Frustrated veteran sitting on his couch with his laptop talking on the phone to the VA about his disability benefits

Understanding the Percentage System for VA Benefits

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Veterans’ benefits are impacted by the percent VA disability rating they receive for their service-related illnesses and injuries.


  • The VA disability benefits you receive depend on your combined disability rating, calculated using a percentage system that considers the level of debilitation from each service-connected condition.
  • Disability ratings for service-related conditions are combined using a ratings table, not by simple addition, to determine the overall disability rating, which then dictates the monthly compensation rate.
  • For physical conditions, the VA uses medical evidence to verify service connection. Additionally, the VA relies on medical records to determine the appropriate disability rating on a scale from 0% to 100%.
  • Mental conditions are rated using a combined disability percentage based on the severity of symptoms. The ratings include 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%.
  • Veterans must have a minimum 10% VA disability rating to receive benefits, with higher combined ratings potentially qualifying for additional benefits like Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

The amount of veterans disability benefits you’re entitled to depends on your combined VA disability rating for service-connected conditions. At Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia, we know that having an accurate VA disability rating is key to claiming benefits.

This conviction is why our veterans disability appeals attorneys have spent the last decade advocating for veterans struggling to secure a fair rating for their service-related conditions, with great success. Reach out to our team by calling (855) 964-1925 or by filling out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Using Your Overall Disability Rating to Claim Benefits for Service-Related Conditions 

The VA uses a percentage system to account for the level of debilitation you experience for each service-related physical or mental condition. Additionally, each Secondary Condition is eligible for its own VA disability rating. You may only have one total percent VA disability rating for a single condition, or you may have multiple ratings. 

When a veteran is seeking disability benefits for more than one service-related condition or a service-related condition and Secondary Condition(s), the VA provides a single combined disability rating. The combined percentage you are assigned corresponds with a monthly compensation rate.

Once the VA approves your claim for disability benefits and issues your combined disability rating, then you can use the 2024 VA disability compensation rates to get an estimate of your projected monthly compensation. In conjunction with other factors, like having dependents, your combined VA disability rating dictates the amount of benefits you receive.

Finding Your Combined VA Disability Rating

It is a common misconception that you can simply add up your disability rating percentages for your conditions to find your combined VA disability rating. Instead, the VA uses a combined ratings table to come up with a percentage that reflects a veteran’s overall level of disability. 

If you know the percent VA disability rating for each of your conditions, you can do this yourself. 

  • Start by putting your VA disability ratings in order from the highest to the lowest percentage.
  • Locate the highest percentage rating you have in the far left column.
  • Locate the next highest percentage rating you have along the top row.
  • Find the box where the column and row intersect; this is the combined disability rating for those conditions.
  • Round your combined VA disability rating percentage, but only if the percent does not end in 0 and you are not adding any more disabilities.

If you are combining more than two service-related disabilities, do not round yet.

  • Take the un-rounded value, representing the combined disability rating for your conditions with the two highest ratings, and locate it in the far left column.
  • Locate the value of your third-highest rating along the top row.
  • Find the box where this column and row intersect for your updated disability rating percent. 
  • Round your combined disability rating percent, if applicable. If this is the last condition you are combining, round this value for your final combined VA disability rating.

For each VA disability rating you include after combining your top two percentages, repeat this portion of the process. Do not round until you have accounted for all of your conditions. You can also use our VA Disability Calculator to see what your combined percent VA disability rating will likely be.

Assigning Veterans Disability Ratings for Physical Conditions

As veterans disability benefits lawyers, we know the fight for compensation begins long before the VA issues a rating percentage. To fully understand the percentage system for VA disability benefits, we recommend that you review how the VA decides disability ratings for service-related physical and mental conditions. 

The VA will need medical evidence to confirm your diagnosis and assess the likelihood that your physical condition is service-related. This will likely require medical records to substantiate your case. This can include results from MRI scans, blood panels, biopsies, gastroscopies, exercise stress tests, hearing tests, and other diagnostic tools. 

It is also helpful to submit a strong medical nexus letter in which your provider outlines the medical evidence supporting a service connection. In many cases, the VA will also schedule a Compensation and Pension exam to gather or confirm details. 

Once the VA is satisfied with the information you have provided in your claim or in your C&P exam, it will determine your percent VA disability rating. Using the rating schedule for your condition, the VA will match your symptoms to the appropriate level of disability.

Each level is indicated by a percentage. The rating scale for service-connected physical conditions begins at 0% VA disability. Then, it increases by increments of 10% all the way to 100% disability. 

Establishing a Combined Disability Percentage for Mental Conditions

To account for the fact that mental conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are often interrelated and comorbid, the VA uses one combined rating to describe a veteran’s level of mental impairment resulting from military service. Veterans must still provide medical evidence of a diagnosis for each condition.

They must also show that each mental condition is service-connected, meaning it was caused by military service or it was a pre-existing condition that was irritated by military service. Alternatively, a veteran can show that their mental disability is a Secondary Condition to another service-related disability.

The VA uses a ratings schedule to assess the severity of the veteran’s mental condition. This is a tool where each rating level has a description of the condition’s symptoms. As the percentage increases, so does the severity of the symptoms. Vets are then assigned the percentage that their symptoms most closely align with. 

Mental conditions can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% disability. If a veteran has multiple service-related mental conditions, the VA issues a rating percentage that accounts for all of their qualified disabilities.

Rely on VetLaw to Help You Navigate the VA Disability Claims Process

If you aren’t familiar with the percentage system for VA benefits, it can be confusing. Even if you are able to figure out your combined percent VA disability rating, you may feel that one or more of your service-related conditions deserve a higher rating.

At VetLaw, our team has established ourselves as skilled advocates for veterans seeking additional disability benefits. Our veterans disability benefits denial lawyers are ready to tackle challenges on your behalf.

We encourage you to get in touch with our team today. Call (855) 964-1925 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation with us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the lowest percent VA disability rating I can have and still be eligible for benefits?

Veterans must have a minimum 10% disability rating for at least one condition to receive benefits. Having multiple service-connected conditions that each have a 10% or greater disability rating can increase a veteran’s overall rating.

Why does a 70% combined percent VA disability matter?

A 70% VA disability rating is an important threshold in terms of benefits. Veterans with a combined 70% disability rating are potentially eligible for compensation beyond what is standard for that percentage. 

For example, the 70/40 rule for TDIU says that if a veteran with a combined 70% rating has at least one service-connected disability with a 40% rating, they can collect Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability benefits if they meet the other criteria. This allows them to collect TDIU, even though they don’t have a 100% disability rating.

How does the VA round percentages for combined disability ratings?

If your combined VA disability rating isn’t a multiple of 10, you’ll need to round it to the closest one. For a percent that ends in 1, 2, 3, or 4, round your combined VA disability rating down. If your percent ends with 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9, round your combined disability rating up.