentages together, the VA uses a unique formula to combine multiple disability ratings, starting with the highest and applying each subsequent rating to the remaining efficiency.
  • Efficiency Calculation: The VA calculates the remaining efficiency after each disability percentage is applied (this means the part of you that’s still healthy). For example, a 60% disability leaves 40% efficiency. A subsequent 30% disability is then applied to this remaining 40% efficiency. This means you’re 60% disabled and 40% healthy.
  • Combined Rating Determination: The combined rating is found by subtracting the final efficiency from 100%. This combined rating is then rounded to the nearest 10%, ensuring an accurate reflection of the overall impact of multiple disabilities. For example, a 95.00 combined VA rating rounds up to 100%.
  • Use of Combined Ratings Table: The VA Combined Ratings Table simplifies this process by providing a straightforward way to find the combined rating. Veterans can also use online calculators to quickly determine their combined VA rating based on the latest pay rates and factors. Using a VA disability rating calculator is by far the easiest way to compute your combined VA rating.

The Easy Way to Calculate Your Combined VA Rating

If you don’t want to take the time to manually calculate your combined VA rating, just use our free online VA Disability Calculator.

Our calculator includes the new 2024 VA disability pay rates with dependents as well as the VA’s bilateral factor.

The VA Combined Rating Table Explained

The VA Combined Ratings Table helps determine a veteran’s overall disability rating when they have multiple disabilities.

Here’s how it works:

#1. Order of Disabilities: Arrange all disabilities from highest to lowest percentage.

    #2. Calculating Efficiency:

    • First Disability: Subtract the first (highest) disability percentage from 100% to find the remaining efficiency. For example, a 60% disability leaves 40% efficiency. This means you’re 60% disabled and 40% healthy.
    • Second Disability: Apply the next highest disability percentage to the remaining efficiency. For example, 30% of the remaining 40% efficiency is 12%, leaving 28% efficiency (40% – 12%). This means you’re 72% disabled and 28% healthy.
    • Combined Rating: Subtract the final efficiency from 100% to find the combined disability rating. In this case, 100% – 28% efficiency = 72% disabled.

    How to Use the VA Combined Rating Chart (Step-by-Step)

    • Step #1: Find the first disability percentage in the left column.
    • Step #2: Find the second disability percentage in the top row.
    • Step #3: The intersection of the row and column gives the combined VA rating.
    • Step #4: Round this combined rating to the nearest 10%. If the result ends in 5, round up to the next 10%.

      Source: Code of Federal Regulations (

      Example Combined VA Rating Table Calculations

      Two Disabilities:

      • 60% Disability: 100% – 60% = 40% efficiency.
      • 30% Disability: 30% of 40% efficiency = 12%.
      • Remaining Efficiency: 40% – 12% = 28% efficiency.
      • Combined Disability: 100% – 28% efficiency = 72%, rounded to 70%.

      Three Disabilities:

      • 60% Disability: 100% – 60% = 40% efficiency.
      • 40% Disability: 40% of 40% efficiency = 16%.
      • Remaining Efficiency: 40% – 16% = 24% efficiency.
      • 20% Disability: 20% of 24% efficiency = 4.8%.
      • Remaining Efficiency: 24% – 4.8% ≈ 19.2% efficiency.
      • Combined Disability: 100% – 19.2% efficiency ≈ 80%, rounded to 80%.

      Four Disabilities:

      • 50% Disability: 100% – 50% = 50% efficiency.
      • 30% Disability: 30% of 50% efficiency = 15%.
      • Remaining Efficiency: 50% – 15% = 35% efficiency.
      • 20% Disability: 20% of 35% efficiency = 7%.
      • Remaining Efficiency: 35% – 7% = 28% efficiency.
      • 10% Disability: 10% of 28% efficiency = 2.8%.
      • Remaining Efficiency: 28% – 2.8% = 25.2% efficiency.
      • Combined Disability: 100% – 25.2% efficiency ≈ 74.8%, rounded to 70%.

      Key Points to Remember:

      • Disabilities are combined starting with the highest percentage.
      • Remaining efficiency is calculated step-by-step.
      • The final combined rating is rounded to the nearest 10%.

      VA Math and The Combined VA Rating Table – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

      1. What is VA Math?

      VA Math refers to the method used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to combine multiple disability ratings into a single, overall disability rating. This method takes into account the efficiency of the individual after each disability is applied, rather than simply adding the percentages together.

      2. Why doesn’t the VA simply add disability percentages together?

      Adding percentages directly could result in a total that exceeds 100%, which does not accurately reflect the veteran’s remaining capacity to function. The VA’s method ensures a more accurate representation of the combined impact of multiple disabilities.

      3. How does the Combined Ratings Table work?

      The Combined Ratings Table starts with the highest disability rating and subtracts it from 100% to determine the remaining efficiency. Each subsequent disability rating is then applied to this remaining efficiency. The process is repeated for each disability, and the final efficiency is converted back to a combined disability rating.

      4. Can you provide an example of how VA Math is calculated?

      For example, if a veteran has disabilities rated at 50%, 30%, and 20%:

      • Start with the highest rating: 50%. Remaining efficiency = 100% – 50% = 50%.
      • Apply the next highest rating: 30% of 50% = 15%. Remaining efficiency = 50% – 15% = 35%.
      • Apply the next rating: 20% of 35% = 7%. Remaining efficiency = 35% – 7% = 28%.
      • Combined rating: 100% – 28% = 72%, rounded to the nearest 10% = 70%.

      5. How do you use the Combined Ratings Table?

      Find the highest disability rating on the left column of the table. Then, find the next highest rating along the top row. The intersection of the row and column gives the combined rating. This combined value is then used to calculate the next disability percentage.

      6. Is there a tool to help calculate combined ratings?

      Yes, there are online calculators available that use the VA Combined Ratings Table to simplify the process. These tools allow veterans to input their disability ratings and see the combined rating instantly.

      7. What is the rounding rule in VA Math?

      After calculating the combined disability rating, the final percentage is rounded to the nearest 10%. If the combined rating ends in a 5, it is rounded up to the next 10%.

      8. How does the VA handle bilateral disabilities?

      Bilateral disabilities (affecting both arms, both legs, or paired skeletal muscles) are combined differently. The VA adds 10% to the combined rating of these disabilities before combining them with other disabilities.

      9. Can the VA Math result in a 100% disability rating?

      Yes, if the combined impact of multiple disabilities severely impairs a veteran’s ability to function, the final combined rating can reach 100%. For example, a 95.00 combined VA disability rating rounds up to 100%.

      10. Does VA Math affect Individual Unemployability (IU) claims?

      No, VA Math is used to calculate the combined disability rating, whereas Individual Unemployability (IU) is a separate consideration that allows veterans who cannot maintain gainful employment due to service-connected disabilities to receive compensation at the 100% rate, regardless of their combined rating.

      11. How often is the Combined Ratings Table updated?

      The Combined Ratings Table is based on a fixed formula and does not change frequently. Any updates would be reflected in official VA documentation.

      12. Where can I find the VA Combined Ratings Table?

      The VA Combined Ratings Table can be found on the VA’s official website and in the Code of Federal Regulations (38 CFR § 4.25).

      13. Is it possible to appeal a combined rating calculation?

      Yes, if a veteran believes there has been an error in calculating their combined rating, they can file an appeal with the VA for a reevaluation.

      14. How does the VA calculate additional ratings for new disabilities?

      New disabilities are added to the existing combined rating using the same VA Math process, considering the remaining efficiency after the current combined rating.

      15. Can mental health conditions be combined with physical disabilities in VA Math?

      Yes, all service-connected disabilities, whether physical or mental, are combined using the VA Math process to determine the overall disability rating.

      16. What is the importance of the combined rating?

      The combined rating determines the overall level of disability compensation a veteran receives, impacting their financial support and access to VA benefits.

      17. Does VA Math consider non-service-connected disabilities?

      No, VA Math only applies to service-connected disabilities. Non-service-connected disabilities are not factored into the combined rating.

      18. How does VA Math affect special monthly compensation (SMC)?

      Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is awarded for specific disabilities or combinations of disabilities and is calculated separately from the combined rating, though the combined rating can impact eligibility for certain SMC benefits.

      About the Author

      Brian Reese
      Brian Reese

      Brian Reese

      Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

      Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

      As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

      He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

      Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

      Related Articles

      Featured Resources

      Elite Membership

      Dear Veteran,
      Here’s the brutal truth about VA disability claims:

      According to our data, 8/10 (80%) of veterans reading this message right now are underrated by the VA…

      This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

      As a fellow disabled Veteran this is shameful and I’m on a mission to change it.

      Brian Reese here, Air Force service-disabled Veteran and Founder @ VA Claims Insider.

      Since 2016, VA Claims Insider has helped thousands of Veterans just like you get the VA rating and compensation they deserve in less time.

      If accepted into our ELITE membership program, you’ll get free up-front access and permission to use $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources, including access to our network of independent medical professionals for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Medical Nexus Letters, which could help you get a HIGHER VA rating in LESS time.

      It’s FREE to get started, so click “Go Elite Now” below to complete our 3-step intake process.

      1. Complete Basic Information
      2. Sign Members Agreement
      3. Join the Mastermind Group

      If you’re stuck, frustrated, underrated, and currently rated between 0%-90%, VA Claims Insider Elite is for you!

      Click “Go Elite Now” below to get started today and a member of our team will be in touch within minutes.

      Go Elite Now!

      Why Choose VA Claims Insider

      You’ve exhausted your free resources

      You're not alone. Thousands of other Veterans in our Community are here for you.

      Veteran Community

      You’re ready to get the rating you deserve

      We know the pain of feeling stuck, frustrated, and alone, and we want to make this process as easy and painless as possible for you.

      Explore Elite Membership

      We win ONLY when YOU win

      Hear from fellow Veterans just like you, with many of our Veteran Ambassadors having gone through our programs.

      Schedule a Call

      Fellow Veterans:

      For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

      Book A Call

      Fellow Veterans:

      For a limited time, you can book a free, no-obligation VA Claim Discovery Call with one of our experts.

      Book A Call