Understanding VA Disability Pay Rates - A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding VA Disability Pay Rates – A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding VA disability pay rates is essential for veterans filing for compensation benefits. Learn more about how the VA establishes ratings and how these ratings impact monthly payments.

After a veteran files a claim, the VA conducts a medical exam to determine the severity and service connection of the condition. Once that process is complete, the VA assigns a rating for each condition.

How They’re Determined

Each year, the VA updates its disability compensation rates to align with the Social Security Administration’s cost of living increase (COLA). This helps keep veterans’ benefits adjusted for inflation. You can find current and historical rates on the VA official site.

To determine your disability rating, the VA reviews the severity of your symptoms and how they affect your daily activities and employability. It also looks at your medical history, private medical records, and any other evidence you submit with your claim.

If you have multiple conditions, the VA combines them to calculate your final disability rating. They do this by arranging your disabilities in order of severity, finding the intersection on their combined rating table, and then rounding that figure to the nearest 10%. You can read more about how the VA calculates multiple disability ratings online on combining disabilities.

Combined Ratings

If a veteran has multiple disabilities that are service-connected and secondarily connected through one of their established conditions, they may be eligible for a combined disability rating. 

Now, the VA disability pay rates vary depending on the severity of a veteran’s service-connected disabilities, with higher rates allocated to those with more severe impairments to ensure adequate compensation for their sacrifices.

This is not just added together like 50 + 50 equals 100 but rather a method of combining disabling conditions linearly as they rank by severity.

To do this, the VA uses a combined rating table. They start with the highest overall rating and work down. So if the first rating is, say, 70% for PTSD, then their next rating is 50% for Sleep Apnea, and the third is 10% for hearing loss.

So, to figure out the total for the combination of those three ratings, VA takes their first number, which was 70%, and finds it on the left side of the chart, and where that row and column intersect, that is your total combined rating. Then, they take that number, multiply it by the next highest rating, and add it.

Increased Pay Rates

Each disability the VA recognizes gets assigned a percentage rating. A higher percentage indicates a severe disability that has more of an impact on your life and ability to work. If you have multiple disabilities, each is given its percentage, and the total is calculated using a specific formula that looks at symptoms, severity, and combined ratings.

Veterans with a 30% or higher disability rating receive additional monthly compensation. This amount is determined based on the severity of your disabilities, the types of disability, and how many dependents you have. If you have a 30% disability rating or higher, you should contact the VA if you have changes to your family size, as this could affect your benefits.

Some veterans with severe disabilities may also qualify for an individualized unemployability (TDIU) rating, which can result in higher disability payments than the standard ratings. However, TDIU ratings aren’t automatic and must be requested by the veteran.


Suppose VA officials deny your disability benefits or you don’t agree with their rating decision. In that case, you have one year from the date of the Notification Letter, including the Rating Decision, to file a Request for Review (VA Form 10182). In general, it’s best only to submit new evidence. Adding more evidence to your appeal may lengthen the time the Board of Veterans Appeals takes to review it, which currently averages 550 days (1.5 years).

It’s important to keep the VA updated on any changes in your family status, such as a divorce, the death of a qualified dependent, or a birth, marriage, or adoption. This can help you avoid any backdate issues with your monthly payments. It also helps ensure that you receive the maximum possible disability compensation benefit. A skilled VA disability benefits attorney can help you navigate the complicated appeals process and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

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