Today, we’ll discuss the 4 best ways to get a copy of your VA Rating Decision Letter, to include why it’s the #1 most important document you’ll receive from the VA.
Issuance of a VA Disability Rating Decision Letter is the final step in the VA claim process—it includes the VA’s final rating decision and analysis (approval, denial, deferral) as well as WHY and HOW the VA Rater and C&P examiner arrived at their opinions and conclusions.
It is critical to review your VA Disability Rating Letter in-detail, especially the section headers marked “Evidence” and “Reasons for Decision.”
Because if you disagree with some or all the VA’s decision, you need to know specific areas of evidence reviewed or not reviewed to include the C&P examiner’s opinion or any flawed logic applied by the VA Rater so you can file an appeal (Higher Level Review or Supplemental Claim).
Okay, let’s dive-in.
You Might Also Like the Following Blog Posts:
- The 8 Step VA Claim Process Explained
- How to Get Your VA C File Fast
- Top 3 Reasons Why Veterans Should Get a Nexus Letter
- VA Disability Rating Letter: What is a VA Rating Decision Letter?
- How Do I Read My VA Disability Rating Decision Letter?
- How Do I Get a Copy of VA Rating Decision Letter?
- Can I See My VA Decision Letter Online?
- Where Can I Find a VA Rating Decision Letter Sample?
- About the Author
VA Disability Rating Letter: What is a VA Rating Decision Letter?
A VA Rating Decision Letter is a document prepared by the VA Rater that formally explains the VA’s rationale for approving, denying, or deferring your VA disability claim.
Your VA Disability Rating Decision Letter includes the VA’s final rating decision and analysis as well as WHY and HOW the VA Rater and C&P examiner arrived at their opinions and conclusions for your VA claim.
The final document will be physically mailed to the home address listed in your VA.gov account.
How Do I Read My VA Disability Rating Decision Letter?
There are five distinct sections in all VA Rating Decision Letters:
Section 1: INTRODUCTION
This section lists your branch of service and dates of active duty from your DD 214.
It also lists the date the VA says it received your VA disability claim.
Make sure this information is correct!
Section 2: DECISION
This section lists the individual disabilities you filed for as well as the VA Raters high-level decision regarding service connection and the disability rating he/she assigned for each condition.
It’s essentially the “Bottom Line Up Front” rating decision made by the VA Rater.
Section 3: EVIDENCE
This section is very important because it lists all the evidence reviewed and considered by the VA Rater.
Make sure all the evidence you submitted is correct and listed in this section.
While VA Raters are supposed to consider all the evidence of record (everything in your VA Claims File), many review and rate claims by “Top Sheeting” as a way to save time.
“Top Sheeting” occurs when a VA Rater only reviews new evidence submitted since your last VA Rating Decision.
One common rating decision error made in this section is only considering some (not all) of the evidence submitted with your claim.
For example, maybe the VA Rater didn’t receive, review, or consider your Nexus Letter, Statement in Support of a Claim, or Buddy Letter before making his/her rating decision.
If this happens, you should appeal using the Higher Level Review or Supplemental Claim option.
Section 4: REASONS FOR DECISION
This section is the most important part of your VA Disability Rating Decision Letter because it explains the VA Rater and C&P examiner’s analysis and rationale behind their final rating decision.
It also lists any favorable findings even if the VA denied your claim.
Read this section carefully!
Common VA rating decision errors include:
- Only considering some, not all, of the evidence submitted with your claim.
- Discounting the “probative value” of a private doctors Nexus Letter versus the C&P examiners medical opinion (siding with the C&P examiner over your private doctor).
- Accepting the C&P examiner’s medical opinion as fact based on an inadequate exam or incomplete DBQ.
- Making an illogical “less likely than not” decision for direct service connection, secondary service connection, or service connection by aggravation and denying the claim.
- Not addressing “how” the disability was aggravated by military service beyond its natural progression or by another service connected disability when the Nexus Letter or evidence provided proves it on at “at least as likely as not” basis.
- Having the C&P examiner provide a negative medical opinion using the words “without resorting to mere speculation” when you have submitted a privately prepared Nexus Letter or other credible medical evidence, which did provide a link for service connection.
Section 5: REFERENCES
The last section includes a standard statement that Title 38, Part 4, the Schedule for Rating Disabilities governs entitlement to VA benefits.
How Do I Get a Copy of VA Rating Decision Letter?
Here’s the top 4 ways to get a copy of your VA Rating Decision Letter:
- #1. Call 1-800-827-1000 and ask a VA representative to send your letter via U.S. mail or via email (if 14 days has passed since the Decision Letter was originally mailed).
- #2. Ask your Accredited VSO to download a copy of your VA Rating Decision Letter from the Veteran Benefits Management System (VBMS).
- #3. Write a letter to the VBA Regional Office in your state requesting a copy of your VA Rating Decision Letter. They will send you a copy of your letter via U.S. mail.
- #4. Submit a VA FOIA Request via email for a complete copy of your VA C File. Your VA C File will contain all the VA Rating Decision Letters ever issued.
Can I See My VA Decision Letter Online?
No, you can’t see or download a copy of your VA Rating Decision Letter online.
You can also view your VA Benefits Summary and Service Verification letter online at VA.gov.
This document will show your combined VA disability rating, whether you’re permanently and totally disabled, and if you’re receiving Special Monthly Compensation.
This is useful to check if your VA claim closed and you’re wondering if you got a rating increase.
Where Can I Find a VA Rating Decision Letter Sample?
Click the link below to download a real VA Rating Decision Letter sample.
About the Author
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).