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If I asked you the answer to 30 + 20, you would quickly tell me 50. And you would be right in just about every instance. But for veterans with service-connected disability ratings, the math doesn’t always work out quite so easily. In fact, 30 + 20 might only equal 44, which rounds down to 40. Or it might equal 48.4, which rounds up to 50. Confused yet? Welcome to the world of VA Math!

The VA Service-Connected Disability rating system is complex. There are many reasons for this, and that’s a topic best left for another day, and another website. But there is one aspect I would like to address today: the somewhat confusing math used to determine the final service-connected disability rating awarded to veterans. This is the rating used to **determine compensation payments** and access to certain other benefits. It’s enormously important you understand how your rating is determined so you can make sure your benefits are calculated properly. The difference can literally be worth hundreds, or even thousands of dollars a year in compensation payments and other benefits.

Let’s dive in.

## What Do Disability Ratings Represent?

The first thing to understand is what your disability rating represents. In short, the VA takes each individual injury or illness into consideration and gives it a numerical disability rating. Each rating is represented by a percentage divisible by 10 (ex: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, etc.). These disabilities are racked and stacked, then the VA does “VA Math” to determine your overall disability rate. We’ll get to the math later in this article.

A good way to look at this is to consider how the disabilities affect your ability to perform work and daily activities. To do this, the VA takes into account your overall efficiency after the disability or disabilities are considered. Let’s say you are a normal 40 year-old retiree with no major service-connected injuries or illnesses. Your efficiency would be rated at 100%. Now let’s assume you just retired from the military after 20 years of service and had some service-connected disabilities.

For example, let’s say you tweaked your knee while you were deployed and had arthroscopic surgery. You still have some pain and stiffness in that knee and the VA grants you a 10% service-connected disability rating. Assuming this is your only service-connected disability rating, your service-connected disability rating would be 10%. This is determined by looking at your efficiency, which is 90% (efficiency rating of 100, times 10% disability rating = 10%. You subtract 10% from 100% and end up with 90%). The math is simple when you only have one disability rating to consider. We’re going to come back to the math in a moment because it changes dramatically with each new service-connected rating we consider.

**More than one disability rating?** Each injury or illness is rated by itself, without consideration of other illnesses or injuries, unless they contribute to further injuries. We will also need to take into consideration whether or not the injuries are bilateral, which means they affect limbs on both sides of the body (for example, disabilities on both arms, or both legs). All of your disability ratings are listed in descending order, then the VA math begins.

## How the VA Rates Multiple Disabilities

The above example covers the most basic situation – a single disability rating. In the previous example, it seems like you can just subtract the 10% from 100% and come up with 90%. But notice that we didn’t do the math that way. Things get more interesting when you have more disability ratings. Let’s run through an example, building on the previous profile.

**Example profile:** We’re going to stay with our example of a 40 year old military retiree. Above we said he had a disability in his knee. Let’s add a few conditions and do some math.

**Let’s say our retiree has the following service-connected disability ratings:**

- 30% rating for a back injury,
- 20% rating for right shoulder injury,
- 10% rating for his right knee, and
- 10% for hearing loss.

**Now for the math:** The VA uses a descending efficiency scale for its calculations. The VA will rate each injury or illness, giving each a numerical rating. When it comes time to determine the overall rating, the VA will start with the highest rating, then work its way down. You start with an efficiency rating of 100, then work your way down. Each new disability gives you a new baseline.

We start by racking and stacking the disabilities. In the example above, we have ratings of 30%, 20%, 10%, and 10%. We start with the 30%, then factor in the 20%, the 10%, then the final 10%. Again, we aren’t subtracting here, we’re doing VA math. At the bottom of this article is the VA Combined Ratings Table, which we will use to complete our calculations (you may find it easier to open this article in two browser tabs so you can follow along, or download and print the Combined Ratings Table, which we have a link to).

We start with the 30% disability. Look at the Combined Ratings Table and scroll down the left column until you find the number 30. Then go to the right column until you find the 20. The 30 and 20 combine for 44. If those are your only two ratings, you would have a 44% Va service-connected disability rating, which would round down to 40%. But we’re not done. We still have to add two 10% ratings.

Start on the left column again. This time, you will look for the 44 in the left column. Then find the intersection point with the 44 and 10. Your new rating is 50%. Repeat this one more time, starting with 50, and meeting up with 10. Your new combined rating is 55%, which rounds up to 60%.

**How does this add up?** Again, we aren’t doing normal subtraction here. We are doing VA math. You start with your efficiency rate of 100, multiple it by your disability rating, then subtract the result from your original rating. In this case, you would multiple 30% times 100, and get 30. You subtract that from 100 and come up with 70. Your new efficiency rating is 70 and your disability rating is 30. This is the starting point for the next calculation. You repeat the process for the next rating. You take 20%, multiply it by 70, and come up with 14. You subtract 14 from 70, and you get 56. Your new efficiency rating is 56, and your disability rating is 44. You repeat the process for each additional disability rating.

The math can be a bit confusing if you try to do it manually. The best thing to do is use the VA Combined Ratings Table, which does the math for you.

## How Bilateral Disabilities Affect Your Rating

There is one more issue we need to consider – the bilateral factor. The bilateral factor can have a big impact on your rating, so don’t dismiss it.

**What is the Bilateral Factor?** The bilateral factor is considered when the veteran has disabilities on both limbs (for example, both arms, or both legs, or of paired skeletal muscles). The disabilities don’t have to mirror each other. For example, they don’t need to occur on both knees to be considered bilateral. A left foot disability and a right knee disability satisfies the requirement they injuries be on both legs.

With the bilateral factor, the VA combines two or or more ratings, adds a bilateral factor to the outcome, and considers them as one rating when using the Combined Ratings Table (found below). It’s best if I quote the regulations the VA uses, then we’ll use this in an example:

§4.26 Bilateral factor (Source).When a partial disability results from disease or injury of both arms, or of both legs, or of paired skeletal muscles, the ratings for the disabilities of the right and left sides will be combined as usual, and 10 percent of this value will be added (i.e., not combined) before proceeding with further combinations, or converting to degree of disability. The bilateral factor will be applied to such bilateral disabilities before other combinations are carried out and the rating for such disabilities including the bilateral factor in this section will be treated as 1 disability for the purpose of arranging in order of severity and for all further combinations. For example, with disabilities evaluated at 60 percent, 20 percent, 10 percent and 10 percent (the two 10’s representing bilateral disabilities), the order of severity would be 60, 21 and 20. The 60 and 21 combine to 68 percent and the 68 and 20 to 74 percent, converted to 70 percent as the final degree of disability.

(a) The use of the terms “arms” and “legs” is not intended to distinguish between the arm, forearm and hand, or the thigh, leg, and foot, but relates to the upper extremities and lower extremities as a whole. Thus with a compensable disability of the right thigh, for example, amputation, and one of the left foot, for example, pes planus, the bilateral factor applies, and similarly whenever there are compensable disabilities affecting use of paired extremities regardless of location or specified type of impairment.

(b) The correct procedure when applying the bilateral factor to disabilities affecting both upper extremities and both lower extremities is to combine the ratings of the disabilities affecting the 4 extremities in the order of their individual severity and apply the bilateral factor by adding, not combining, 10 percent of the combined value thus attained.

(c) The bilateral factor is not applicable unless there is partial disability of compensable degree in each of 2 paired extremities, or paired skeletal muscles.

## Example using the Bilateral Factor

Let’s stick with the example profile from above, but let’s add another knee disability, one on each leg. This would qualify for the bilateral factor. The disability rating for each knee was 10%, but when combined, they equal 21%, according to the VA’s Combined Rating Table. Here is how we apply the bilateral factor:

Bilateral Factor Applied:A 10% disability combined with another 10% disability = 19%,

Then you add 10% of 19, or 1.9%.

19% + 1.9% = 20.9%, which rounds up to 21%.

The combined rating for both knees is now 21%, and the VA will use 21% as the rating for those disabilities. It is possible to have more than two disabilities combined in the bilateral factor.

**New example with Bilateral Factor:** We’ll stick with the previous example, but add the other knee injury and see how it affects the final outcome. Let’s say our retiree has the following service-connected disability ratings:

- 30% rating for a back injury,
- 21% (10% rating for his left knee, and 10% rating for his right knee, with bilateral factor applied),
- 20% rating for right shoulder injury, and
- 10% for hearing loss.

Using the Combined Rating Table, we start with the 21% and the 30%. This takes us to 45. Follow the left column down to 45 and find where it intersects with 20. You get 56. Repeat the process for 56 and 10, and you get 60. This overall service-connected disability rating for this veteran is exactly 60%.

The previous example was 55%, rounded up to 60%, and this example was exactly 60%. As your disability percentage increases, it takes more disabilities with higher ratings to move the needle. This is the impact of the math the VA uses to determine disability ratings. Here is **another example using a bilateral factor**.

## VA Combined Ratings Table

The VA Combined Ratings Table is where all the math magic happens.

**Instructions:** List all disabilities in descending order. Start with the highest disability rating, find it in the left column, and find the intersecting point with the next highest disability rating. This is your combined rating for these two disabilities. If these are your only two disabilities, you can round to the nearest number divisible by 10 (anything 4.9 and lower are rounded down; 5 and higher are rounded up). Repeat this process until you have run the numbers for all disability ratings.

(Article continues below table):

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 |

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 | 97 | 98 | 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 |

**Source: 38 CFR 4.25 – Combined ratings table. Downloadable PDF: **You can download this table here (

**Online VA Disability Ratings Calculator:** It’s great to know how to use the Combined Ratings Table so you can verify your disability rating for yourself. But it’s also nice to be able to use a calculator that takes all of these factors into consideration. Here is a **great online calculator that will help you determine your disability rating**. This calculator seems accurate for the most part. However, it doesn’t seem to account for the bilateral factor. So you may wish to use the Combined Ratings Table to determine your overall rating if you have bilateral disabilities.

**Summary:** VA Math can seem confusing at first. But it makes sense when you take some time to run the numbers. When in doubt, use the Combined Ratings Table to do the math for you. If you have further questions about your specific case, then I recommend contacting the VA for clarification, or contacting a Veterans Service Officer at a **Veterans Service Organization**. VSO’s will help you with your claim free of charge.

Oh, and as for the examples with the 30 + 20: The combined ratings table shows us two disabilities rated at 30 and 20 equal 44%. This rounds down to 40% disability rating. If you apply the bilateral factor to disability ratings of 30 and 20, you would get 48.4% (44% + 4.4%). This rounds up to 50%.

Doug @ The-Military-Guide says

Great post, Ryan– thanks for demystifying the numbers!

I started my VA claim last month, and it looks a lot like your example– bilateral knee damage and hearing loss. Now I finally understand how the numbers add up, and I can focus on documenting everything. I’ll keep you posted…

Ryan Guina says

Best of luck with your disability claim, Doug. It’s definitely a good idea to utilize the assistance of a Veterans Service Officer at a VSO. They offer free VA benefits claims assistance. The system can be difficult to navigate, even if you know what you are doing. So having someone double check your claim is highly recommended. I’m sure you’ll have some great information to share after going through the claims process!

stanislaw schab says

Hey, I am lite confused because my overall rating is 80% with 2 disabilities rated 90% and 30%. It doesn’t quite match up your rating table. Could you please explain how is that possible. …

Ryan Guina says

Stanislaw, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer here. The chart used on my site was taken from VA sources, so that should be how it is calculated. I recommend speaking with someone at the VA, or from a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV.

Mutschler says

Thats because you have 90% out of 100% leaving you with 10%

10 – 30% would give you 3 your Total is 93% so the VA rounds down to 90%

Andrew McKeown says

Hey Ryan, nice job explaining the intricacies of VA Math! You nailed it, my friend! A few months ago a created a mobile app called “VetCalc” that performs VA Math calculations including bilateral factor inputs. VetCalc also provides an estimated monthly payment based on any unique dependency situation. It can be purchased on both Apple and Android platforms for just 99 cents. From my experience, Veterans often overlook the importance of making sure the VA Math on their claim is correct, especially when the bilateral factor is involved. I provide several examples of the impact of erroneous VA Math at my website http://www.VetCalc.com Again really nice job on the article! Regards Andrew McKeown

Andrew Thompson says

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone….oh wait, still foggy. Anyway. I recently discovered that the VA bumped my S/C hearing loss of 0% to 10%…back in 2006. I was already at 40%, and there was no increase in my compensation. The afformentioned and explained chart shows 40 + 10 = 46% which rounds to 50. Is my fuzzy math correct? I have asked several VA employees and they had no explaination. I understood your math breakdown, but this isn’t a case of the 10 being added in during the initial rating phase.

Ryan Guina says

Andrew, Thank you for contacting me. A 40 + a 10 would be 46, which rounds up to 50. But was your rating exactly 40? Or did you have several different ratings that added up to 40 after rounding?

When the VA adds another rating, they won’t start with your last score. They will group the new rating in with all the old ratings.

For example, say you had a 36. That would round up to a 40. If you add another 10% disability rating to that, you don’t start with 40, you start with the 36. A rating of 36 + a rating of 10 = 42, which rounds down to 40.

Does this sound like it might apply to your situation?

randy says

Depends on if your 40% was for one condition meaning.

Back 30%

eye 10% = 37%

now add 10% for ear would be 6% plus 37% = 43% round down to 40%

Andrew Thompson says

Ryan,

I had forgotten that originally I started out at 30%. Which was 3 10s combined for a 27, rounding to 30. Then 18 months later they gave 10% for bilateral knee syndrome. That brought it up to 34(from 27…) and then 10% of that again takes it to 37.4%. Which brings it up to 40%. And the missing 10%(or so I originally thought) only takes it to 43%. Which leaves me at the grand total of…40%. Now I see the light, but it’s kinda dim and not shining on me. Anyway, I’m in the middle of upgrade/secondary claims process, and 2 more the file after these play out. I’m going down the only road I’ve ever known…all by myself. Every time I muster up the courage to speak to a VSO I get waylaid by anxiety and then I get too afraid of rocking the boat and losing what I do have.

Thanks for replying so quickly. I appreciate it very much.

Semper Fi.

Andrew says

Ryan,

I have a interesting question for you. One of the doctors involved with my C&P appointments called me the other day. She was giving me the results of an MRI. She told me what she saw, clear as day, no doubt about it. She then told me she went back through my VA medical history, and then my Active Duty medical history. She found X-rays from the AD time frame that showed the early stages of Degenerative Disc Disease. The X-rays were from 1998. She also noted that the original C&P finding was written up as low back strain, and rated 10%. She told me that this was clearly incorrect and is going to correct that original finding and note in my records as such. She said that this will change my original rating code and % as well. Can I expect a backcheck for the difference going back to 1998, or what? Thanks for your time.

Andrew

Semper Fi.

Kenneth Droddy says

I still don’t undrestand how I am at at 80%. I have had five back sugerys they are service conected and the VA botched one sugery which made me lose the function of one of my legs. They had me at 80% before the last two sugerys.

JC says

Ryan,

You seem to have a good grasp on how disability benefits are calculated. I have yet to get a clear answer, so I figured I would ask you….

I currently have a 40% disability rating (Spine Range of Motion), but there were a number of items the VA overlooked that I had submitted on, which are in the appeal process now. All of the issues stem from my original back issue (compression fractures).

Say I receive another 20% for the sciatica that’s root cause was due to the back fractures I’m rated 40% for, would my rating be 60% or do they look at this as separate conditions and use VA math to get to 52%?

I appreciate your help with this.

Ryan Guina says

JC, Thank you for contacting me. I’m sorry, but I’m not 100% certain how the VA would rate this. I believe the VA would consider it two different ratings, in which case it would be a 40% and a 20%. I believe each specific condition is rated on its own merits, and isn’t added to other ratings to make a higher rating. Again, I’m not 100% certain, this is only based on my understanding. I would ask the VA for further clarification, or consult with a benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization.

Andrew McKeown says

Hey Ryan, I contacted you awhile back and was wondering if you had the chance to check out VetCalc. I just wanted to update you and tell it is now totally free to download. Your analytics are no doubt more robust than mine, but I would be willing to either pay you for a link on this page (www.VetCalc.com) or blog about your site. Let me know. Great job on the post.

Regards

Andrew

James says

Sir,

Just curious. If I get rated at 95% then from what I understand the VA will pay me at the 100% rate. Basically, 95% is round up to 100%?

respectfully,

James

Ryan Guina says

James, The VA only awards ratings in 10% increments, and will round to the nearest 10. Anything that ends in a 4 or lower rounds down, and any number that ends in a 5 or higher rounds up. So if your combined rating comes out to 95, I believe it should round to 100%.

cathrine says

I used a spreadsheet calculator that calculated them at 94.6 would that be rounded up to 95 or down to 90? ratings would be 60%, 30%, 20%, 20% and 10%.

Ryan Guina says

Cathrine, Thank you for contacting me. I believe the VA rounds from the actual number, to the closest 10. So 94.6 would round down to 90. They don’t round to 95, then round again to 100. You would need a combined disability rating of at least 95% to have it round up to 100%. I hope this answers your question.

ronald jones says

i have 70% rating now for ptsd and i have a claim in for sleep apena for which i have been issued a capac machaine what would be my new rating if approved by the va

Ryan Guina says

Ronald, Thank you for contacting me. The answer depends on what the rating is for sleep apnea. The best way to get a good idea is to use the chart referenced in the article and plugging in the numbers for your current rating, and the possible rating you might receive. That’s the only way to get a good idea.

randy says

90%

Victor says

Randy,

Assuming that the VA awards you 50% for Sleep Apnea (CPAP), then your combined rating would be 85, pushing you to 90% disability.

So yes, you are correct.

Victor

Arthur Adair says

Ryan, I started out at 30%(10,10+10) in 1969, I have shrapnel in left calf and shrapnel in right foot,also had broken right wrist and shrapnel due to land mine.

Does the to different legs wounds call for a(bilateral) rating?. and how would that effect me. Now to today, I have 50 PTSD, 30 for right wrist,10 for left leg,10 for right foot and 10 for something else?(I’m trying to look for what the other 10 is for), I’m being paid at the 100% rate do to unemployability, and I also get K award(loss of organ extremities(about $103.00 for the K award).

Ryan after all of this writing, how would the (Bilateral) rating effect my comp all these years of increases from 30% to my 110% now. Thank you. Artie A

Ryan Guina says

Arthur, Thank you for contacting me. I believe this would qualify for bilateral disability, but I’m not sure it would affect your rating since you are already receiving 100% due to unemployability. To see if this would affect your rating, you would need to use the chart using the following numbers:

50% + 30% + 21% (bilateral for both 10% ratings for legs = 20.9%, which rounds up to 21%) + 10%

50% + 30% = 65%

65% + 21% = 73%

73% + 10+ = 76%

76% + 10% = 78%, which rounds up to 80%

Keep in mind, this is an unofficial estimate – the VA provides the final rating. But this is based on their table and should be fairly accurate.

It seems like the 100% rating for being unemployable is the better value. Your other ratings would need to be higher to receive the 100% schedular rating (rating based purely on the table, not on employability). I hope this helps. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

Janelle Wolves says

This is very nteresting and thanks for explaining VA magic math. Do you know how they actually determine the dollar amounts? Say for example, at 90% disability rating, you current draw $1743.48. This is 60% of the 100% amount (this is just the numbers for a single veteran). For example, 1743.48 divided by 2906.83 = .5997. If I calculate 90% of the full amount, that is 2906.83 * 90% = 2616.15. So how is it that a 90% disability rating gets only 60% of the full amount?

Ryan Guina says

Hello Janelle, Thank you for contacting me. To be honest, I haven’t read any official explanation regarding how the monetary compensation is determined. I do know that disability compensation is intended to compensate those who cannot work, based on the percentage of their disability – meaning, someone who is considered 90% disabled still has a 10% capacity to work. That said, all disabilities are different, and some people can still perform work at various ratings, while others may find it difficult, or impossible.

The VA does have the ability to grant people a 100% rating if they are unemployable, even if their rating is less than 100% (this is the 100% Individual Unemployability, or IU rating). Veterans should speak to a veterans benefits counselor to learn more about this, and to see if they may be eligible for this rating. There are strict rules about who can receive this rating, and veterans under a 100% IU rating cannot maintain substantial gainful employment, or they can risk losing the 100% IU rating, and will revert back to their previous rating. I hope this is helpful. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

Joe says

Ron I have 3 0% service contacted disability ratings. I have had them since 2006. I was unaware that multiple 0% can qualify me for a bump to 10% disability. Is there a way I can go about receiving that adjustment upwards or has the va already decided and that’s why I never received a 10% rating. Thanks

Ryan Guina says

Hello Joe, Thank you for contacting me. Here is the reference in the US Code:

§ 3.324 Multiple noncompensable service-connected disabilities.Whenever a veteran is suffering from two or more separate permanent service-connected disabilities of such character as clearly to interfere with normal employability, even though none of the disabilities may be of compensable degree under the 1945 Schedule for Rating Disabilities the rating agency is authorized to apply a 10-percent rating, but not in combination with any other rating.I read this as that the conditions must interfere with employability. So I believe you need to show how these conditions affect your ability to work in the career you are, or were, trained to do. You will likely need to file an appeal for this. I recommend speaking with a veterans benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization, such as the DAV, AMVETS, etc. They offer free benefits claims assistance. I hope this points you in the right direction. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

demel acklin says

my rating was already 50% i was given another 30% for another claim my final rating was 60% how

Charles says

So how would secondary conditions affect the combined rating, or do they affect the numbers at all? I’m 70% overall with ratings of 40%, 20%, and 10% for both ankles. But I also have 10% for numbness in my right leg from my lowe back rating of 40% and then I have a 20% secondary rating for degenerative arthritis related to my right shoulder rating of 20%. I’m just trying to see does secondary conditions move the needle at all.

Victor says

Charles,

Remember that a doctor needs for first diagnose your condition and must suggest a nexus for secondary conditions with new and material medical evidence. Without that, you will never be service connected.

ALSO, your primary service connected condition will also be RE-EVALUATED. Make sure that you have new and material medical evidence proving that the condition is still an issue.

Victor

Gregory says

I have read your article and understand the process of calculating the disability rating. Having said that, my rating was calculated incorrectly. Who should I contact to have it corrected?

Ryan Guina says

Hello Gregory, Thank you for contacting me. You should contact the VA and ask them to review your case. They should be able to explain your current rating, or make the changes accordingly. You may also find it helpful to speak with a benefits counselor at an organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, VFW, etc. I hope this points you in the right direction. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

Victor says

Gregory,

What exactly do you mean that your rating were calculated incorrectly? Do you mean that you disagree with the rating for the condition or that the combined rating is incorrect?

The reason I ask is because the VA’s combined ratings are calculated by computer and is very hard to dispute.

In the case that you disagree with the rating decision, if you haven’t already you may need to submit a Notice of Disagreement to the VA and submit new and material evidence suggesting a higher rating.

Victor

Rich says

Missed this thread and posted the same thing. So, if the VA is using a calculator now instead of the old VA math chart, shouldn’t they make that available to us, so we can see the numbers too, like with the old math chart?

Thanks everyone!

Rich

Nazem Elmasri says

I am on disability social security for bipolar disorder, and I am on medication for that , I also have a VA 10% disability for partial hearing loss, but now 2 years after being diagnosed with the hearing loss, I have osteoarthritis, diabetes,not on any medications for that and prostate problems on two medications for that

…I am receiving all that from the VA hospital and clinic…Do you guys think that I am more than 10% disabled according to VA standards…I mean I volunteer where I live at the front desk as well a a dishwasher, will be attending college part time and can walk a lot but I am in pain most of the time.

Victor says

Nazem,

Have you been treated for any of those diagnosed conditions you stated while in military service? Or, did you complain about any of those conditions while in service but was never diagnosed?

Unfortunately, what some Veterans fail to understand is that the VA clinics/hospitals will diagnose and treat you for any condition that you may have however it does not mean that you will be service-connected. Unless there are presumptive conditions, for example like being exposed to tactical herbicides (Agent Orange) during Vietnam, in most cases the conditions would have to have manifested themselves while in service and documented in your service treatment records.

If you don’t have your service treatment records, try ordering them from the National Personnel Records Center to review them. Or better yet, visit your nearest Veteran County Service Representative or nationally accredited VA Rep like the VFW, AMVET’s, American Legion, etc.

Victor

Joel says

I have a combined rating of 70%. I have 10% Lower back strain. I have 10% radiculopathy, left lower extremity as a Secondary condition. 50% Tension headaches. 10% Tinnitus. 10% Chronic Thoracolumbar Strain, left side IVDS. 10% Mild Right Sciatic Radiculopathy as a secondary condition and 20% Moderate left sciatic radiculopathy as another secondary condition. So I added the following.

50% + 20%= 60%

60% + 10%= 64%

64% + 10%= 68%

68% + 10%= 71%

71% + 10%= 74%

74% + 10%= 77%

Maybe I am doing something wrong but shouldn’t this be rounded up to 80% or do secondary conditions count for a lower percentage. all these numbers are coming straight from ebenefits.

Ryan Guina says

Hello Joel, Thank you for contacting me. Your math looks right to me. I’m not sure why the VA is showing a combined rating of 70%. I’m not familiar with how the secondary conditions are calculated, so perhaps that is the case. I recommend contacting the VA to inquire, or contacting a veterans benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, etc. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

Victor says

Joel,

Congratulations on your rating. All conditions are calculated according to the VA’s rating system. When you add “bilateral” conditions, they are actually worth more due to the fact that they are much more limiting to the Veteran.

However, you might want to re-check your percentages again against your award letter. The VA is very good at calculating the combined ratings as they are automated.

If you have a combined rating of 70%, then you are adding 1 too many 10%’s. And, IF I understand you correctly you have:

50% = Tension Headaches

20% = LEFT SIDE RADICULOPATHY OF THE SCIATIC NERVE (LEG) ?

10% = Chronic Thoracolumbar Strain

10% = Right Sciatic Radiculopathy (leg)

10% = Lower Back Strain

10% = RADICULOPATHY OF THE LOWER LEFT EXTREMITY (LEG) ?

10% = Tinnitus

I am somewhat confused? You were rated 10% in the same extremity for the same condition? Let me know.

Hector Cuellar says

I my VA ratings are as follows 70% 40% 20% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10%. What would be my VA rating?

Robbie Clark says

Does BI-Lateral Tinitus (ringing in both ears) qualify for the bi-lateral 10% + 10% = 19% x 10% = 1.9% then 19% + 1.9 % = 21%? This may help me make 100%

Ryan Guina says

Hello Robbie, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, tinnitus is only a 10% rating, regardless of whether it is present in one ear or both ears. It is not a separate rating for each ear.

Sam Longwell says

I have several injuries. 1. Hearing Loss 2. Right and left knee injuries. One has been replaced with a metal knee. The other needs to be replaced as well. 3. Achilles Tendon was torn off and had to be re-attached. Still has pain. What would be my percentage? And, the percentage is a percentage of VA, Military pay or what?

Thanks

Dorothy Laska says

R shoulder is 60%, L shoulder is 20%

60% + 8% = 68%. Bilateral = 6.8%

68% + 6.8% = 74.8% which is rounded to 75%

Total combined rating is 80%

Am I figuring this correctly?

Cecilio A Perez says

Confirm for me that I’m doing this correctly;

70% depression

60% shoulders (30% Right shoulder + 30% Left shoulder=51%. add bilateral factor of 5.1 and the result is 56.1 which rounds up to 60%)

40% back

20% knees

10% tinnitus

All added is a 95% rating (which rounds up to 100%)

Michael bennett says

Ok I have 90%

70% PTSD

40% Lumbar Strain

30% Cervical Strain

Secondary

10% Left Lower

10% Right Lower extremities

Do secondaries Lower my ratings?

Rich says

Hi Ryan,

Great article. I just submitted a letter to the VA asking them to refigure my disability rating. Under disabilities in eBenefits the %s listed eqaul 95 using the VA math chart, but they have me at 90%. I called the VA yesterday to confirm they received my fax and the individual on the phone said let me figure it up real quick as we have a calculator. She did and said she still came up with 90%. Is the VA using a calculator nowadays or still using the old math chart? Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Regards,

Rich

Ryan Guina says

Thank you, Rich. The VA plugs the numbers into a computer program that calculates the percentages. I recommend contacting a veterans service organization such as the DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc. if you have specific questions. They have trained counselors that can help you with your claim.

Francisco Dezra says

Thank you for sharing your knowledge, please help me with this. I’m currently rated with bilateral low extremity radiculopathy at 10% each leg. If I’m awarded 20% rating for both knees on my current disability claim, what would my total rating be for all my bilateral conditions factoring in the bilateral factor considering all 4 parts are located at low extremity?

Ryan Guina says

Hello Francisco, Thank you for contacting me. There isn’t enough information in your question to give you an answer. Also, I can’t predict anyone’s disability rating because there are too many unknown factors to consider. I recommend using a disability calculator that you can find online or using the table to run different scenarios based on what some of the disability ratings may be. You can also contact a veterans service organization to get personalized assistance. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

Jay Cunningham says

FYI, the order of severity is irrelevant. The math is still the same. Great information, thanks for sharing.