Veterans returning home with combat-related injuries often face lengthy recovery periods or struggle to live with permanent disabilities. Tennessee and federal benefits are critical for helping injured veterans manage their new realities but depend on disability ratings.
Understanding how the VA assigns these ratings can help veterans know if they are receiving the benefits they deserve.
What is a disability rating?
The VA assigns disability percentage ratings coinciding with the degree to which a service-related injury or condition impairs a veteran’s health and daily function. Ratings range from 0% for no impairment to 100% for permanent and total impairment. Rating assignments determine monthly disability pay and qualify veterans for free federally-sponsored medical care, job training and other benefits. Tennessee also offers multiple benefits, including education assistance and life insurance premium waivers for qualifying veterans.
How does the VA determine disability ratings?
Veterans must submit applications including various forms of evidence supporting their claims, including:
- Military and private medical records
- Official injury reports
- Testimony from friends, family or colleagues describing the disability’s impact
- Service discharge papers
Veterans with multiple disabilities receive a combined percentage rating averaging their separate impairment ratings. They usually undergo a medical exam by a VA doctor before a local VA representative determines a disability rating and benefit award.
Can disability ratings change?
The VA may monitor veterans with temporary disabilities for worsening or improving symptoms and adjusts their ratings accordingly. However, permanent and total impairment warrants a 100% rating and the highest compensation.
Although veteran disability ratings may change depending on the injury that causes the disability, the VA may not notify veterans about these changes unless they impact benefit payments.