How Does the Department of Veteran Affairs Determine Disability Rates?

May 7th 2016

Disability benefits are calculated and determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs based on the severity of a disability that is connected to military service. Veterans receive compensation to make up for lost earning capacity due to injuries or illnesses as a result of service to the country. Veterans benefits are designed to ensure those who have served maintain access to food, shelter and health care services.

Determining Eligibility

Veterans must apply for disability benefits and compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Once it is determined that the disability was a result of service to the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs rates the severity of the disability and determines how much the disability impairs the veteran's ability to work. Less severe disabilities typically receive lower ratings, which impacts the amount of compensation a veteran receives monthly. The Department of Veterans Affairs considers the impact of the disability on the ability to work in civilian occupations and issues ratings that range from 0 to 100 percent.

Calculating Disability Rates

The Department of Veterans Affairs issues ratings after evaluating evidence of medical conditions submitted by the applicant. For example, veterans have to provide proof of injury, medical records of treatments for injuries or illnesses, and information about family status. Military records detailing branch of service, positions held while on active duty and deployments are evaluated as well.

The Department of Veterans Affairs breaks down illnesses or injuries into categories with weighted percentages assigned. Each category contains a list of ailments that must be present to be eligible for disability. For example, if the veteran has abdominal conditions, he may qualify for benefits. The Veterans Affairs office determines how severely the ailment prohibits the veteran from obtaining employment and then rates the ailment as mild, moderate, moderately severe or severe. Severe ratings receive higher percentages.

Considering Additional Factors

The Department of Veterans Affairs increases the disability rating if exceptions apply. For example, veterans with a spouse, children or dependent parent to support may be offered additional compensation and benefits. Ratings increase if the veteran has a disabled spouse, has lost a limb or possesses a severe disability.

Cost of Living Adjustments are periodically included in disability ratings so veterans are not affected by inflation. The Department of Veterans Affairs uses the same cost of living adjustment rates as the Social Security Administration.

Disability benefits are designed to provide financial support and access to medical care to improve the injured veteran's well-being as a civilian. The Department of Veterans Affairs evaluates service and medical records before assigning a disability rating.

Sources

benefits.va.gov "Compensation: Benefit Rates" http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp
nolo.com "How Does the VA Rate and Pay Veterans Disabilities?" http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-does-the-va-rate-pay-veterans-disabilities.html
socialsecurity.gov "" http://www.socialsecurity.gov/news/cola/

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