Did you know that most Veterans do not know what their combined disability rating is? Understanding VA Math is easy once you know what to look for.
I have seen this a lot when I am talking to a client. During the initial phase of the process is the intake call. This is where the client and the Veteran Coach will get on a group Zoom call to go through the process and form a strategy to plan ahead in their VA claims journey. One of the first questions you may be asked is, “What is your combined disability rating?”
I often hear a pause on the other line, which tells me they do not know what their combined rating. And they absolutely don’t know how it is computed.
I often will tell my clients to picture themselves a whole pie in my example of breaking down their combined disability rating. So let’s examine how that rating is calculated in this example.
The VA considers you to be 100 percent whole before any disability rating is considered. Consider that 100% of your pie. Starting out, you are a full pie.
You then receive a rating of 50% for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. That 50% is taken from your 100% full pie. You now are 50% of a once 100% full pie.
In the VA’s eyes you are 50 percent disabled, and 50 percent whole. Now you have a 20% disability for a knee issue. You would then calculate 20 percent of the 50 percent that remains “whole,” which equals 10 percent; then when added to your previous 50 percent, the VA now considers you to be 60 percent disabled and 40 percent whole.
Keep picturing that pie. Next, we factor in 10 percent for a tinnitus disability; 10 percent of the 40 percent that remains whole equals 4 percent, which when added to the 60 percent disability totals 64 percent.
Therefore, at this point, your combined disability rating is 64 percent disabled and 36 percent whole left of your pie. You have one last ratable disability for 10 percent for your foot, the VA would calculate 10 percent of the 36 percent that is still whole (3.6 percent) and add it to your disability, thereby resulting in a combined disability rating of 67.6 percent.
The VA does not pay partial or halves, they round up or down, converting your combined rating to the nearest degree divisible by 10. Therefore, in this pie scenario, you would be paid a 70 percent combined disability rating.
The Combined Ratings Table
The VA uses the Combined Ratings Table below to calculate a combined disability rating. Below you will find the steps VA takes to combine ratings for more than one disability and examples using the Combined Ratings Table to illustrate how combined ratings are calculated.
Instructions for VA Math
List all disabilities in descending order. Start with the highest disability rating, find it in the left column, and find the intersecting point with the next highest disability rating. This is your combined rating for these two disabilities.
If these are your only two disabilities, you can round to the nearest number divisible by 10 (anything 4.9 and lower is rounded down; 5 and higher are rounded up). Repeat this process until you have run the numbers for all disability ratings.
Source: 38 CFR 4.25 – Combined ratings table. Downloadable PDF: You can download this table here (pdf, courtesy of PurpleHeart.org).
Another option for iPhone users would be to download our app! This is a simple way to input your disabilities and have our math give you the answer!
I hope this sheds some light on a very tricky part of your VA disability rating. I believe it is pretty simple to figure out once you can apply the “whole pie,” concept. Please let me know if you have any questions. Godspeed vet!
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About VA Claims Insider
VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible independent medical opinions and nexus statements (medical nexus letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.