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August 1, 2023

The Temporary 100% VA Disability Guide

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Are you a recently separated veteran with an unstable, significantly disabling service-connected condition? Or do you need surgery, wear a cast, or spend time in the hospital because of a service-connected condition? If so, keep reading because this guide is for you. 

The VA offers several types of temporary 100% VA disability ratings. These temporary ratings can help you if you can’t work because of your service-connected disability.

In this guide, we lay out everything you need to know about temporary VA disability ratings, including:

  • The three types of temporary disability ratings
  • How long temporary ratings last
  • How much you can get for a temporary rating, and
  • Other frequently asked questions

Let’s dive in!



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What’s the Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Disability?

In general, a permanent VA disability rating isn’t reduced or taken away (unless it resulted from fraud). In other words, permanent disabilities don’t have an “expiration date.”

As long as the VA determines you’re still eligible, you’ll continue to receive compensation at the level the VA has rated you. Even if you’re no longer eligible, that’s a determination the VA has to make, which involves examinations and record reviews. It’s a lot of work, so it isn’t likely to happen if you don’t give the VA a reason to reevaluate your rating. 

A temporary 100% VA disability rating, as the name suggests, doesn’t last forever. They can be reduced and will eventually be taken away or converted into a permanent rating if you meet the rating criteria. The duration of a temporary rating depends on what type of temporary rating the VA awards you. 

The 3 Types of Temporary Disability Ratings

There are three types of temporary disability ratings awarded by the VA—prestabilization, hospitalization, and convalescence.

Temporary disability VA ratings are designed to make sure you have income while you recover from a disability, or treatment of a disability, that has left you unable to provide for yourself. With one of these temporary ratings, you can be paid at the 100% level without having a disability rated at 100%. 

#1 Prestabilization

A temporary 100% VA disability rating can be awarded to veterans with a service-connected condition considered “unstable” but is expected to improve with treatment. This means the condition requires frequent monitoring and testing by medical professionals but will likely improve. The condition also has to be severe enough that you can’t work.

The VA awards either a 100% or 50% prestabilization rating for these types of conditions:

  1. An unstable, severely disabling condition that makes maintaining substantially gainful employment unfeasible or inadvisable = 100%
  2. Unhealed or incompletely healed wounds or injuries that make employability unlikely = 50%

Prestabilization ratings are typically awarded immediately following discharge from the military and are in place of a permanent rating. This means that the VA recognizes you have a disability that is service-connected, but they don’t yet have all the required information to award a permanent rating. While that decision is being made, you could get a temporary 100% VA disability rating under prestabilization.

Prestabilzation ratings are awarded for a 12-month period. But they can be changed to a permanent rating at any time before that if you meet all the eligibility requirements and if the change would be a better benefit for you. That permanent rating could remain at 100% or be decreased. It just depends on the severity of your condition. 

NOTE: If while you have a prestabilzation rating you are awarded a permanent rating that is less than 100%, you’ll still receive compensation at the 100% level for the rest of the 12-month prestabilization period.

Temporary 100% VA Disability Rating:

To be eligible for a temporary 100% VA disability rating for prestabilization, you must meet both of these criteria:

  1. You have a severe service-connected disability that is unstable (meaning an illness or injury that will change or hasn’t yet been fully treated)
  2. Your disability is expected to continue for an unknown amount of time

#2 Hospitalization

A temporary 100% VA disability rating can also be awarded if you spend more than 21 days in a VA hospital or VA-approved hospital because of a service-connected condition. For example, if you have service-connected diabetes and spend 30 days in a VA hospital because you are at risk of going into a diabetic coma, you could be eligible for temporary disability from the VA.

A temporary rating for hospitalization begins the day you enter the hospital and ends the last day of the month you were discharged. For example, suppose you are hospitalized from April 3rd to May 15th. In that case, your effective date is April 3rd, and the temporary rating is terminated May 31st. In this case, you’ll receive one month of prorated compensation and one entire month of compensation at the 100% rating level. 

Can you get a temporary 100% VA disability rating for mental health hospitalization?

Yes. Hospitalization for a service-connected mental disorder falls under the temporary hospitalization rating category. If you’re admitted to a hospital for observation because of suicide ideation, for example, for more than 21 days, you could qualify for a temporary hospitalization rating.

#3 Convalescence

If you plan to have surgery for a service-connected condition, the VA could award you a temporary 100% VA disability rating for the duration of your recovery period. This recovery period is called convalescence. The VA defines convalescence as a period of recovery from surgery or an immobilizing disability.

As with prestabilization and hospitalization ratings, a convalescence rating serves to help you financially until you can provide for yourself.

Surgery Requirements for a Convalescence Rating

If your service-connected condition requires surgery, the surgery must have resulted in one of the following for you to be eligible for a convalescence rating:

  1. A convalescence period of at least one month
  2. Severe postoperative conditions like: 
  • Incompletely healed surgical wounds, stumps of recent amputations
  • Therapeutic immobilization of one major joint or more
  • A body cast
  • The necessity for house confinement
  • The necessity for continued use of a wheelchair or crutches

You could also qualify for VA convalescence pay after surgery if you’re immobilized due to a cast placed on at least one major joint.

Convalescence eligibility is sometimes established by a report generated by the VA at the time of your hospital discharge or outpatient release. It will indicate that you underwent a surgical procedure that requires at least one month of convalescence to return to a healthy state. 

It can also be established by a work excuse provided by a medical professional as long as there’s a clear connection between your inability to return to previous employment and surgery or cast immobilization and there’s no evidence to the contrary in your record.

temporary 100 VA disability for knee replacement

Temporary 100% VA Disability for Knee Replacement

Knee replacements are an excellent example of when a convalescence rating may be awarded. If your knee needs replacement surgery, you’ll spend a lot of time off your feet in recovery. If your knee needs to be replaced because of a service-connected condition, you could be eligible for a temporary 100% VA disability convalescence rating.

More information on VA knee ratings

How to File for Temporary 100% VA Disability

Each temporary rating type is handled differently:

Applying for a Prestabilization Rating

Filing for a prestabilization rating is done the same way as every other VA claim. We’ve written many posts covering everything you need to know about how to file a claim; one of the best is How to File a VA Claim: A Comprehensive FAQ Guide. But here are the basics:

  1. Submit your intent to file. This will lock in your effective date, which could send back pay your way if you’re awarded a permanent rating. 
  2. Collect your evidence. Any medical evidence relating to your condition and the in-service event, injury, or disease that caused it will be useful. You’ll also need documents like your DD-214 to prove military service.
  3. Submit your claim. This can be done online at, through the mail, or in person at a VA regional office.
  4. Hurry up and wait. The entire VA claims process, from submission to receipt of your decision letter, could take 58 days to six months. As of May 2023, the VA averages 122 to 130 days to process claims. However, the VA makes an exception for prestabilzation ratings. If your claim sufficiently establishes your condition is service-connected, and your condition is “unstable and significantly disabling,” then the VA will award you a prestabilzation rating while they evaluate the totality of your claim. This means you’ll likely get compensation sooner than you would otherwise. 

Applying for a Hospitalization Rating

A temporary 100% VA disability hospitalization rating can be awarded when the VA receives notice that you’ve been hospitalized. Based on a report that is generated automatically by the VA, they will temporarily adjust your rate if you’re hospitalized for more than 21 days in a VA hospital or VA-approved hospital for a service-connected condition. 

Remember, you must also submit a claim for a temporary hospitalization rating. If you know you’ll spend some time in the hospital, submit a claim as soon as possible. Follow the same steps listed in the previous section.

Applying for a Convalescence Rating

Two things can trigger a temporary 100% VA disability convalescence rating:

  1. You submit a claim
  2. The VA receives a report of your hospitalization. This report is automatically generated and reviewed by the VA.

It’s a good idea to be proactive and apply for a convalescence rating before you need it. Ask your doctor if your treatment will result in any of the eligibility criteria discussed above. If it will, submit a claim for a convalescence rating before receiving treatment. 

How Long Do Temporary Ratings Last?

A prestabilization rating lasts 12 months. Throughout the 12 months, the VA will require at least one medical examination. This examination could reduce your temporary rating to 50%, depending on how your condition prevents you from working. However, the higher evaluation will be continued to the end of the 12th month following discharge.

A hospitalization rating lasts as long as you’re hospitalized. However, after six months, the VA will assess you for a permanent rating according to the regular rating schedule.

A convalescence rating lasts one, two, or three months, depending on the treatment you received. But it can be extended in incremental amounts of one, two, or three months, up to six months. (The max duration of a convalescence rating is six months).

Temporary 100% VA disability Back Pay

As with all VA claims, back pay for a temporary rating will depend on your effective date. For a hospitalization rating, your effective date is the first day of your hospitalization until the last day of the month of hospital discharge in a VA hospital or VA-approved hospital. For example, in some cases, if your temporary hospitalization rating isn’t approved until day 20 of a 60-day hospital stay, you’ll still receive 60 days’ worth of compensation.

The effective date for a prestabilization rating is typically established by your separation date. That’s because this type of temporary rating is usually awarded to veterans who were separated because of a disability caused by an in-service event, disease, or injury.

The effective date for a convalescence rating is the date you were discharged from the hospital after your treatment or operation.

Temporary Disability for Multiple Conditions

You cannot get multiple temporary 100% VA disability ratings at the same time. Only your most severe condition is eligible for a temporary rating. You can get one after another, however. For example, you could receive a temporary hospitalization rating followed by a convalescence rating.

However, it’s possible for multiple conditions to be permanently rated through the regular rating schedule. When determining your total rating from multiple ratings, the VA calculates what’s called your combined rating. As the name suggests, this is a combination of all your ratings. 

Unfortunately, the way the VA calculates this number can be confusing. You might think they simply add up the percentages from your ratings, and that equals your total rating. Instead, each lower rating is factored into the higher rating. 

For example, If you have three ratings, one at 70%, one at 40%, and one at 10%, your total rating is not going to equal 120% because, in the VA’s mind, you can’t be more than 100% disabled.

Instead, they start by subtracting your highest rating from 100. 100 – 70 = 30. They then factor in your next highest rating into the remaining 30%. 40% of 30 is 12. Then, subtract 12 from 30 to get 18. Finally, they’ll factor your 10% rating into the remaining 18%. 10% of 18 is 1.8. That means your total rating equals 80% because 70 + 12 + 1.8 = 83.8%, which is rounded down to 80%. VA ratings are always rounded to the nearest 10.

As you can see, the math can quickly get fuzzy. We suggest using a VA disability rating calculator to calculate your combined VA rating and estimate your monthly compensation.

temporary disability va ratings

How Much Can You Get for Temporary Disability?

How much you get for a temporary 100% VA disability rating depends on a few factors, such as:

  1. If you’re married
  2. If you have dependent children
  3. If you have dependent parents

A veteran with a spouse, two kids, and one dependent parent will receive a higher dollar amount for a 100% rating than a single veteran with no dependents will for a 100% rating.

Temporary ratings are paid out according to the same scale as permanent ratings. A temporary 100% VA disability rating will pay you the same monthly rate as a permanent 100% rating. 

Wrapping Up

There are three ways to get a temporary 100% VA disability rating: prestabilization, hospitalization, and convalescence. How long each temporary rating lasts and how much you receive in monthly compensation depends on how your disability affects you and your family.

As with every VA claim, the filing process can be long and confusing. While VA Claims Insider doesn’t offer guidance for temporary ratings, we have plenty of educational resources you’ll find helpful in submitting a winning claim. Check out our blog for information on all your VA disability questions! 



Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and, therefore, not getting their due compensation. At VA Claims Insider, we educate and support you to understand and take control of the claims process, so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law. Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC)—so you can increase your rating FAST!

If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating—or you’re unsure how to get started—reach out to us! Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation YOU DESERVE!

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