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  • Writer's pictureVeteran Disability (VADA)

How the VA Calculates Your Combined Disability Rating

Updated: 1 hour ago

Understanding how the VA calculates your combined disability rating can be confusing for many veterans. The combined rating is crucial as it determines the amount of monthly compensation you receive. Unlike simply adding up individual ratings, the VA uses a specific method called the "Whole Person Theory" to ensure the combined rating does not exceed 100%. Here’s a detailed explanation of how this process works.

The Whole Person Theory

The VA uses the Whole Person Theory to calculate combined disability ratings. This method states that a person cannot be more than 100% disabled. The VA starts with the most severe disability rating and then combines additional ratings to reflect the cumulative impact on overall health and ability to function.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. List Disabilities by Severity: Arrange your service-connected disabilities in order of severity, starting with the highest rating.

  2. Combine Ratings: Begin with the highest rating. Each subsequent rating is applied to the remaining "whole person" (the percentage of the person not already considered disabled). For example, if the highest rating is 50%, the veteran is considered 50% disabled and 50% non-disabled (the whole person). If the next rating is 30%, it is applied to the remaining 50% non-disabled portion.

  3. Calculation: Use the formula: Here’s how it works with an example: Calculation: The combined rating is then rounded to the nearest 10%, resulting in a 70% combined rating.

  • Combined Rating = Highest Rating + (Next Highest Rating x Remaining Percentage)

  1. Repeat for Additional Disabilities: Continue this process for each additional disability rating, always applying the new rating to the remaining non-disabled portion.

Example Calculation

Let's say a veteran has three service-connected disabilities rated at 50%, 30%, and 20%.

  1. Start with the highest rating: 50%.

  2. Apply the next highest rating:

  • 50% + (30% of the remaining 50%) = 50% + 15% = 65% (rounded to 70%).

  1. Apply the third rating:

  • 70% + (20% of the remaining 30%) = 70% + 6% = 76% (rounded to 80%).

The combined rating in this example would be 80%.

Using the Combined Ratings Table

The VA provides a Combined Ratings Table to simplify this process. This table allows you to look up the combined rating without performing the calculations manually.

Importance of the Combined Rating

Your combined disability rating determines the amount of monthly compensation you receive and your eligibility for additional benefits. Understanding how this rating is calculated helps you better navigate the VA claims process and ensure you receive the correct compensation.

The VA Disability Advocate's Advice:

To ensure your combined rating is calculated correctly and to maximize your benefits, follow these steps:

  • Keep Detailed Records: Maintain thorough documentation of all your service-connected disabilities and their ratings.

  • Use the Combined Ratings Table: Refer to the VA's Combined Ratings Table to verify your combined rating.

  • Consult an Advocate: Work with an Accredited VA Disability Advocate to guide you through the process and ensure all your disabilities are accurately rated and combined.

For personalized assistance and to ensure your claim is well-supported, visit VA Disability Advocate and connect with an Accredited VA Disability Advocate who can provide valuable support and guidance.

Albert L. Thombs

Accredited VA Disability Advocate
Phone: 702-992-4883
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