Are you a veteran who has served our country and now finds yourself struggling with a service-connected disability, illness, or injury? The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability benefits to veterans who suffer from several illnesses and injuries, including service-connected conditions like mental health.
However, the process of obtaining these benefits can be complicated and can take a long time.
To qualify for VA disability benefits, you must first submit a claim to the VA. This claim will be evaluated by a team of VA employees who will determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for benefits. To receive a 100% disability VA rating, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- You are totally disabled due to a service-related illness or injury.
- You cannot work due to a service-related illness or injury.
- You have a service-connected illness or injury that has caused death.
If your claim is approved, you will be awarded a percentage combined rating based on how severe your illness or injury is. A 100% disability rating on the rating schedule means that your illness or injury is so severe that you cannot work and are entitled to full benefits from the VA.
What is a VA Disability Rating Percentage?
A VA disability rating percentage is the percentage of your service-connected disabilities that the VA has determined results in your inability to secure and follow substantially gainful employment. The higher percentage of disability ratings, the more benefits you will likely receive from the VA.
To qualify for a 100% rating, you must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to your service-connected disabilities. Therefore, you must be completely unable to work or only able to work in a minimal capacity. The VA math for a 100% combined rating is also referred to as “total disability.”
You may be eligible for individual unemployment benefits if you cannot work due to your service-connected disability. This special program allows Veterans to receive the benefits of a 100 percent VA disability rating even if their combined rating is not rated at 100%.
What Benefits Does a 100% VA Disability Rating Include?
The benefits of a 100 percent VA disability rating are extensive. Veterans with a 100% rating are eligible for full medical care from the VA, including hospitalization, prescriptions, and mental health care. They also receive their VA benefits through monthly payments.
In addition, Veterans with a 100 percent disability rating are exempt from paying federal taxes on their monthly compensation disability benefits. They may also be eligible for free or discounted transportation, housing, and government benefits.
How to Apply for a 100% VA Disability Rating
If you believe you are eligible for a 100% VA disability rating, you must complete and submit a VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation, and Related Compensation Benefits. You can get this form from the VA website or your local VA office.
You will need to provide information about your military service, service-connected disabilities, and current employment status. You will also need to submit medical evidence to support your claim.
Once your form is complete, you must submit it to the VA. You can do this by mail, fax, or online through the eBenefits portal.
Combined Disability Rating: Using VA Math
A VA Combined Disability Rating Percentage is a percentage that reflects the combined severity of all service-connected disabilities. This rating determines a veteran’s eligibility for various VA benefits, including additional compensation for multiple disabilities, vocational rehabilitation, and life insurance.
To be eligible for these benefits, a veteran must have a total disability rating of at least 50%. A combined disability rating can be calculated in one of two ways:
- The first way is to add together the ratings for each individual service-connected disability. For example, if a veteran has a 40% rating for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a 20% rating for back pain, the total percent disability rating would be 60%.
- The second way to calculate a combined disability rating is to use the VA’s Combined Ratings Table. This table lists combinations of disabilities and the corresponding disabled veterans’ disability rating percentages.
For example, according to the VA combined ratings table, a veteran with PTSD and back pain would have a total disability rating of 70%.
Filing a VA Disability Claim Based on a Service Connected Disability
If you are a veteran who is disabled due to your military service, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department. To be considered for benefits, you must file a VA disability claim.
You need to know a few things about filing a VA disability claim. First, to be eligible for benefits, you must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to your service-connected disabilities. Marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA service-connected compensation purposes.
You must also provide evidence of your disability to the VA. This evidence can include medical records, military records, and any other documentation that can support your claim.
Multiple Service-Connected Disabilities and the Combined Ratings Table
If you have more than one disability, the VA will assign diagnostic codes and calculate your disability ratings using the Combined Rating Table. This table can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 38 CFR 3.321.
Disability ratings determine your eligibility for benefits, the number of benefits you receive, if monthly benefit increases incrementally over time, or if you are granted permanent status. The higher your total disability rating for each service-connected condition, the greater the benefit amount on every monthly payment.
- The higher the disability rating, the higher the monthly benefit. The monthly grant rises gradually with each higher disability rating.
- A 100% disability rating (based on injury severity on the rating schedule) achieves the maximum month-to-month VA disability compensation benefit.
- Maximum scheduler benefits are paid if the veteran qualifies with a 100 percent disability rating.
- Even if you don’t receive any monthly monetary compensation based on your injuries, such as your service-connected disability rated 0% for your disabilities, it is still essential to start the process should your one service-connected condition progress.
Once you have gathered all of your evidence for your VA claims, you can begin the application process by completing VA Form 21-526, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Benefits. You can submit your initial rating assignment application by electronic mail, in person, or send by post.
If you have any questions about filing VA disability claims, contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000.
VA Benefits Disability Ratings
You must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to your service-connected disabilities (marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA purposes).
If your employer provides “extensive and unreasonable accommodations, ” your workplace may be considered a protected work environment. A protected work environment offers another situation in which you can be employed and still receive Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
A service-connected condition rated 100 percent disability would maximize the disabled veteran’s earning capacity.
What If My Claim Is Denied?
If your claim for a 100% VA disability rating is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You should contact the VA office that issued the denial to discuss your options. If you can still not receive a higher rating, you can file a Notice of Disagreement with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals is the final step in the VA appeals process. You can represent yourself before the Board, but it is recommended that you constitute legal advice through a disabled veterans attorney to help with your case.
An experienced Veterans disability attorney can help you navigate the claims and higher rating appeals process. The attorney or law firm can also gather and submit evidence to support your claim and represent you before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
A VA Rating for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Victims
Camp Lejeune water contamination victims have long been fighting for recognition and compensation from the VA. In 2012, Congress passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act.
The Act provided health care and disability benefits to veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987, who were exposed to contaminated water. However, this legislation did not cover many veterans because they did not meet the 30-day requirement, single-person federal poverty threshold, or were unaware of the contamination.
In February 2017, VA Secretary David Shulkin announced that the Department would award disability benefits to all Camp Lejeune veterans who could show evidence of exposure to toxic chemicals in the water.
This announcement was a significant victory for every Camp Lejeune veteran, dependent spouse, and their families, who have been fighting for years for recognition and compensation from the VA. The new regulations provide disability benefits to veterans with any 15 medical conditions associated with chemical exposure, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and leukemia.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 provides health care to Marines and their families exposed to contaminated water while living at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987.
Millions of service members and families living in the area were exposed to drinking water contaminated with benzene, trichloroethylene, and other chemicals. These toxins caused leukemia, birth defects, and other serious illnesses in many Marines and their families.
The new regulations provide much-needed relief through additional benefits to Camp Lejeune veterans and their families, many of whom have been struggling with health problems caused by the contamination. These regulations are a step in the right direction to maximize VA claims involving service-connected conditions, but more needs to be done to ensure that all Camp Lejeune veterans receive the compensation they deserve.
The PACT Act of 2022 and Overseas Toxic Burn Pits
President Joseph Biden passed The PACT Act of 2022 in response to the alarming number of veterans who have contracted serious illnesses from exposure to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Act creates a registry of service members and civilians exposed to toxic burn pits, as well as provides health and medical care and other benefits to those affected.
The need for such legislation is clear. According to the Department of Defense, more than 330,000 service members have been exposed to toxic burn pits since 2001. As a result, thousands of veterans have developed serious illnesses, including cancer, respiratory problems, and neurological disorders.
The PACT Act of 2022 provides much-needed assistance to these veterans and their families. It would establish a registry so those affected can receive the care and benefits they need, and it would provide funding for research into the long-term effects of exposure to toxic burn pits.
The compensation amount is based on the veteran’s individual unemployability on service-connected conditions, and any rating reduction should their condition improve. Typically, injured veterans with 100 VA disability ratings receive maximum benefits.
This critical legislation deserves the support of all Americans. We must do everything we can to help the veterans who have made such enormous sacrifices for our country.
Agent Orange Herbicide Exposure and the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD)
For many Vietnam veterans, their service in the war left them with debilitating health conditions. For veterans exposed to Agent Orange, the VA provides benefits to help cover the costs of their care.
Agent Orange is a herbicide used during the Vietnam War to clear away trees and undergrowth. Veterans exposed to Agent Orange are at a higher risk for developing health conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
The VA can help you pay for medical treatment and disability benefits if you are a veteran exposed to Agent Orange. You may be eligible for monthly payments, healthcare coverage, and other benefits. To find out if you qualify for VA benefits, contact the VA today.
If you are a veteran struggling with a service-connected disability, know that you are not alone. Many programs and benefits are available to help you get the care and compensation you deserve. Reach out to the VA today to learn more about how they can help you.
The brave men and women who have served our country deserve our support. We must do everything to help them get the care and benefits they need. These essential pieces of legislation are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to ensure that all veterans receive the compensation they deserve.