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VA Disability Ratings

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

If you are a disabled veteran, you know how important it is to get the money you need when you cannot work or take care of yourself. Veterans Affairs, or the VA, will provide you benefits for injuries and medical conditions related to your time in the service so long as you meet the requirements to establish entitlement to service connection. Due to various economic and scalability factors, the VA will need to establish how disabled they believe you are so that they pay you an appropriate amount of benefits.

VA disability ratings are a combination of all service-connected conditions and are meant to compensate you for the overall impact – or functional impairment – on your life. If you have a diagnosable, documented disability for your military service, you have the right to claim VA disability benefits. However, you also have the right to build the most compelling case possible to maximize the potential of receiving a higher rating. When successful, you will receive monthly benefits to help you pay for medical and living expenses.


A VA Disability Rating is a percentage assigned to disabled veterans after a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination. The VA bases your rating on the severity of your service-connected medical condition and how it impacts your daily life. VA disability recipients can expect to receive monthly benefits payments according to the assigned rate.

More specifically, the VA considers the following factors:

  • C&P examination results
  • Federal agency information
  • Medical evidence
  • Lay statements describing how the condition affects daily functioning
  • Other relevant details

If you have more than one disability, VA adjudicators will a formula – which veterans sometimes jokingly refer to as “VA Math” – to assign an overall disability rating score that cannot be higher than 100 percent. To better understand how VA will use a combined percentage for establishing your VA Disability Rating, use our VA Disability Calculator.

VA Disability Ratings Determine Your Benefits

Veterans must meet specific requirements to receive disability benefits. The assigned percentage also determines the maximum amount of compensation you can receive. Contact an accredited VA Disability lawyer if you believe the VA incorrectly set your rate so that you can present your best case at a future hearing.

VA Rating Board Decides Your Rating

The VA provides compensation benefits to disabled veterans who cannot work. Unlike the Social Security Administration (SSA), which pays benefits to disabled civilians, the VA pays disability benefits to veterans with service-connected disabilities. As such, the VA Rating Board will determine your eligibility and rating to establish your monthly payments.

Your Rating Corresponds to a Dollar Amount

After receiving your rating, the assigned percentage corresponds to a specific dollar amount for monthly payments. In 2021, at the time of writing, a single, childless veteran with a 10 percent disability rating receives $144.14 per month, whereas one with a 90 percent rating receives $1887.18. The VA adjusts the compensation levels annually on December 1 based on SSA data. Historically these compensation levels have always increased each year.


After reviewing medical evidence, the VA will evaluate your medical condition and assign a disability rating. It is critical to ensure that the VA has your most recent medical documentation to receive an accurate assessment. Putting your best case forward from the beginning can result in a better outcome.

In general, the elements below are what the VA uses to determine your rating:

C&P Exam Results

The VA considers the results of a C&P examination when establishing your disability rating. C&P exams are medical assessments performed by a VA physician or other medical professional to document the severity of your disability. It is vital that you show up for all scheduled exams and remain completely honest with your C&P examiner.

If the C&P examiner recommends aftercare, you should also follow up on their orders as soon as possible.

Functional Impairment

When determining a proper disability rating, the VA will look at your overall functional impairment as well. Functional impairment describes how the disability affects your daily life. For example, you might have a disability that prevents you from working but still allows you to live independently.

If the combination of your service-connected disabilities does not equal 100 percent but you are unable to work – or maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of your overall functional impairment, you may qualify for payment at the 100 percent rate through a benefit program called TDIU, or a total disability rating based on individual unemployability. A VA Disability Rating lawyer can discuss the potential outcomes for your situation.

Permanent & Total Severe Disabilities

It is possible to receive a 100 percent disability rating for a singular medical condition, especially if your disability prohibits you from working and living independently. Examples of permanent and total severe disabilities include the loss of sight, limbs, cognitive functionality, and more.


The VA will assign a disability rating for each service-connected condition between 0 and 100 percent. Not every disability is eligible for a 100 percent, or a permanent and total rating. Ratings for common disabilities are awarded based on a comparison of your symptoms and functional impact as they are notated in your C&P exam and elsewhere in your record with the rating schedule.

Below, we have outlined the VA disability ratings for common disabilities:


The VA disability rating for tinnitus is 10 percent is whether it affects one or both ears. Tinnitus is a medical condition in which a person hears a sound in their ear despite the absence of external noise. Tinnitus veterans should file a claim as soon as they notice symptoms and include detailed records of excessive noise exposure while serving in the military.

There is no cure for tinnitus, whether temporary or chronic, but there are ways to manage the symptoms. If you receive both tinnitus and hearing loss diagnoses, you should record them as separate disabilities. Filing a VA disability claim for tinnitus can help military veterans get disability compensation.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The VA disability rating for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent depending upon the severity of your condition. PTSD is the sixth most commonly diagnosed disability among veterans.

To back up your claim, you must show a link between the current diagnosis and an in-service stressor. The VA will deny service connection if the proof falls short in one area. Since many veterans with PTSD cannot work, it is very common to receive a 70 percent evaluation but receive compensation at the 100 percent level due to approval for TDIU, which can be granted as a result of being unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to service-connected PTSD.

Lumbar and Cervical Spine Conditions

The VA disability rating for lumbar and cervical spine conditions is 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 100 percent depending upon the severity of the disability. Note that you generally receive separate ratings for your lumbar spine and your cervical spine, unless the severity of your overall spine disorder warrants a 100-percent evaluation. Back and neck pain is a debilitating disorder and affects many veterans’ ability to work and care for themselves or their children. Veterans with fractured or dislocated vertebrae may experience pain and weakness in their arms, hips, shoulders, and other body parts.

Spinal conditions frequently cause secondary conditions, such as nerve damage – or radiculopathy, which qualify a veteran for a different rating. Sometimes people with spinal conditions alter their gait to alleviate pain, leading to knee, hip, and ankle problems. You can receive compensation for both the initial and secondary disabilities as long as you can show a nexus, or connection between them.


The VA disability rating for migraines is 0, 10, 30, or 50 percent depending upon the severity of your condition. Migraines can be debilitating, preventing you from working or completing daily tasks. One important thing to keep in mind is that VA does not provide a compensable rating for migraines (meaning 10-percent or above) unless your migraine headaches are prostrating in nature. Although VA has not officially defined the term in its regulations, a prostrating headache is generally understood to be one that requires a person to lie down in a dark room due to the severity of the migraine pain.

VA recognizes migraine headaches as a service-connected disability if the veteran can show a link to military service. For veterans who have documented migraine headaches in their service medical records, it can be easy to prove entitlement to service connection. Other veterans, may also be eligible for compensation if a nexus or connection to active duty military service or a service-connected condition can be shown. Be sure to document your symptoms and keep a headache log if you have or are planning to file a claim requesting service connection for migraine headaches. Statements from family, friends, and coworkers describing the frequency and severity of your migraine headaches are also helpful in ensuring VA provides the correct rating.


The VA disability rating for scarring is 10, 30, 50, or 80 percent depending upon the severity of the scars. Scars are the fifth most common disability among veterans. Factors considered when establishing a rating include the number of scars, area affected, permanence, and the number of painful scars.


The amount you can expect to receive is not only based on your disability rating, but the VA also factors in other elements. You will receive more money if you have children under age 24 (if enrolled in school full-time), a spouse, and any dependent parents. You should also take note that the VA will make the cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to ensure that your purchasing power does not erode due to inflation.

Below are the current compensation rates based on percentage of disability:

Veterans with a 10% or 20% disability rating

Rating Monthly payment
10% $171.23
20% $338.49


Veterans with a 30% to 100% disability rating

With dependents, including children

Monthly Payment


Veteran with 1 child only With 1 child and spouse With 1 child, spouse, and 1 parent With 1 child, spouse, and 2 parents With 1 child and 1 parent With 1 child and 2 parents
30% $565.31 $632.31 $682.31 $732.31 $615.31 $665.31
40% $810.28 $899.28 $965.28 $1,031.28 $876.28 $942.28
50% $1,144.16 $1,255.16 $1,338.16 $1,421.16 $1,227.16 $1,310.16
60% $1,444.88 $1,577.88 $1,677.88 $1,777.88 $1,544.88 $1,644.88
70% $1,813.28 $1,968.28 $2,085.28 $2,202.28 $1,930.28 $2,047.28
80% $2,106.01 $2,283.01 $2,416.01 $2,549.01 $2,239.01 $2,372.01
90% $2,366.91 $2,565.91 $2,715.91 $2,865.91 $2,516.91 $2,666.91
100% $3,877.22 $4,098.87 $4,266.13 $4,433.39 $4,044.48 $4,211.74


Added Amounts


Each additional child under age 18 Each additional child over age 18 in a qualifying school program Spouse receiving Aid and Attendance
30% $31.00 $100.00 $57.00
40% $41.00 $133.00 $76.00
50% $51.00 $167.00 $95.00
60% $62.00 $200.00 $114.00
70% $72.00 $234.00 $134.00
80% $82.00 $267.00 $153.00
90% $93.00 $301.00 $172.00
100% $103.55 $334.49 $191.14


With a dependent spouse or parent, but no children

Monthly Payment


Veteran alone With spouse With spouse and 1 parent With spouse and 2 parents With 1 parent With 2 parents
30% $524.31 $586.31 $636.31
$686.31 $574.31 $624.31
40% $755.28 $838.28
$904.28 $970.28 $821.28 $887.28
50% $1,075.16 $1,179.16 $1,262.16 $1,345.16 $1,158.16 $1,241.16
60% $1,361.88 $1,486.88 $1,586.88 $1,686.88 $1,461.88 $1,561.88
70% $1,716.28 $1,861.28 $1,978.28 $2,095.28 $1,833.28 $1,950.28
80% $1,995.01 $2,161.01 $2,294.01 $2,427.01 $2,128.01 $2,261.01
90% $2,241.91 $2,428.91 $2,578.91
$2,728.91 $2,391.91 $2,541.91
100% $3,737.85 $3,946.25 $4,113.51 $4,280.77 $3,905.11 $4,072.37


Added Amounts


Spouse receiving Aid and Attendance
30% $57.00
40% $76.00
50% $95.00
60% $114.00
70% $134.00
80% $153.00
90% $172.00
100% $191.14



The VA does not add up the two disability ratings when you have more than one disability. Instead, they use a combined ratings table that starts with the veteran’s highest rating and calculates each additional disability from the remaining ability. It can get complicated, so we recommend using our free Disability Calculator if you are unsure how to make the calculations.

The Bilateral Factor

VA uses another confusing formula to determine if a bilateral factor should apply when veterans have disabilities on both sides of the body. A different bilateral factor applies to the top half of the body and to the bottom half, and the disabilities do not need to be identical or occur on the same limb type to be considered bilateral. For example, a veteran with a left knee disability and a right ankle disability will qualify for the bilateral factor on the bottom half of the body. Our free Disability Calculator includes the ability to verify VA has applied the bilateral factor correctly.


Yes, you can request a re-evaluation of your VA Disability Rating if your condition worsens over time or the initial assessment was incorrect. The risk of applying for an increase is that VA will generally request new C&P examinations if you file a claim for an increased rating, and depending on those results they might try to sever or reduce your benefits. VA has a pretty high burden to meet in reducing benefits, as they are required to show your condition has actual improvement that will be maintained under the ordinary conditions of life. However, in practice, VA ignores this burden and issues many erroneous proposed reduction rating decisions each year.

Depending on how long it has been since you received your rating, and whether you disagree with the initial evaluation or would just like a re-evaluation due to a worsening of your service-connected condition, there are several options you can choose from when you are seeking a higher rating. Consider the following options, and note that depending on your situation, you may be able to choose more than one option at the same time:

Option 1. File an Appeal

As long as you received notification of VA’s decision within the past year, you can appeal that initial decision by either requesting Higher Level Review or by filing a Notice of Disagreement directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals. You can also file a Supplemental Claim – which is different from filing a claim for an increased rating – within this one-year period. We have a detailed post explaining the difference between these appeal options – all of which fall under the new Appeals Modernization Act framework – here.

Option 2. File a Claim for an increased rating

If you waited longer than a year – or if you think your condition has worsened, instead of expressing disagreement with VA’s decision you can file a claim for an increased rating at any time. Veterans can submit new evidence along with the claim for an increased rating. You may want to submit treatment records from a physician as well as a statement from a family member, as both medical and lay evidence can help support a showing your disability has worsened. Generally, VA will always request a new C&P examination after a veteran files a claim for an increased rating.

Option 3. File a request for TDIU

A total disability rating based on individual unemployability – or TDIU – is recognition by VA that a veteran cannot maintain gainful employment due to service-connected conditions. Veterans who are approved for TDIU receive compensation at the 100-percent rate. Since the VA Disability Rating schedule does not accurately reflect the functional impact and limitations from many disabling conditions, this is the only way some veterans can receive fair compensation for their service-connected disabilities.

In order to request TDIU, use of VA Form 21-8940 is required. To qualify for schedular TDIU, one of the following conditions must be true:

  • One (1) service-connected disability with a sixty (60) percent rating; OR,
  • Multiple service-connected disabilities and one (1) condition with at least a forty (40) percent disability rating and a combined rating of at least seventy (70) percent

Even if you don’t meet the requirements for schedular TDIU, you may be entitled to TDIU on an extraschedular basis. In either case, to begin the process you must file a request on VA Form 21-8940. Since the form is complicated, you may want to consult with a veterans law attorney before submitting it to VA.

Option 4. Filing a claim for Secondary Service-Connected Disabilities

Veterans can also file a new claim for secondary service-connected disabilities at any time. While this claim will not affect the rating you receive for the initial disability, it can still increase a veteran’s overall rating and total monthly compensation payments.

For example, let’s say that you suffered from a neck injury. Several years later, it causes you to experience headaches. In this situation, you could file an application for migraine headaches and receive a secondary service-connected disability rating, likely increasing your monthly disability benefits.

Increased Ratings Equal Increased Compensation

VA may owe some veterans back pay when their claim for an increased rating or their appeal is finally approved. Be sure to submit any medical evidence regarding exactly when your disability began or worsened for the best chance of maximizing the amount of back pay you are eligible to receive. Contact a lawyer to review your disability rating and see what the best option for requesting a VA Disability Rating increase may be in your situation.


No, most VA Disability Ratings are not permanent, at least not to begin with. However, once a condition has stabilized – meaning VA does not feel there is a likelihood of material improvement – it will then be considered static, or permanent in nature. It’s important to note that if a veteran requests a re-evaluation or if your VA treatment records show your condition improved, then VA can still seek to reduce your benefits.

If VA does not feel a condition has stabilized, they will often request a routine future exam, which is just another word for a C&P that is scheduled without a claim being filed. VA will use the results of this C&P examination to determine whether your service-connected condition still warrants a particular disability rating, or whether it should be increased or decreased. It’s important to keep this in mind when attending any C&P exam so that you can be sure to fully describe the functional impact of your disability, being careful to ensure the doctor understands the severity of each symptom.


You should call a VA disability lawyer when you receive a lower-than-expected rating, a denial of benefits, when you want to apply for TDIU, or if your condition worsens. VetLaw helps veterans who may be entitled to additional monthly compensation for their mental and physical impairments.

Here is more information about when to call a VA disability lawyer:

Denial of Benefits: If you were denied entitlement to service connection for one or more disabilities, you have the right to appeal this decision. Our VA disability lawyers have reviewed thousands of rating decisions denying benefits, and we can advise you on how to approach an appeal.

Low Ratings: If you received an initial decision from the VA and believed that you received a much lower rating than you deserve, you may want to either file a claim for an increased rating or appeal the decision altogether. Contact our VA disability lawyers to discuss which option may be best for your situation.

You are unable to work due to your service-connected disability or disabilities: If your service-connected disability or disabilities cause you to be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment, the next step is to request payment at the 100-percent level due to unemployability, otherwise known as TDIU. If you need help filing for TDIU, give our VA Disability lawyers a call to learn more about TDIU, including how it may affect your current ratings and how to obtain the earliest possible effective date, which can sometimes be much earlier than the date you file your application for TDIU on VA Form 21-8940.

VetLaw will communicate with the VA on your behalf and represent your case professionally. To prove your VA claim, we will start by gathering all of your medical records and other relevant evidence. Our attorneys will draft briefs describing your disabilities in light of applicable federal statutes, evidence, and case law. Most of the time we also attempt to obtain an independent medical opinion or vocational assessment for VA to consider in your appeal. Having a medical nexus opinion is one of the most important things to consider in filing an appeal.

We will provide responsive legal care as well as offer routine updates throughout the entire process. Our main objective is to maximize your recovery as seamlessly as possible. Allow us to handle your VA disability appeal while you concentrate on your health.

Contact us today for a free case review.