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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 VA 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 VA Combined Rating 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).

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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: VA Combined Rating Table

note: 10 combined with 10 is 19

 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
cont’d
 102030405060708090
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
89909192939596873899
90919293949596979899
91929394959696979899
92939494959697989899
93949495969797989999
94959596969798989999

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