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How to Calculate Your VA Disability Rating

Rep for Vets > Getting Started  > How to Calculate Your VA Disability Rating

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How to Calculate Your VA Disability Rating

Disabled veteran shows guide to calculating your disability rating on smartphone to friends

Here at the Rep for Vets, we have veterans ask us all the time: How does the VA calculate my disability rating? You may have heard the term “VA math” before. The person using the term is usually expressing confusion or frustration with the weird way the VA rates disability. Here’s an example. John, who saw combat in the first Gulf War, has a 60% rating for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a 30% rating for a back injury, a 10% rating for the left knee disability, and another 10% rating for hearing loss. If you add up all these ratings you get 110%. So how is that John ends up with an 80% rating? Let’s find out.

VA Math, Explained

The first thing you need to know about VA math is that the highest disability rating you can get is 100%. The VA uses a concept called the “Whole Person Theory” to determine a veteran’s disability rating. This method ensures that a disability rating can never exceed 100, since a person can’t be more than 100% able-bodied or disabled. There’s nothing sneaky about this, but it does makes thing more complicated when you have multiple service-connected disabilities.

Using the Combined Rating Table to Calculate Your VA Disability Rating

For all the confusion around VA math, determining your disability rating using the Combined Rating Table (also known as CFR 4.25) is actually pretty straightforward. We’ve reproduced the table in full at the bottom of this post for your reference. To use the rating table, you need to start with the highest disability percentage, and from there arrange them in order of severity, highest to lowest. Find the highest disability in the left column and the next highest disability in the top row. The number where the column and row meet will represent the combined value of both disabilities. So, returning to the example of John, we find the number at the intersection of John’s 60% PTSD rating and his 30% disabling back injury, which is 72%.

Using the VA's Combined Ratings Table to find disability rating

Using the VA’s Combined Ratings Table to find disability rating

Next, we use this combined value of 72% for the left column, and then find the next highest disability on the top row, which is John’s 10% left knee. The number at the intersection of 72% and 10% is 75%.

Using the VA's Combined Ratings Table to find disability rating

The first combined value and the next highest disability gives us a new total %

Repeating the same process once more, we use 75% for the left column and find the 10% for hearing loss in the top row, giving us 78%. The last step is to round up or down to the nearest 10. That’s how the VA arrived at that 80% rating for John’s combined disabilities. (A combined rating of 74% would be rounded down to 70%. You round down on 4 and below, up on 5 and above.)

It’s very important to make sure your disability benefits are being calculated correctly, because the higher your combined rating, the higher your monthly compensation. Combined ratings are also important in determining if you meet the requirements for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU).

Related Resource: How Can I Get a 100% VA Disability Rating for PTSD?

Calculating Dependents

If you have a 30% to 100% disability rating and you have dependents, including children and dependent parents, your compensation rate goes up. Returning to John’s example, his 80% disability rating would get him $1,444 (effective December 1, 2020) if he was not married and did not have any dependents. But since he is married and has a dependent child, he receives $1,922. At the 80% disability rating each additional child under 18 adds an additional $69 a month. If his spouse was receiving Aid and Attendance to help out with the caretaking, they would receive an additional $129. It’s important to let the VA know of any changes to your marital status or dependents. If a child turns 18 and moves out of of the home this could impact the amount of benefits you receive. (Another caveat: if your children are over 18 and were found to be permanently unable to support themselves before they turned 18, or are in college, you may still be eligible to receive some compensation.) For up-to-date compensation rates and more details, consult the VA.gov page on 2021 Veterans disability compensation rates.

How Special Monthly Compensation Can Supplement Your VA Disability Rating

We haven’t talked about Special Monthly Compensation yet. For veterans with severe disabilities, SMC supplements or replaces your monthly disability rating altogether. So if your disability qualified you for SMC-K, you will receive an additional $111 monthly payment. If you qualify for SMC-L through SMC-S, the Special Monthly Compensation rate will replace your regular payment. Don’t worry, the new SMC amount will be a higher amount than what you were previously receiving. To learn more about eligibility, have a look at our extensive guide to Special Monthly Compensation.

Next Steps

Need a little more help understanding VA Math and your disability rating? The VA-accredited claims agents at the Rep for Vets have helped countless veterans across the United States navigate the claims process and get the benefits they deserve. To schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 1-888-573-7838, or fill out this quick form to get started. We look forward to learning about your unique situation and helping out in any way we can.


Appendix 1: Combined Ratings Table

note: 10 combined with 10 is 19

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
19 27 35 43 51 60 68 76 84 92
20 28 36 44 52 60 68 76 84 92
21 29 37 45 53 61 68 76 84 92
22 30 38 45 53 61 69 77 84 92
23 31 38 46 54 62 69 77 85 92
24 32 39 47 54 62 70 77 85 92
25 33 40 48 55 63 70 78 85 93
26 33 41 48 56 63 70 78 85 93
27 34 42 49 56 64 71 78 85 93
28 35 42 50 57 64 71 78 86 93
29 36 43 50 57 65 72 79 86 93
30 37 44 51 58 65 72 79 86 93
31 38 45 52 59 66 72 79 86 93
32 39 46 52 59 66 73 80 86 93
33 40 46 53 60 67 73 80 87 93
34 41 47 54 60 67 74 80 87 93
35 42 48 55 61 68 74 81 87 94
36 42 49 55 62 68 74 81 87 94
37 43 50 56 62 69 75 81 87 94
38 44 50 57 63 69 75 81 88 94
39 45 51 57 63 70 76 82 88 94
40 46 52 58 64 70 76 82 88 94
41 47 53 59 65 71 76 82 88 94
42 48 54 59 65 71 77 83 88 94
43 49 54 60 66 72 77 83 89 94
44 50 55 61 66 72 78 83 89 94
45 51 56 62 67 73 78 84 89 95
46 51 57 62 68 73 78 84 89 95
47 52 58 63 68 74 79 84 89 95
48 53 58 64 69 74 79 84 90 95
49 54 59 64 69 75 80 85 90 95
50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
51 56 61 66 71 76 80 85 90 95
52 57 62 66 71 76 81 86 90 95
53 58 62 67 72 77 81 86 91 95
54 59 63 68 72 77 82 86 91 95
55 60 64 69 73 78 82 87 91 96
56 60 65 69 74 78 82 87 91 96
cont’d
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
57 61 66 70 74 79 83 87 91 96
58 62 66 71 75 79 83 87 92 96
59 63 67 71 75 80 84 88 92 96
60 64 68 72 76 80 84 88 92 96
61 65 69 73 77 81 84 88 92 96
62 66 70 73 77 81 85 89 92 96
63 67 70 74 78 82 85 89 93 96
64 68 71 75 78 82 86 89 93 96
65 69 72 76 79 83 86 90 93 97
66 69 73 76 80 83 86 90 93 97
67 70 74 77 80 84 87 90 93 97
68 71 74 78 81 84 87 90 94 97
69 72 75 78 81 85 88 91 94 97
70 73 76 79 82 85 88 91 94 97
71 74 77 80 83 86 88 91 94 97
72 75 78 80 83 86 89 92 94 97
73 76 78 81 84 87 89 92 95 97
74 77 79 82 84 87 90 92 95 97
75 78 80 83 85 88 90 93 95 98
76 78 81 83 86 88 90 93 95 98
77 79 82 84 86 89 91 93 95 98
78 80 82 85 87 89 91 93 96 98
79 81 83 85 87 90 92 94 96 98
80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98
81 83 85 87 89 91 92 94 96 98
82 84 86 87 89 91 93 95 96 98
83 85 86 88 90 92 93 95 97 98
84 86 87 89 90 92 94 95 97 98
85 87 88 90 91 93 94 96 97 99
86 87 89 90 92 93 94 96 97 99
87 88 90 91 92 94 95 96 97 99
88 89 90 92 93 94 95 96 98 99
89 90 91 92 93 95 96 87 38 99
90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
91 92 93 94 95 96 96 97 98 99
92 93 94 94 95 96 97 98 98 99
93 94 94 95 96 97 97 98 99 99
94 95 95 96 96 97 98 98 99 99

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