VA disability ratings are expressed in percentages ranging from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. A 0% rating means that a disability is service connected but does not cause enough of an impairment to qualify for cash benefits. A 100% rating means that you are severely impaired in your ability to work, maintain relationships with loved ones, and perform self-care tasks such as bathing or eating without assistance.
Gathering Evidence to Support Your Veterans Disability Claim
Providing ample evidence to document the seriousness of your condition is an essential part of maximizing your VA disability claim. You will need a persuasive nexus letter from a healthcare professional who focuses on treating patients with your specific condition. Diagnostic tests and documentation of any treatments you’ve tried in the past are also helpful. You can submit records from a VA provider as well as any relevant private medical evidence.
In addition to evidence from medical professionals, you can also submit statements from family, friends, coworkers, and others with knowledge of your condition. Having people who are close to you testify how your symptoms affect your day-to-day life provides strong support for a 100% rating. In some cases, your attorney may also recommend submitting personal journal entries, so you have a chance to explain your condition in your own words.
Combining Disabilities to Obtain a 100% Rating
As you might expect, it is difficult to obtain a 100% VA disability rating with just one service-connected disability. Most veterans who receive a 100% rating have two or more disabling conditions. Often, these conditions have a secondary service connection. This means, they are caused by a condition that is directly linked to military service. For example, a veteran with service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might receive a secondary connection for migraines, erectile dysfunction, hypertension, sleep apnea, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Getting the Benefits of a 100% Rating Through TDIU
Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits allow veterans who don’t qualify for a 100% rating based on schedular criteria to receive cash compensation at the rate of someone who is totally disabled. TDIU benefits recognize that some veterans have conditions that limit their ability to maintain substantial gainful employment even though they are not fully disabling.
A veteran may qualify for TDIU if they have one service-connected disability that is 60% or more disabling. If they have two or more service-connected disabilities, they must have one rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined disability rating of 70% or higher. However, exceptions are sometimes made for conditions that result in frequent hospitalization.
Substantial gainful employment is defined as earning more than a poverty-level wage in a position that does not qualify as a protected work environment. As such, veterans who are self-employed, work for a friend or family member, or perform odd jobs throughout the year may still qualify for TDIU.
Receiving a Temporary Veterans Disability 100% Rating
VA disability ratings aren’t necessarily permanent. The VA awards a temporary 100% rating when a veteran has a condition that is expected to improve in the future. For example:
- A veteran can receive a temporary 100% rating when discharged from service with an injury that makes immediate employment not advisable.
- A veteran can receive a temporary 100% rating when they are hospitalized for 21 or more days for a service-connected condition.
- A veteran can receive a 100% rating if they are having surgery for a service-connected condition and will require an extensive recovery time that limits their mobility. (An example of this would be an operation that requires the veteran to use a wheelchair while recovering.)
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.