The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently published a series of proposed changes to the VA rating schedule. The VA proposed rating schedule changes are intended to ensure that veterans are accurately compensated for their disability. As treatment protocols and medical science advance, the VA feels it is time to ensure that veteran payments reflect this.
The most recent proposed VA rating schedule changes affect mental health, sleep apnea, tinnitus, and respiratory disorders (such as COPD or asthma).
The changes for mental health would see the minimum disability rating rising from 0% to 10%. The rule would also eliminate an outdated VARSD rule that may make it easier for some veterans to receive a 100% rating for their mental health condition, even if they are still able to work.
In forming a conclusion regarding a disability rating for mental health, the VA will consider factors such as the way in which the condition affects relationships, the ability to complete everyday tasks, the ability to care for oneself, and levels of cognition.
The new disability rating will take into account how well an individual responds to modern treatments for sleep apnea. For example, the effect that a C-Pap machine might have. If the condition responds to treatment so that the veteran no longer suffers any adverse effects from having it, it will be rated 0%. The greater the level of impairment, even with treatment, the higher the percentage disability score. This change is the one that will impact veterans the most, as it does away with the “automatic” 50-percent rating for sleep apnea when CPAP use is required.
When the proposed rules are applied to respiratory conditions, the result is that it may be slightly easier to obtain a 100% rating than is currently the case.
Tinnitus will no longer be classed as a stand-alone condition, but rather as a symptom of an underlying condition. Under the proposed new rules, veterans would receive compensation based on the severity of the condition of which tinnitus is a symptom. In practice, this means that veterans in the future will be much less likely to receive a rating for tinnitus than is the case today.
The VA invites veterans and their families to comment on the proposed changes over the next 60 days.
Although these are only proposed changes at the moment, if adopted they are likely to have significant implications (both positive and negative) for veterans who suffer from one or more of the conditions given above.
Commentators suggest that broadly speaking, veterans with mental health problems are likely to be eligible for slightly more compensation than is currently the case, should the changes be adopted. In contrast, tinnitus and sleep apnea sufferers are likely to be eligible for slightly less compensation, particularly with the proposed changes to sleep apnea.
If you are a veteran and concerned about the effect these changes may have on your compensation or are struggling with any other aspect of your veteran compensation, the VA accredited lawyers at VetLaw can help.
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