If you feel at a loss trying to figure out how the VA calculates your disability rate, you are definitely not alone!
Hardly anything is more confusing than the rules and formulas the VA uses for calculating combined disability rates for Veterans. At the same time, these calculations are pivotal for your life and determine whether you will receive the maximum VA benefits that you’re entitled to.
The good news is that there are many free tools like online VA rate calculators that promise to save you time and energy and estimate your combined VA rate and monthly disability compensation that you are eligible for.
But do they really work? And if they do, how reliable are the results they provide?
Following is an overview of how the VA calculates the disability rates, which factors can affect each case, and show how reliable those online VA calculators really are.
Quick Review: How the VA Calculates Your Disability Rate
The VA’s disability rating system is designed to compensate Veterans for the loss of their ability to earn and provide for their families due to service-connected disabilities. The disability rating is a percentage that reflects the severity of a Veteran’s disabilities.
Calculating each Veteran’s disability rate is a complex process that involves:
- Medical examination
Each claim for VA disability benefits involves a thorough medical examination and requires medical records and statements from healthcare providers as evidence supporting the claim. The VA may also conduct a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination to evaluate the extent and severity of the disabilities.
- Evaluation of disabilities
VA medical professionals evaluate each service-connected disability and assign a rating based on the severity of the condition. Ratings are typically assigned in increments of 10%, ranging from 0% to 100%. The more severe the disability, the higher the rating.
- Combined ratings
If you have multiple service-connected disabilities, the VA uses a special formula to calculate the combined disability rating. It is not simply the sum of the individual ratings, but an evaluation of the impact of each disability on the overall ability to function. In other words, two Veterans with seemingly similar health conditions can receive entirely different VA disability rates depending on how those conditions affect their everyday lives and ability to receive income.
- Round to the nearest 10%
The combined rating is rounded to the nearest multiple of 10%. For example, if the calculated combined rating is 43%, it is rounded down to 40%, while a calculated rating of 48% is rounded up to 50%.
- Calculation of benefit payments
The assigned VA disability rate determines the amount of monthly disability payment that you receive. The VA has a table of Veterans’ disability compensation rates on its official website. This table is updated every year, and it specifies the monthly payment for each VA rating percentage.
Your final disability rate and monthly compensation will also depend on other factors like your marital status, how many dependents you have, etc.
All of this is a high-level explanation of how the VA calculates your disability rate, but mainly it gives you a general understanding of why 1+1 does not necessarily equal 2 when it comes to the VA math.
So, when it comes to online calculators how reliable are they, really?
5 Things to Consider Using an Online VA Calculator
Online VA disability rate calculators can estimate your potential monthly compensation based on your disabilities and their severity. It is a handy tool that keeps you out of the weeds of mind-bending VA math.
Here is what you need to keep in mind when using those VA rate calculators:
- Limited accuracy
These calculators may not consider all the nuances, rules, and updates of the VA disability rating process. Many factors can affect the final compensation amount, and usually, online tools are not designed to consider them all.
- Inaccurate information
The accuracy of these calculators depends on the information they use. If the calculator relies on outdated VA compensation rates or lacks the most recent rules and criteria, it may provide inaccurate estimates. Also, some of these calculators may be pretty confusing, making it unclear which data you need to enter.
- No guarantees
An online calculator doesn’t guarantee the same results as an official VA rating. The VA has trained professionals who assess each case individually, taking into account the specific medical evidence provided by the Veteran.
- Complex Cases
Calculators are normally useless for complex cases with multiple service-connected disabilities, secondary conditions, or unique circumstances.
- Privacy Concerns
Privacy is generally a big concern when it comes to entering any data on the Internet, and when it comes to such sensitive information as your medical records, you should be on guard about entering anything but basic information
So What’s the Verdict?
Online VA calculators can give you a rough idea of potential disability compensation, but they should not be relied upon as the final word on your eligibility or benefits.
Your next step should be working with a knowledgeable professional who can guide you through the process of claiming your VA disability benefits and help you make informed decisions to maximize your compensation.
Getting the Most out of an Online VA Calculator
As a company founded by Veterans for Veterans, we still understand how frustrating it can be to understand the principles of the VA rating system. Here are some guidelines that will help you find a more reliable online tool and get the most accurate results.
- Schematic images
Use calculators with images of a human body that help you easily identify affected areas. This feature can make it easier to input your conditions accurately and get more precise results.
- Multiple-condition input
A good online VA calculator allows you to input several service-related conditions for each area of the body. It is an essential feature if you have multiple disabilities.
- Bilateral conditions
Look for a calculator that considers the additional 10% rating for bilateral conditions, which affect both sides of the body. This feature simplifies the calculation process and makes it more accurate.
- Includes factors like marriage status and kids
Parameters like marriage status, the health condition of your spouse, the number of children, and other dependents are crucial for calculating monthly disability compensation and benefits. The more factors like this you can enter, the more accurate the result will be.
- Up-to-date VA rates
VA rates are adjusted annually. That is why it is essential to seek a calculator from a company that keeps abreast of the latest VA updates and can adjust their online VA calculators accordingly.
VCU’s Online Calculator
Here at VCU, we did our best to consider all the benefits and pitfalls of the existing online tools for calculating VA benefits and created our own VA calculator to help Veterans get more accurate estimates on their VA disability rating.
We believe that our calculator is good starting point in the process of claiming your VA disability benefits. Try out the VCU Online VA Calculator today!After that make sure to book a free consultation with one of our Veteran Specialists. Together, we’ll make sure that you have a professional and strategic plan and all the knowledge and tools you need to get the disability benefits you deserve.