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December 24, 2021

How to Get Permanent and Total Disability From the VA (4-Step Process Explained)

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In this post, I’ll reveal and explain How to Get Permanent and Total Disability From the VA to include how to apply and check for 100 percent P&T status.

But first, let’s talk about the “Permanent” and “Total” disability definitions because they’re critical and have very different meanings:

  • Permanent Disability means the impairment is reasonably certain to continue throughout the life of the disabled veteran.
  • Total Disability is any impairment of mind or body which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average veteran to follow a substantially gainful occupation.

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By definition, a veteran can have a temporary Total disability, such as a total knee replacement OR a Permanent disability rated less than 100%, such as Depression that’s been rated at 70% for the past 10 years.

Veterans can also be BOTH Permanent and Total, which is the primary focus of this post.

The major benefit of being deemed both “Permanent and Total” is that P&T status is 1 of 7 types of protected VA disability ratings not subject to VA reevaluations.

This means the VA can’t reduce your VA rating (unless the previous rating was based on fraud).

Finally, getting a 100% Permanent and Total VA rating entitles you and your family to a host of additional VA benefits, to include FREE healthcare for your dependents through the CHAMPVA program.

What is a “Permanent” Disability for VA Rating Purposes?

What is a Permanent Disability for VA Rating Purposes

A “Permanent” disability exists when it is reasonably certain, based upon medical evidence, that the level of impairment will continue for the rest of the veteran’s life.

The VA can take your age into consideration when determining whether a disability is Permanent.

Therefore, it can be more difficult for veterans under 55 years old to be considered permanently disabled.

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What is a “Total” Disability for VA Rating Purposes?

What is a Total Disability for VA Rating Purposes

A “Total” disability exists when there is any impairment of mind or body which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation. 

Total disability may or may not be Permanent.

Total ratings will not be assigned, generally, for temporary exacerbations or acute infectious diseases except where specifically prescribed by the rating schedule.

Total ratings are authorized for any disability or combination of disabilities for which the Schedule for Rating Disabilities prescribes a 100% evaluation or, with less disability with the requirements of the rating schedule.

Total Disability Based on a Veteran’s Medical History 

Total Disability Based on a Veterans Medical History

In the case of disabilities which have undergone some recent improvement, a rating of total disability may be made if:

  • The disability must in the past have been of sufficient severity to warrant a total disability rating;
  • The disability has required extended, continuous, or intermittent hospitalization, or have produced total industrial incapacity for at least 1 year, or be subject to recurring, severe, frequent, or prolonged exacerbations; AND
  • In the opinion of the rating agency, despite the recent improvement of the physical condition, the veteran will be unable to affect an adjustment into a substantially gainful occupation. Due consideration will be given to the frequency and duration of totally incapacitating exacerbations since incurrence of the original disease or injury, and to periods of hospitalization for treatment in determining whether the average person could have reestablished himself or herself in a substantially gainful occupation.

VA Permanent and Total Disability: How Does the VA Determine “Permanent and Total” Disability Status?

How Does the VA Determine Permanent and Total Disability Status

Permanence of a Total disability will be taken to exist when such impairment is reasonably certain to continue throughout the life of the disabled person. The age of the disabled person may be considered in determining permanence.

  • The permanent loss or loss of use of both hands, or of both feet, or of one hand and one foot, or of the sight of both eyes, or becoming permanently helpless or bedridden constitutes permanent total disability.
  • Diseases and injuries of long standing which are totally incapacitating will be regarded as permanently and totally disabling when the probability of permanent improvement under treatment is remote.
  • Permanent total disability ratings may not be granted because of any incapacity from acute infectious disease, accident, or injury, unless there is present one of the recognized combinations or permanent loss of use of extremities or sight, or the person is in the strict sense permanently helpless or bedridden, or when it is reasonably certain that a subsidence of the acute or temporary symptoms will be followed by irreducible totality of disability by way of residuals.

How to Get Permanent and Total Disability From the VA in 4 Steps

How to Get Permanent and Total Disability From the VA

If P&T status isn’t added to your claim automatically, here’s how to get permanent and total disability from the VA in a few simple steps:

  • Step #1. Open a new claim online at VA.gov, and add a new disability called “Request for Permanent and Total Disability Status.”
  • Step #2. You’ll want to upload medical evidence showing that your disabilities meet the definitions of permanent and total (e.g., your GERD is rated at the highest level by law and isn’t going to get better).
  • Step #3. It’s helpful to have your treating physician or other private medical professional write a letter on your behalf explaining how your disabilities are Total, Permanent, and unlikely to improve.
  • Step #4. You should write a personal Statement in Support of a Claim documenting how your disability condition(s) are “static” and not subject to a Routine Future Examination (RFE).

VA Permanent and Total Disability and Working: Can I Work With a 100% P&T VA Rating?

VA Permanent and Total Disability and Working

Yes, you can work full-time with a 100% VA permanent and total disability rating.

There are no income restrictions on disabled veterans working with VA 100 P&T rating.

The only time income is a factor is if you’re in receipt of Individual Unemployability as a result of your service connected disabilities.

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Free Healthcare for the Dependents of a Veteran with 100% P&T Status

Free Healthcare for the Dependents of a Veteran with 100 PT Status

The #1 best benefit of being deemed Permanently and Totally disabled by the VA is that your dependents qualify for free private healthcare through the CHAMPVA program.

CHAMPA is an excellent healthcare program for the spouse and children of a veteran rated at 100 P&T.

While veterans must receive their healthcare at the VA (unless approved for Community Care), your dependents can receive free healthcare at private medical facilities.

Unfortunately, ChampVA does NOT cover Dental or Optometry expenses.

>> 5 Minute Explainer Post: Is CHAMPVA Good or Bad? <<

Veteran’s rated 100 percent permanent and total level must apply for CHAMPVA insurance benefits directly on behalf of their dependents by mail or fax:

VHA Office of Community Care
CHAMPVA Eligibility
PO Box 469028
Denver CO 80246-9028

Fax: (303) 331-7809

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Founder & CEO

Brian Reese is a VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”

His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.

Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.

His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.

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).

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