2020 VA Service-Connected Disability Compensation Rates

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The 2020 Cost of Living Adjustment for VA disability compensation of 1.6% is the largest COLA increase since 2012. This rate increase followed rate increase of 2.8% in 2019, 2.0% in 2018, 0.3% in 2017, and no rate increase in 2016. The following article explains VA Service Connected Disability Ratings, how VA disability compensation works…

The 2020 Cost of Living Adjustment for VA disability compensation of 1.6% is the largest COLA increase since 2012. This rate increase followed rate increase of 2.8% in 2019, 2.0% in 2018, 0.3% in 2017, and no rate increase in 2016.

The following article explains VA Service Connected Disability Ratings, how VA disability compensation works and shows the 2020 VA Disability Pay Rates, based on the veterans disability rating and the number of dependents.

VA Disability Compensation Benefits Pay Rates
Find the updated VA Disability Compensation Benefits Pay Rates

Current VA Disability Compensation Pay Rates

2020 VA Disability Compensation Rates are effective as of Dec. 1, 2019.

Increases in VA Service-Connected Disability Rates are tied to the same Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) provided by the Social Security Administration. These are the same rates the government uses for determining cost of living increases for Social Security recipients, military retirees, and federal civilian retirees.

2020 VA Disability Compensation Rate Increase – 1.6%. The 1.6% COLA raise in 2020 is more modest compared to the last two years, which came in at 2.8% and 2.0% respectively. However, this is a significant increase over the two preceding COLA adjustments, which came in at 0.3% (2017), and no cost of living increase (2016).

2014 was the first year the VA has included amounts above a flat dollar amount. In previous years, the amount was rounded down to the nearest dollar. This change won’t make a huge difference now, but if this policy remains in place, it will compound over time.

2020 VA Disability Compensation Rates

VA Disability Rating: 10% – 20% (No Dependents)

PercentageRate
10%$142.29
20%$281.27

VA Disability Rating: 30% – 60% Without Children

Dependent Status30%40%50%60%
Veteran Alone$435.69$627.61$893.43$1,131.68
Veteran with Spouse Only$486.69$696.61$979.43$1,234.68
Veteran with Spouse & One Parent$527.69$751.61$1,048.43$1,317.68
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents$568.69$806.61$1,117.43$1,400.68
Veteran with One Parent$476.69$682.61$962.43$1,214.68
Veteran with Two Parents$517.69$737.61$1,031.43$1,297.68
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$48.00$63.00$80.00$96.00

VA Disability Rating: 70% – 100% Without Children

Dependent Status70%80%90%100%
Veteran Alone$1,426.17$1,657.80$1,862.96$3,106.04
Veteran with Spouse Only$1,547.17$1,795.80$2,017.96$3,279.22
Veteran with Spouse and One Parent$1,644.17$1,906.80$2,142.96$3,418.20
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents$1,741.17$2,017.80$2,267.96$3,557.18
Veteran with One Parent$1,523.17$1,768.80$1,987.96$3,245.02
Veteran with Two Parents$1,620.17$1,879.80$2,112.96$3,384.00
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$111.00$127.00$143.00$158.82

VA Disability Rating: 30% – 60% With Children

Dependent Status30%40%50%60%
Veteran with Spouse and Child$525.69$747.61$1,043.43$1,311.68
Veteran with Child Only$469.69$673.61$950.43$1,200.68
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child$566.69$802.61$1,112.43$1,394.68
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child$607.69$857.61$1,181.43$1,477.68
Veteran with One Parent and Child$510.69$728.61$1,019.43$1,283.68
Veteran with Two Parents and Child$551.69$783.61$1,088.43$1,366.68
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18$25.00$34.00$43.00$51.00
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)$83.00$111.00$138.00$166.00
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$48.00$63.00$80.00$96.00

VA Disability Rating: 70% – 100% With Children

Dependent Status70%80%90%100%
Veteran with Spouse and Child$1,636.17$1,897.80$2,132.96$3,406.04
Veteran with Child Only$1,507.17$1,749.80$1,966.96$3,221.85
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child$1,733.17$2,008.80$2,257.96$3,545.02
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child$1,830.17$2,119.80$2,382.96$3,684.00
Veteran with One Parent and Child$1,604.17$1,860.80$2,091.96$3,360.83
Veteran with Two Parents and Child$1,701.17$1,971.80$2,216.96$3,499.81
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18$60.00$68.00$77.00$86.05
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 (see footnote a)$194.00$222.00$250.00$277.96
Additional for A/A spouse (see footnote b)$111.00$127.00$143.00$158.82

About VA Disability Ratings and VA Disability Compensation

If you were injured or became seriously ill while serving in the military, you may be eligible for certain veterans benefits, including VA disability compensation. This benefit is paid to certain military veterans based on illnesses or injuries received while serving on active duty.

Certain veterans may also be eligible for VA health care benefits. To see current VA disability rates, scroll down to the bottom of the article. Keep reading to learn more about VA disability rates, applying for disability compensation, and other facts.

There are many factors that go into determining compensation eligibility and levels, most of which are outside the scope of this article. Treat this article as a primer for VA disability benefits as we show you the VA’s definition of a service-connected disability, where to apply for benefits, and the current VA disability compensation rate tables, as provided by the VA.

What is a Service Connected Disability?

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Disability Compensation is:

a benefit paid to a veteran because of injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, or were made worse by active military service. It is also paid to certain veterans disabled from VA health care. The benefits are tax-free. Source.

If you are considered to have a service-connected disability, then you may be eligible to receive a monthly compensation payment, and under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to receive additional compensation, usually if you have a service-connected rating of 30% or higher and have dependents (spouse, children, and/or parents under your care), if you have missing limbs, or if you have a severely disabled spouse.

Applying for VA Compensation Benefits

Detailed instructions for applying for VA disability benefits are outside the scope of this article, but in general, it is best to supply as much supporting information as possible, including how the injury or illness occurred, any medical treatment you received, current health status, and how your life has been affected by the injury or illness. You will need to fill out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension or apply online using VONAPP. Also, be sure to have a copy of your DD Form 214.

Disability Ratings are Awarded on a Case by Case Basis

The VA rates each disability claim on a case by case basis. The VA first determines whether or not the illness or injury was sustained while the servicemember was in the military, then they assign a rating for each illness or injury. If the VA determines the injury or illness isn’t related to your military service or didn’t happen while you were in the military, they will deny your claim. If the VA approves your claim, they will assign it a rating between 0% – 100%.

A 0% rating shows there is an illness or injury that is connected to your military service, but it doesn’t warrant compensation at this time. It is still good to get a 0% rating compared to no service-connected link because if the condition worsens at a later date, you can apply to have your disability rating upgraded.

Calculating Multiple VA Disability Ratings

Multiple disability ratings are a little tricky to calculate and are beyond the scope of this article. But we’ll give a brief overview. In short, the VA uses a special method for calculating multiple disabilities.

Here is a simplified example:

Example: If you have a 30% disability rating, the VA would multiply that against 100%, which is assumed to be good health. This gives you 30%. Subtract that from 100% which leaves you with 70% (consider this your new starting point for your health rating). Then subtract 70% from 100% and you are left with 30%. If that is your only disability, then your final VA Service-Connected Disability Rating is 30%.

If you have multiple ratings, you continue with the process, using your final number each time as your starting point. Continuing with our example, if your next rating is 10%, you would multiply 10% against 70%, which is 7%. You subtract that from 70%, which leaves you with 63%. Subtract 63% from 100% and you get 37%. Your disability rating is 37%, which rounds up to 40%.

It can get complicated quickly, so I have an in-depth article and podcast that explain how the VA calculates combined disability ratings. I highly recommend reading and/or listening to get a good idea of how the process works!

VA Disability Ratings Are Not Always Permanent

Many disability ratings are temporary and the VA retains the right to reexamine the disability rating at any time. If they wish to reexamine you, you will receive a Notice of Reexamination letter in the mail which will include a scheduled appointment date.

Make sure you attend this appointment or reschedule, as the VA can reduce or terminate your benefits rating if you fail to attend this scheduled appointment. After the VA reexamines your condition(s), they will make a recommendation to increase, decrease, or leave your benefit at its current rating.

There are times when your ratings may be protected, based on the type of disability, how long you have held the rating, your age, or other factors. Here is more information about VA Disability Reexaminations and Benefits Reductions.

A Change in Your Family Status Can Change Your VA Disability Payment

Remember to contact the VA whenever you have a change in family status as your rates may change as well.  If you have a 30% disability rating or higher and you are also supporting qualified dependents such as a spouse, child, or parent, you may be eligible to receive a higher VA disability payment. If your disability rating is 20% or lower, changes in your family status should not affect your VA disability payment rates.

The VA will not know when there is a change in your family status, so you will need to inform them immediately when something changes – such as a birth, wedding, a parent moving in with you, divorce, a child coming of age, or the death of a qualified dependent.

It is always best to inform the VA of a change as soon as possible. However, in some cases, you won’t be able to do so until you have more information (such as when a child is born, as you can’t do anything with the VA until your child has received his or her Social Security Number).

Keep in mind that the VA will sometimes backdate payments to make up for any shortfalls, or in the case of the loss of an eligible dependent, your payment may decrease. On the flip side, the VA can come after overpayments if you failed to notify the VA of a change in family status in a timely manner.

Be sure to contact the VA disability center for more information.

Receive Your Disability Check Faster

When you file your disability claim, be sure to give the VA the routing number to your bank so you can enroll in direct deposits. This is faster and more secure – and a requirement as of March 1, 2013. I recommend using a high yield savings account so you can earn more money on any interest that your money earns.

If you have specific VA benefits-related questions, it is always best to call or visit your regional VA medical center, as they will be able to access your file and answer your specific questions.

You can view the current VA Disability rates here, but for your convenience, we have included them in this article as well.

Who Should I Contact if I Have Questions About My Disability Rating?

There are many organizations that specialize in helping veterans with their benefits and claims.

The first place to start is with the VA. They will have access to your records and other information. This is the best source for current and up to date information.

However, the VA isn’t always the best place to get assistance with your claim, especially if you are filing an appeal after the VA denied your claim.

In that instance, I recommend contacting a veterans benefits counselor at your county VA office, or an organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, VFW, American Legion, or similar Veteran Service Organizations.

These organizations have trained benefits counselors who should be able to review your personal and medical situation and provide a better answer to your question than I can provide.

Alternatively, if you prefer to use the anonymity of the Internet, you can use the Physical Evaluation Board Forum, which offers an excellent community that offers advice on VA disabilities, ratings, and the military medical board process.

If that doesn’t work, you can consider hiring a lawyer that specializes in VA disability claims. I don’t have any specific recommendations for lawyers, so please do your research before hiring a law office to represent you. At the minimum, you will want to ensure they specialize in military law, VA disability claims, social security disability claims, or similar types of law. As with all legal agreements, also make sure you understand the compensation structure.

Please note that while I have a solid understanding of how the VA disability system works, I am unable to answer specific questions regarding one’s VA disability claims or specific medical conditions. These questions should be addressed by the VA, your medical professionals, or a veterans benefits counselor.

Thank you for understanding, and thank you for your service!

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Ryan Guina says

    Thank you for reading this article! Please note that I have closed the comments section on this article. There are over 700 comments on this article – most of which deal with very specific situations. Unfortunately, I am unable to answer specific questions regarding one’s VA disability claims or specific medical conditions.

    The best course of action is to contact a veterans benefits counselor at your county VA office, or an organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, VFW, American Legion, or similar Veteran Service Organizations.

    These organizations have trained benefits counselors who should be able to review your personal and medical situation and provide a better answer to your question than I can provide. Most VSOs offer these services free of charge.

    Alternatively, if you prefer to use the anonymity of the Internet, you can use the Physical Evaluation Board Forum, which offers an excellent community that offers advice on VA disabilities, ratings, and the military medical board process.

    Please use our Contact Form to notify us of any editorial changes that need to be addressed in this article. Please do not send personal questions related to VA disability benefits or reexamination notices. Unfortunately, I will not be able to answer them.

    Thank you for understanding, and thank you for your service!

  2. John says

    A friend of mine has been told by the VA that his Non-Hodgins’s Lymphoma (NHL), due to exposure to Agent Orange-type herbicides while serving in Vietnam, is SC. However, he was given a 0% benefit rating. He is @ 70 yrs. old and is retired. His surgeries and radiation treatment for NHL were completed @ 10 years ago. His VA disability application is about one year old. I thought a SC disability for NHL meant the applicant would be some level of payment benefits. Am I correct? I urged him to appeal the VA’s decision. Thank you.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello John, Your friend should contact the VA for an explanation of benefits. They should send him an award letter explaining his condition, the service-connected disability rating, and what it means. He will also receive a packet explaining his benefits.

      The VA also sends out a form for appealing a decision when they send award letters or make any changes to benefits. So your friend can appeal the decision at any time if he believes an upgrade is warranted. I would recommend he contact his county VA office or a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, VFW, or similar organization. They have trained benefits counselors that can offer free claims assistance.

      As for his specific condition and rating, I don’t have a firm answer. Some ratings can be downgraded or given a 0% rating if or when the underlying medical condition(s) improve. In this instance, you mentioned he had NHL and received treatment 10 years ago. If there are no longer signs of this condition, then the VA may have determined it warrants a 0% rating at the moment. However, this 0% rating also means the VA acknowledges there is a service-connection, which makes it easier to apply for an upgrade if his condition later changes.

      Again, I cannot speak for this specific situation, only the possibility of what may have happened. Your friend should take this up with the VA or a veterans benefits counselor.

      I hope this is helpful. I wish your friend the best of health and I thank you both for your service!

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