VA Math – What is it?

VA disability calculator

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.

va math

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.

 102030405060708090
19273543516068768492
20283644526068768492
21293745536168768492
22303845536169778492
23313846546269778592
24323947546270778592
25334048556370788593
26334148566370788593
27344249566471788593
28354250576471788693
29364350576572798693
30374451586572798693
31384552596672798693
32394652596673808693
33404653606773808793
34414754606774808793
35424855616874818794
36424955626874818794
37435056626975818794
38445057636975818894
39455157637076828894
40465258647076828894
41475359657176828894
42485459657177838894
43495460667277838994
44505561667278838994
45515662677378848995
46515762687378848995
47525863687479848995
48535864697479849095
49545964697580859095
50556065707580859095
51566166717680859095
52576266717681869095
53586267727781869195
54596368727782869195
55606469737882879196
56606569747882879196
57616670747983879196
58626671757983879296
59636771758084889296
60646872768084889296
61656973778184889296
62667073778185899296
63677074788285899396
64687175788286899396
65697276798386909397
66697376808386909397
67707477808487909397
68717478818487909497
69727578818588919497
70737679828588919497
71747780838688919497
72757880838689929497
73767881848789929597
74777982848790929597
75788083858890939598
76788183868890939598
77798284868991939598
78808285878991939698
79818385879092949698
80828486889092949698
81838587899192949698
82848687899193959698
83858688909293959798
84868789909294959798
85878890919394969799
86878990929394969799
87889091929495969799
88899092939495969899
89909192939596979899
90919293949596979899
91929394959696979899
92939494959697989899
93949495969797989999
94959596969798989999

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!

Brett is a retired U.S. Air force Master Sergeant of twenty years and calls Orlando, Florida his home nowadays.  He is a husband to wife Catherine and proud father to twin boys Mason and Cannon. You can contact him at [email protected]

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