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Disability Rating System


The Disability Rating System is a method used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to evaluate the severity of a veteran’s service-connected disability. The system assigns a percentage rating, ranging from 0% to 100%, which determines the level of compensation and benefits a veteran will receive. A higher rating signifies a more severe disability, leading to increased financial support and access to various VA services.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Disability Rating System is used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine the level of disability and compensation for veterans who have service-connected disabilities.
  2. Disability ratings are assigned in increments of 10%, ranging from 0% to 100%, with higher percentages reflecting greater degrees of disability and entitlement to increased benefits.
  3. The VA evaluates each disability based on a specific schedule and criteria, taking into account the severity of the condition, its impact on employability, and capacity to perform daily activities.


The VA benefits term “Disability Rating System” is crucial for veterans because it determines the extent of an individual’s service-connected disabilities and their eligibility for benefits.

This percentage-based evaluation system reflects the severity of a veteran’s impairments and ensures fair compensation for the sacrifices they have made while serving their country.

By assessing a veteran’s physical, mental, and emotional health, the Disability Rating System helps allocate essential resources such as financial assistance, healthcare support, and other services to those who need it the most, thereby enabling veterans to lead a higher quality of life post their service tenure.


The Disability Rating System is a critical aspect of the VA benefits program, designed to objectively assess the degree of a veteran’s service-connected disability. Its primary purpose is to determine the extent to which a veteran’s ability to function in daily life has been impacted by their injuries and illnesses incurred or aggravated during their military service. The VA utilizes a standardized process to evaluate medical evidence and assign a disability percentage ranging from 0% to 100% in increments of 10.

This ensures a consistent and equitable approach to awarding compensation, taking into account the specific needs and circumstances of individual veterans. The higher the disability rating, the greater the level of impairment, which directly influences the amount of monthly compensation they receive. The Disability Rating System plays a vital role in providing support and resources to veterans and their families as they navigate the challenges associated with service-related disabilities.

By quantifying the severity of each individual’s impairment, the system allows equitable access to financial assistance, healthcare services, vocational rehabilitation, and other vital benefits tailored to the unique needs of each veteran. Consequently, this system serves to honor the sacrifices made by service members, by helping to foster their reintegration into civilian life, and contributing to improved overall quality of life for those who have selflessly served their country. Ultimately, the Disability Rating System serves as an essential tool to acknowledge, support, and compensate our veterans for the physical and mental hardships they endured in the line of duty.

Examples of Disability Rating System

The Disability Rating System is a framework used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine the level of disability a veteran is experiencing due to a service-related injury or illness. Here are three real-world examples:

Example 1: A veteran suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their military service. They submit a claim to the VA, which evaluates their symptoms and assigns a disability rating. If the PTSD has a significant impact on their ability to work and perform daily activities, they might be assigned a 70% disability rating. This rating will determine the amount of monthly disability compensation they receive and may also affect access to additional VA benefits.

Example 2: A veteran experiences hearing loss and tinnitus due to exposure to loud noises during their service. Their evaluation by the VA determines that their hearing loss is mild and assigns a 10% disability rating for the hearing loss and 10% for the tinnitus. These ratings will be combined using VA rules, which results in a 19% overall disability rating. The veteran then receives monthly compensation based on this rating.

Example 3: A veteran has multiple service-related injuries, including a traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic back pain, and a knee injury. Each condition is evaluated separately by the VA, resulting in a 40% rating for the TBI, 20% for the back pain, and 10% for the knee injury. Using the VA’s combined ratings table, these individual ratings result in a final combined disability rating of 60%. The veteran’s disability compensation and access to other VA benefits will be based on this combined rating.


FAQ – Disability Rating System

1. What is the disability rating system?

A disability rating system is a tool used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine the percentage of disability arising from a service-connected injury or illness. The percentage reflects the severity of a veteran’s disability, with higher percentages indicating greater disability and lesser ability to perform daily activities.

2. How is a disability rating calculated?

The VA calculates the disability rating by considering the evidence submitted, including service treatment records, medical examinations, and private medical records. VA also takes into account the severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms, as well as the specific impact of a condition on the veteran’s ability to work and perform daily activities.

3. What does a disability rating percentage mean?

A disability rating percentage represents the extent of a service-connected disability, measured in increments of 10%. The rating levels range from 0% to 100%, with higher percentages reflecting more severe disabilities. The percentage is used to determine the amount of disability compensation a veteran will receive each month.

4. Is it possible to have a combined disability rating greater than 100%?

No, the maximum combined disability rating is capped at 100%. However, VA uses a unique mathematical formula to calculate the combined disability rating, which may result in a combined rating of two or more disabilities that is less than the sum of the individual ratings. This ensures that the final rating accurately represents the overall impairment caused by multiple disabilities.

5. Can a disability rating be changed after it has been assigned?

Yes, a disability rating can be changed if there is an improvement or worsening of the service-connected condition. A veteran may request a reevaluation of their disability rating if new and relevant medical evidence is available, or if they believe the original rating was not accurately determined. Additionally, the VA periodically reevaluates certain conditions to ensure that the assigned rating remains accurate.


Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Percentage of disability
  • Service-connected conditions
  • Veterans benefits eligibility
  • Compensation rates
  • Combined disability rating

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Official website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs providing information on various VA benefits, including the Disability Rating System.
  • Veterans Benefits Administration: A part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offering detailed information about the VA benefits and the Disability Rating System.
  • Military.com: A comprehensive website focused on serving the U.S. military community, providing information on a wide range of topics including VA benefits and the Disability Rating System.
  • Vets.gov: A government website offering useful information on various topics for U.S. veterans, including the VA Disability Rating System and other related benefits.