Service-Connected Disability Ratings

  1. FAQs
  2. Percentages Explanation

How does the VA calculate overall service-connected disability ratings?

The Veterans Benefits Administration calculates disability rating using a weighted average approach.  The overall rating is very rarely the sum of Individual ratings for specific disabilities.  The weighted average system is codified in federal regulations and represents how all your disabilities affect your entire life.

What is Total Disability Individual Unemployment (TDIU)?

TDIU is commonly called “unemployable” and is listed on a VBA decision letter or on your annual award letter.  Veterans with a TDIU rating have an overall rating less than 100%, but are paid at a 100% rating.  TDIU-rated veterans are not allowed to attain gainful employment; usually, their income is capped at $10K/yr. 

What if I need more money? Can I get more money?

You may have several avenues for additional compensation from other programs. This has nothing to do with the sum of individual ratings. 

  1. Special Monthly Compensation (SMC): Your VSO can file a claim for SMC, which is usually from loss of use or organ or body part.
  2. Social Security Disability: VSOs do not handle these claims.
  3. State Pension for Blind and Amputee veterans: Your VSO can assist you.
  4. Combat-Related Special Compensation: For veterans who were medically retired from disabilities related to combat.  Eligibility for this program is limited and can sometimes be found on military discharge paperwork.  Your VSO can help you apply.

Maintaining your rating: It is important you seek our assistance for your service-connected disabilities through the VA or a private medical provider since payment can only be given for presently existing disabilities.  

For example, each time you see you doctor, you should be sure to list your service-connected disabilities and that they still bother you and ensure they put it in their visit notes.  

What about increases?

Some conditions and body parts have maximum ratings and it is not possible to get multiple ratings for the same vital organ.  Remember, if you request an increase, your entire claim is reviewed “de novo” meaning “as a totally brand new claim” and you equally run the benefit of an increase as well as a decrease for existing items. If you seek an increase, your VSO will advise you of the potential risks. Be ready to show with evidence how every condition you are service-connected for is the same or worse.  If the risks exceed the potential gains, a VSO will NOT file the claim on your behalf.