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September 18, 2020

VA Claims Made Easy: The Definitive Guide to the VA Disability Compensation Program

Last updated on December 21, 2022

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.

Hi fellow Veterans, Brian Reese here from VA Claims Insider, and this is your VA Claims Made Easy moment because we go in-depth to bring you the most common VA disabilities by body system, condition, and rating using REAL VBA data.

Filing a VA disability claim is pretty simple using the new website, and in fact, I do a complete step-by-step tutorial in this video:

However, you don’t just want to “file” a VA claim—you want to file a WINNING VA disability claim, with the right strategy and evidence necessary to get the VA benefits you’ve earned by law.

The bottom line is every Veteran’s VA claim is different and unique to them, which means YOU must do an inventory of your body from head-to-toe, and carefully document your disability conditions in medical records, if/how they’re related to your military service, and how severe your symptoms are today.

Generally, the more severe your symptoms, the higher the VA disability rating you’ll receive.

Do you deserve a HIGHER VA disability rating by law?

In our experience with over 10,000 disabled veterans, 8/10 (80%) are UNDERRATED by the VA…

If you’d like to get *exclusive* members-only access to the most comprehensive VA disability education on the planet, and potentially get the VA rating you deserve in less time, please click the link below to join the world’s largest community of Veterans Helping Veterans Worldwide™

With VA Claims Insider ELITE, it’s VA Claims Made Easy:


You are not alone! We are Veterans helping Veterans!
Become an Elite Member and work with our Veteran Coaches to get the rating you deserve! 

Veterans can use the information gleaned from this post to get a better understanding of some of the more interesting facts about the VA disability system, along with some of the easiest things to claim for VA disability.

Think of this post as your VA Claims Made Easy moment, to help you get “inside” the 8-step VA claim process and arm yourself with data to help you in your VA disability claim journey.

The information in this post was compiled using the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) 2019-2020 annual report to Congress about the VA disability compensation program.

We analyzed the entire 52-page VBA report, including data from 56 VA regional offices, 14,558 employees, and 4,944,275 veterans with a combined service-connected VA disability rating of 0% or higher.

Here’s a summary of our key findings about the VA disability compensation system.

VA Claims Made Easy Data – Summary of Our Key Findings

VA Claims Made Easy
  • The VA spends an estimated $84.6 billion per year in VA disability compensation payments to disabled veterans and surviving spouses
  • Only 4,944,275 of the estimated 20,000,000 veterans in the United States have a combined VA disability rating of 0% or higher (just 24.7% of veterans)
  • An estimated 75.3% of veterans in the United States do NOT receive any sort of VA disability compensation benefits from the VA…this is a bit shocking
  • 4,944,275 veterans with a VA rating of 0% or higher have a total of 27,169,321 disability conditions service connected, meaning the average number of service-connected conditions per veteran is 5.50
  • A tale of two extremes: The most common combined VA disability rating is 10% (18.2% of total) followed by veterans with a 100% VA rating (15.7% of total)
  • Tinnitus (aka, “Ringing in the Ear Syndrome”) is still the #1 most common service-connected VA disability condition across all veteran demographics
  • 76.7% of all service-connected mental health conditions are either Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), or Chronic Adjustment Disorder (CAD)
  • The average VA disability rating for mental health is 70%, and the most common service-connected mental health disability is PTSD, which represents 59.1% of all service connected mental health conditions

10 Most Common Service Connected VA Disability Conditions

  1. Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears)
  2. Hearing loss
  3. Limitation of flexion, knee
  4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  5. Lumbosacral or cervical strain (neck condition)
  6. Scars, general
  7. Paralysis of the sciatic nerve (sciatica and radiculopathy)
  8. Limitation of motion of the ankle
  9. Migraines (headaches)
  10. Limitation of motion of the arm

Most Prevalent VA Disabilities for *NEW* VA Compensation Recipients in FY 2019

Limitation of flexion, knee108,037
Hearing loss88,055
Lumbosacral or cervical strain76,050
Limitation of motion of the arm71,038
Scars, burns (2nd degree)65,675
Limitation of motion of the ankle55,028
Post-traumatic stress disorder49,743
Paralysis of the sciatic nerve42,314
Total number of most prevalent disabilities782,270
Total number of disabilities1,594,475

Most Common VA Disabilities for *ALL* VA Compensation Recipients in FY 2019

Hearing loss1,306,066
Limitation of flexion, knee1,177,885
Post-traumatic stress disorder1,118,041
Lumbosacral or cervical strain1,063,781
Scars, general1,036,326
Paralysis of the sciatic nerve899,559
Limitation of motion of the ankle705,073
Limitation of motion of the arm567,656
Total number of most prevalent disabilities10,658,699
Total number of disabilities27,169,321

Average Combined VA Rating By Gender

Average Combined VA Disability Rating by GenderMale% MaleFemale% FemaleTotal% Total
Total4,350,857 519,031 4,944,275 

Total Estimated Annual Payments Made by VA to Disabled Veterans

Combined Service Connected VA Disability RatingTotal Estimated Annual Payments By VA Rating
Total Estimated Annual VA Disability Payments to Disabled Veterans$84,665,293,361

Most Common VA Disability Conditions by Gender

VA Disability ConditionBody SystemMale%Female%Total% Total
Hearing lossAuditory1,256,6305.40%26,3590.80%1,306,0664.80%
Limitation of flexion, kneeMusculoskeletal1,001,6324.30%170,7104.90%1,177,8854.30%
Post-traumatic stress disorderMental995,1894.20%112,1443.20%1,118,0414.10%
Lumbosacral or cervical strainMusculoskeletal881,4143.80%175,9075.10%1,063,7813.90%
Scars, generalSkin893,2323.80%130,7003.80%1,036,3263.80%
Paralysis of the sciatic nerveNeurological808,5833.40%83,0512.40%899,5593.30%
Limitation of motion of the ankleMusculoskeletal611,5592.60%89,9332.60%705,0732.60%
Limitation of motion of the armMusculoskeletal503,1252.10%62,0791.80%567,6562.10%
Total most prevalent VA disabilities  9,424,99040%1,131,68633%10,658,69939%
Total number of VA disabilities 23,457,597100%3,451,154100%27,169,321100%

Average VA Disability Rating by Body System

VA Disability Body SystemTotal numberPercent of all VA disabilitiesAverage VA disability rating
The Eye315,4081.20%0%
Dental/ Oral129,8160.50%10%
Hemic/ Lymphatic72,2570.30%0%
Infection/ Immune/ Nutrition53,9330.20%0%
Total All VA Disability Conditions27,169,321100%Average VA Rating is 10%

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).

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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.

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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.

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