When you are approved for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you will receive a percentage rating that reflects the severity of your condition. Ratings range from 0% to 100% in 10% increments—with higher ratings resulting in additional monthly compensation. If your level of impairment has increased, you may be entitled to a higher disability rating.
Reasons for Requesting a Higher Disability Rating
There are three main reasons why a veteran may wish to seek a higher disability rating:
Requesting compensation for an existing condition that has become worse.
If your service-connected disability is degenerative in nature, it’s possible that your level of impairment will increase over time. For example, your back or knee condition may gradually lead to decreased mobility and additional pain.
Requesting compensation for a new disability.
In many cases, veterans develop additional service-connected disabilities over time. For example, if you suffer from service-connected diabetes, you might be able to receive a secondary service connection if you’ve been recently diagnosed with hypertension, erectile dysfunction, arteriosclerosis, or diabetic retinopathy.
If your condition is preventing you from maintaining substantially gainful employment, you may qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. If approved, you can receive compensation at the rate of someone who is considered 100% disabled.
To apply for an increased rating for an existing disability or to service-connect a new condition, you must go through the same procedure you went through when you first filed for compensation. You can file for TDIU using VA Form 21-8940: Veteran’s Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.
Regardless of your reasons for seeking a higher rating, it’s vital that you gather as much evidence as possible before reopening your claim. In some cases, reopening your claim can allow the VA to lower or terminate your existing rating.
If it has been less than a year since you were first approved for benefits, please note that your request is considered an appeal.
Do You Need to Speak With a Veterans Benefits Lawyer?
If you need to speak with an experienced veterans benefits lawyer, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.