When it comes to service connected compensation claims, the VA takes the view that it should not add whole numbers together to get your rating but, instead, the VA takes percentages of percentages. It is as if the VA says if you are 10 percent disabled then you are 90 percent healthy. Therefore, the next rating is not added but is used to take a percentage of the ‘healthy’ 90 percent.
So for a veteran with two 10 ratings the first 10 percent rating would be 10 percent of 100, which is 10 percent. The second 10 percent rating would be 10 percent of the 90 percent (again the ‘healthy’ percent of the veteran), which is 9 percent. So the combined rating would be 19 percent. The percentages are all rounded up or down to the nearest 10 percent. Here, the rating would be rounded to 20 percent.
The combined rating system starts to work against a veteran when he gets closer to 100 percent. It gets harder and harder to get that higher rating, especially once a veteran is over 50 percent.
For instance, if a veteran has two ratings of 50 percent and two of 20 percent the combined rating is 80 percent. So even though 50+50+20+20 equals 140 in real math; it is only 80 in VA math. The difference that it leads to in compensation is huge.
According to the VA compensation rating table, a veteran, with no dependents, rated at 80 percent would receive $1,551.48 per month. A single veteran rated at 100 percent, on the other hand, would receive $2,903.83 per month. This veteran receiving a rating of 100 percent, which is only 20 percent greater than the 80 percent rating, gets almost 100 percent more money a month!
There are other factors that make the ratings change too. For example, if a veteran has a rating on each leg or each arm then those ratings are combined together and give the overall combined rating an extra boost. Also, if a veteran has too many ratings on one arm or leg then VA stops counting those ratings.
Further, a veteran can step up to 100 percent through total disability due to individual unemployability. That veteran must show that he cannot work and that he meets a certain rating. (Source: Veteran News Now | Matt Hill | June 17, 2016)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veterans updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.