Veteran with cane sits on couch speaking to a VA provider about his disability

VA Disability Ratings

Legally reviewed by Brendan Garcia , Owner and Lead Attorney

Once a veteran has established their service-connected disability, the next challenge is to secure a fair VA disability rating for fair benefits.


  • Veterans with service-connected conditions receive VA disability ratings indicating the severity of their illness or injury.
  • A veteran’s VA disability rating determines how much compensation they qualify for in monthly benefits.
  • VA disability ratings are based on a medical professional’s documentation of symptoms and diagnosis, C&P exam results, and supporting statements.
  • Veterans can increase their VA disability ratings and corresponding benefits by filing an appeal. 

If you are a disabled veteran, you know it’s important to get the money you need when you cannot work or care for yourself. Veterans Affairs, or the VA, will provide benefits for injuries and medical conditions related to your military service. However, you have to prove that 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. That way, they pay you an appropriate amount of benefits. VA disability ratings are a combination of all service-connected conditions. They 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. You also have the right to build a compelling case to maximize the potential of obtaining a higher rating. When successful, you will receive monthly benefits to help cover medical and living expenses.

Let the accomplished VA-accredited attorneys of VetLaw provide you with the capable assistance you need. We’ll help you to secure the VA disability benefits you are entitled to. Call (855) 964-1925 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation with us.


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 multiple disabilities, VA adjudicators will use a formula to assign an overall disability rating not exceeding 100%. Veterans sometimes jokingly refer to this as “VA Math”. To understand how the VA uses 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 be 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 a PTSD claim for lack of 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. The VA may grant TDIU benefits for PTSD if a vet is unable to maintain substantially gainful employment.

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. Keep in mind that the VA does not provide a compensable rating for migraines (meaning 10 percent or above) unless your migraine headaches are prostrating in nature.

The VA has not officially defined the term in its regulations. However, 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. The 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. 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 the 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, the 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

The 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 the 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 if the initial assessment was incorrect. The risk of applying for an increase is that the 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.

The 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, the 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 the 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 the 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, the 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 the 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, the 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 the 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

The VA may owe 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 veterans claims appeal 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 the VA can still seek to reduce your benefits. If the VA does not feel a condition has stabilized, they will often request a routine future exam.

This is just another word for a C&P that is scheduled without a claim being filed. You can read more in this article about the five, ten, and twenty year rules, which allow the VA to take this action.

The VA will use the results of this C&P examination to determine whether your service-connected condition still warrants a particular disability rating. They will also use C&P results to assess whether it should be increased or decreased.

It’s important to keep this in mind when attending any C&P exam. That way you can be sure to fully describe the functional impact of your disability. You’ll want to be careful to ensure the doctor understands the severity of each symptom.


You should call a VA disability claims appeal lawyer when you receive a lower-than-expected rating. Additionally, an attorney can help after the VA denies benefits, when you 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. 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 have options. 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. These are otherwise known as TDIU benefits.

If you need help filing for TDIU, give our VA Disability lawyers a call to learn more about TDIU. Our team can explain how it may affect your current ratings. We’ll also review 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. Additionally, we may seek a vocational assessment for the VA to consider in your appeal. Having a medical nexus opinion is one of the most important things to consider in filing an appeal. Our team is well-versed in the components the VA is looking for and we are equipped to prepare an appeal including this key information. 


With our ample resources and curated knowledge of the VA appeals process, you have a greater likelihood of securing benefits. We will apply our considerable skill set to pursuing a fair VA disability rating for your service-connected condition. 

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. Reach out by calling (855) 964-1925 or completing an online contact form today.


How does the VA’s 5-year rule impact my VA disability rating?

Basically, the VA’s 5-year rule says the VA can assess and adjust your disability rating for 5 years after your initial C&P exam. Depending on what they find, your VA disability rating could decrease or increase. 

However, after that 5 year period has passed, the VA can’t decrease your rating unless your condition has improved considerably. If you have a Total and Permanent Disability status, you are exempt from the rule and your rating is protected.

What does a 0% VA disability rating mean?

Veterans with a 0% VA disability rating are not eligible for VA disability benefits at this level. The VA calls this a “non-compensable disability”. However, it is important to note that a 0% VA disability rating is not the same thing as receiving a denial due to a lack of service connection or lack of diagnosis, even though both statuses render a veteran ineligible for disability benefits. 

When the VA issues a 0% disability rating, it means that it has accepted your diagnosis is legitimate and service-connected. However, it is not severe enough to warrant VA disability benefits. A 0% VA disability rating provides a foundation for you to seek compensation if your condition worsens. 

If you believe the VA inaccurately assessed your service-related disability’s severity, you can appeal to increase your rating. If your veterans disability claim was denied altogether, you would need to file an appeal that demonstrates your condition meets the criteria for a service-connected disability before securing a VA disability rating.

How do I qualify for an extra-schedular rating?

Be prepared for a challenge if you decide to pursue an extra-schedular rating for a service-related disability. Extra-schedular ratings exist so that veterans with conditions that are so “exceptional or unusual that it makes application of the regular rating schedule impractical” can access the level of benefits they need, according to the VA.

To qualify, you’ll first need to show that you already have a VA disability rating for a service-connected condition. Then, you will need to provide proof demonstrating that your symptoms are debilitating beyond what the typical VA ratings schedule allows for for your condition. Frequent hospitalization and/or an inability to work a steady job are the standard indicators of impairment.  

Contact us today for a free case review.