older veteran discusses his service related disability with a VA doctor

Increasing Your VA Disability Rating | VA Disability Rating Appeals

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

Increasing your VA disability rating through a veterans disability appeal can offer you the financial support your service-related condition deserves.

Summary

  • Veterans can file an appeal with the VA to increase their disability rating for a few reasons, like if their service-related condition has become worse since the VA first issued their rating.
  • To convince the VA that an increased disability rating is warranted, veterans should hire a VA disability appeals attorney to gather and present evidence supporting their claim.
  • Veterans seeking to increase their VA disability rating can choose from multiple paths for their appeal.

A veteran’s service-connected disability can worsen over time and may ultimately require more medical treatment or cause additional functional impairment. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) might refuse to increase a former servicemember’s disability rating without proper evidence.

Alternatively, the VA may have awarded you a lower disability rating than what you are entitled to. If the VA denied your claim for an increased disability rating, you should meet with a veterans disability appeals lawyer from VetLaw’s team. We can assist you with increasing your current VA disability rating and reviewing your recent medical records.

Our team can help you determine the best path to move forward and obtain the benefits you need. You can reach us by calling (855) 430-0752 or by filling out a free case evaluation form on our website.

Qualifying Circumstances for an Increased Disability Rating

A veteran who believes that their assigned disability rating does not adequately represent their impairment should challenge the VA’s decision with the help of a veterans disability claims attorney. If the local VA office rated the applicant’s disability too low or their condition has worsened over time and now warrants a new rating, they should consider appealing the assigned rating.

Although it is rare, another reason to appeal a VA disability rating is because your disability needs to be evaluated on an extra-schedular basis. Successfully appealing a VA disability rating for one service-related disability increases your overall VA disability rating, which can render you eligible for additional types of veterans disability benefits.

Veterans who are unable to work as a result of their service-connected disabilities may qualify for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU). Former servicemembers who feel that they are not receiving the benefits they deserve should consult with a VA-accredited attorney for help with increasing their disability rating, including the possibility of obtaining TDIU.

Since there are specific guidelines for each disability rating that differ for each medical condition, it is important to carefully review your medical records before applying for an increased rating or appealing the rating assigned. We can advise you on how to best prepare an appeal for an increased VA disability rating.

Appealing a Disability Rating

For claims rejected on or after February 19, 2019, veterans must follow the rules set by the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA). This law requires applicants to file a direct notice of disagreement. A former servicemember can do so by submitting VA Form 10182 and requesting review by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).

The AMA allows veterans to cut through some of the red tape that used to hold up appeals for years, thus allowing review by a BVA judge more quickly. Otherwise, appealing disability benefits claims denied before February 19, 2019, would entail filing a Legacy Notice of Disagreement through a local VA office. After an applicant receives a subsequent denial or inadequate rating, they may then file for administrative review by the BVA.

Types of Evidence Veterans Can Submit to Increase Their VA Disability Rating

You may need to offer updated or more detailed information regarding your service-connected illness or injury to secure a higher VA disability rating. Providing additional evidence may be warranted, either because the VA has underestimated the severity of your service-related condition or because it refuses to acknowledge that your disability has gotten worse. 

A few examples of evidence you can use to justify an increased disability rating to the VA include:

  • Medical records from a VA facility or private healthcare provider
  • Statements from your caregiver, spouse, friends, and family who have seen how your disability impacts your life
  • Statements from your boss or co-workers who can speak to how your disability affects your ability to perform your job
  • Documentation of missed work or reduced hours, as well as workplace accommodations
  • Personal journals or records describing your pain or inability to participate in various activities due to your service-related condition
  • Statements, testimony, or records from mental healthcare providers, clergy members, and crisis centers

The best option for veterans who wish to increase their VA disability rating is to consult with a veterans disability appeals attorney who is familiar with the varying appellate paths. We can help you file an appeal that addresses your specific needs.

Ask a Veterans Disability Appeals Attorney about Increasing A VA Disability Rating Today

A VA-accredited attorney from our firm can assist you with increasing your VA disability rating. We can help you figure out what you may need to submit as evidence to persuade the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and reverse the VA’s decision as well as prepare you for a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge.

Navigating the VA’s appeals process successfully may be difficult without qualified legal counsel, so it is advisable to retain an attorney from our dedicated team as soon as possible. For help with increasing a VA disability rating, get in touch with a lawyer from our firm today. You can also schedule a free consultation with us by calling (855) 430-0752 .


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to submit to another C&P exam if I want to increase my VA disability rating?

If you are disputing the VA’s decision about your disability rating, it’s pretty likely that you will need to provide additional evidence to support your claim. That means you should expect the VA may want to schedule a C&P exam for you, even if you already attended one when you first filed your VA disability claim.

This is an opportunity for a VA provider or VA-approved contractor to assess the likelihood of your service connection and document the level of impairment your disability has produced.

During your C&P, the provider may observe that your condition has worsened or is more serious than what your existing disability rating would suggest, which can lead to an increased VA disability rating.

Are there maximum disability ratings for certain service-connected conditions?

Not every service-related disability is eligible for a 100% VA disability rating. For certain conditions, like service-connected headaches, the VA does not offer 100% disability because even in the worst presentation of the condition, it is not completely incapacitating. For example, service-related tinnitus has a maximum VA disability rating of 10%.

How long do I have to file an appeal to increase my VA disability rating?

If the VA has sent you a letter with a Rating Decision, check the date on that paper; you have a year from that date to initiate the VA disability appeals process. The sooner you start the process, the better. It often takes a considerable amount of time to build and resolve an appeal for an increased VA disability rating.