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Bilateral Factor

Definition The Bilateral Factor is a term used in the VA benefits system and refers to a percentage rating assigned when a veteran has service-connected disabilities affecting both the left and right sides of their body, such as both arms or legs. This factor takes into consideration the combined effect of disabilities on the body’s […]


The Bilateral Factor is a term used in the VA benefits system and refers to a percentage rating assigned when a veteran has service-connected disabilities affecting both the left and right sides of their body, such as both arms or legs. This factor takes into consideration the combined effect of disabilities on the body’s overall efficiency. The Bilateral Factor is then used in calculating the combined disability rating, potentially leading to higher compensation for the veteran.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Bilateral Factor is a concept used by the VA to recognize and compensate for the additional impact of having disabilities on both sides of the body, such as having injuries or conditions affecting both arms or legs.
  2. When calculating a veteran’s combined disability rating, the Bilateral Factor adds an extra percentage to address the potential increased severity and functional impairment caused by having bilateral disabilities.
  3. Not all conditions are eligible for the Bilateral Factor, and it is typically applied to paired conditions such as loss or decreased functioning of limbs, hearing impairment in both ears, and eye conditions affecting both eyes.


The term “Bilateral Factor” holds significant importance in the context of VA benefits as it acknowledges the additional impact on a veteran’s overall disability when they suffer from service-connected impairments affecting both sides of their body, such as in both arms or both legs.

This factor ensures that a veteran receives additional compensation for their bilateral disabilities, as they often face greater functional limitations and challenges in completing daily tasks compared to those with unilateral disabilities.

By incorporating the Bilateral Factor, the VA aims to provide better support for the unique circumstances these veterans face, ultimately recognizing the increased severity of bilateral disabilities and ensuring appropriate compensation that helps improve their quality of life.


The Bilateral Factor serves a vital purpose in the calculation of disability ratings for veterans. Essentially, it recognizes that certain disabilities or impairments have a more profound effect on a veteran’s overall ability to function when they involve both sides of the body.

This is an important aspect of the VA benefits system, as it ensures that veterans receive adequate compensation for the extent of their disabilities, taking into consideration the compounding impact of bilateral issues on their overall well-being and ability to perform daily activities. In practical terms, the Bilateral Factor is used in conjunction with the Combined Ratings Table to determine a veteran’s total disability rating percentage.

When a veteran has impairments on both sides of their body, an additional factor is added to the disability rating to account for the increased impact of the bilateral impairments on the veteran’s overall functionality. This additional percentage is intended to more accurately reflect the true severity of the veteran’s condition, thus ensuring that they receive appropriate compensation and support from the VA benefits system.

Ultimately, the Bilateral Factor serves as an essential tool to promote fairness and equity in the provision of assistance to disabled veterans.

Examples of Bilateral Factor

The Bilateral Factor is a term associated with the VA (Veterans Affairs) Disability Rating System in the United States. It accounts for the effect of having disabilities in both extremities in pairs, such as both arms, or both legs, which can sometimes have a more significant impact on a veteran’s ability to function than having disabilities in just one extremity. Here are three real-world examples:

Example 1: A veteran has amputations of both legs due to injuries sustained during active duty. The VA would consider this a bilateral factor for determining their disability rating, as the combined loss of both legs has a more significant effect on their overall function and ability to work than losing just one leg would.

Example 2: A service member has extensive nerve damage in both hands due to exposure to a blast during active duty. This damage affects their dexterity and the ability to perform daily tasks. The VA recognizes this as a bilateral factor, as the inability to properly use both hands has a greater impact on daily life than damage to only one hand.

Example 3: A veteran has sustained severe arthritis in both knees due to wear and tear during their military service. The pain and functional limitations resulting from arthritis in both knees would qualify as a bilateral factor, taking into account the greater impact on mobility and the ability to perform daily activities compared to having just one affected knee.In each of these examples, the bilateral factor can enhance the disability rating awarded by the VA, relative to individual or unrelated disabilities, to provide appropriate compensation for the added difficulties these paired disabilities may impose on the veteran’s life.

FAQ – Bilateral Factor

What is the bilateral factor in VA benefits?

The bilateral factor is a consideration in the Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits system that takes into account the impact of disabilities on both the left and right sides of a veteran’s body. The bilateral factor is intended to provide a higher disability rating and compensation to veterans who experience an added functional loss due to the disabilities affecting both sides of their body.

How is the bilateral factor calculated?

The bilateral factor is calculated by adding the individual disability ratings for each pair of disabilities that affect both sides of the body, and then multiplying the combined rating by an additional 10% to account for the greater functional impact. This new rating, adjusted for bilateral factor, is then evaluated within the context of the Combined Rating Table to determine the veteran’s overall disability rating and compensation level.

Which disabilities qualify for the bilateral factor?

Disabilities that qualify for the bilateral factor consideration typically involve paired extremities, including arms, legs, hands, feet, and ears. Examples include amputations, limited range of motion, joint issues, or hearing loss. It’s important to note that not all paired body part disabilities will qualify – only those that meet the criteria for the bilateral factor as defined by the VA regulations will be considered.

How does the bilateral factor affect the VA disability rating?

The impact of the bilateral factor is evaluated within the Combined Rating Table, which determines the veteran’s overall disability rating. When a veteran has qualifying disabilities affecting both sides of their body, the bilateral factor will generally result in a higher disability rating than if the veteran had the same disabilities, but only on one side of the body. This higher rating usually leads to increased financial compensation for the veteran.

How do I apply for VA benefits with the bilateral factor?

To apply for VA benefits and have the bilateral factor considered, you must submit a VA disability claim through the VA’s Vets.gov website or by visiting your local VA office. In your claim, indicate that you have disabilities affecting both sides of your body that you believe qualify for the bilateral factor. The VA will then evaluate your claim and determine whether the bilateral factor is applicable and whether it will result in a higher disability rating and increased compensation for you.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Service-Connected Disability
  • Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam
  • Disability Ratings
  • Veterans Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD)
  • Combined Disability Rating

Sources for More Information

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