Does VA Math Ever Help You Get a Higher VA Rating?

Many veterans have multiple disabilities as a result of their military service.  Unfortunately, VA math for combined ratings often punishes these veterans since the combined rating that they receive is almost always less than the sum of their individual ratings.

But, one part of VA’s rules allows veterans to actually use math in their favor.  TDIU is an area where VA recognizes that a veteran may be entitled to a 100 percent disability rating even though their individual ratings do not add up to 100 percent.  In this article, I will talk a little bit about why VA does that in TDIU claims.

Female doctor with older man showing xray of spine and back at hospital Why does VA assign the ratings that they do?

VA uses a part of the Code of Federal Regulations to assign ratings for disabilities.  These regulations discuss all sorts of different medical conditions as well as the different ratings levels that may be assigned for those conditions.

The basic idea behind the rating system is that the rating reflects how a particular condition affects your ability to earn money.  So, VA is really looking at economic impairment when it assigns a rating.  TDIU is a fundamental part of that rating system because it assesses what happens when service-connected disabilities make you unemployable.

How does TDIU make VA math work in my favor?

Most of the time, VA math works against you.  For example, you might have the following ratings:

  • 40%
  • 20%
  • 20%
  • 10%
  • 10%

If you add up those ratings, you get to 100 percent.  However, VA math does not work that way.  Using VA’s math for combining ratings, those 5 ratings give you a 70 percent rating.  So, VA math really seems to hurt you.

But TDIU allows you to use VA math in your favor in a couple of ways.  Consider those ratings again.  A veteran who has at least one rating of 40 percent and a combined rating of 70 percent can potentially qualify for TDIU if the veteran meets VA’s definition of unemployable.  If the veteran qualifies for TDIU, the veteran receives benefits at the 100 percent rating level.

Why does VA’s math make sense in a TDIU claim?

One of the things I see a lot is the combined effects of disabilities.  What I mean by that is that multiple disabilities can cause a greater degree of earnings impairment than individual disabilities would alone.

Let me explain a little bit more about what I mean.  Consider the situation of a veteran who has a back disability and service-connected PTSD.  I mentioned this situation in a previous article because I see it fairly often.

Taken alone, these two disabilities might not impair the veteran’s earnings significantly.  But, together they can rule out almost all work because the veteran is restricted from doing physical jobs by the back injury and the PTSD often prevents the veteran from doing less physical work because that less physical work often involves more stress and interaction with people.

So, when you are a veteran that suffers from two or more disabilities, you may often suffer greater earnings impairment than VA’s rating indicate.  Unfortunately, VA math for combined ratings usually assumes exactly the opposite.  They assume that your second disability is not as disabling as your first and your third is not as disabling as your second and so on.  So, you end up with a lower overall rating in most cases.

Will VA automatically realize this and give me a rating that reflects how my service-connected conditions affect me?

No.  There are a couple of things working against veterans when they try to use VA math in their favor:

  1. VA really only uses the “sum can be greater than the parts” math in TDIU claims.  In pretty much all other claims, they are going to use their regular VA math and say that the sum is less than the parts.  So, you will need to be a veteran with a 60 percent individual rating or a veteran with a combined rating of 70 percent and a least one individual rating of 40 percent to take advantage of this.
  2. Veterans will likely have to provide VA with evidence showing the combined effect of their conditions because VA’s system of evaluation does not usually take into account the combined effect of your conditions

Man with injured back walking with cane Let me talk in more detail about that second point.  Lots of times, VA sends you to a doctor for one particular condition.  Let’s say they have you evaluated by a cardiologist for your heart condition.  Then, they send you to an orthopedic doctor to have your knees evaluated.

The orthopedic doctor will likely only look at the knees and not consider your heart.  The cardiologist will likely only consider your heart but not your knees.  For TDIU purposes, VA should consider the combined effect of these two conditions.  While each individual condition may not make you unemployable, you should qualify for TDIU is if your service-connected conditions combine to make you unemployable.

Because of this, you may need to develop your own evidence.  You could need a medical expert of conduct a general evaluation which considers all of your service-connected conditions.  Another way is to get the input of a vocational expert, who is someone that looks at the limitations imposed by your disabilities and then looks at the combined effect of those from a vocational or job standpoint

You need to make sure that VA considers the combined effect of your disabilities to make sure you have the best chance of succeeding in a TDIU claim.

What should I do if I need help?

TDIU is one of the most complicated areas of VA law.  You need to make sure that you file the write documents to apply for it and that you have the evidence to show VA that you meet its definition of unemployable as a result of your service-connected disabilities.

I have seen many veterans with serious service connected disabilities struggle to keep a job.  Because of that, our veterans disability team has made it a focus to help veterans with their TDIU claims.

If you would like us to review your TDIU claim to determine if we can help you, you can do that for free.  If you have questions about how our firms free consultation process works, just read this short article to find out more.

If you would like to go ahead and start our free consultation process, there are two easy ways to get started.  Just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit our free consultation request form.

Travis Studdard is an attorney who focuses on representing veterans in VA disability compensation claims.  He regularly writes about issues that are important to veterans and their families.

You can subscribe to his Veterans Disability channel on YouTube.

Thank you Jason and Tina for everything you've done. Much appreciated. Great law firm! Great results!! Thank you!!! (Austin and Valerie)Valerie Mellinger
Travis and the team working on my VA claim are awesome. I’m happy with their integrity and diligence on working on my claim.Chris “Greybeard” Mullennix
I can't express enough how great it was to work with Perkins Studdard. They are extremely knowledgeable, professional and keep you aware of everything happening with your case. Very friendly from the front office to Mr. Perkins. I would HIGHLY recommend Perkins Studdard!James Strickland
I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
Such an awesome team. They spoke to me like a person and helped me through every decision with knowledge.Kevin Collett
Highly recommend this firm. Did exactly what they said they were going to and fairly timely. The VA is sometimes extremely difficult to navigate but this took all the leg work away from me and got me the result I thought was fair.Andrew Boone
Amazing staff, very informed along with excellent communication. Within just a few weeks of work, Mr Studdard was able to make things happen that normally take years! Highly recommendJacob Sylvester
Perkins Studdard LLC is the place you need to be if you have a Workers Comp case going on! Mr. Jason Perkins and his staff get the results that you need. They work with you and fight for you.Coming from another lawyer my husband and I were really surprised and appreciated the communication and honesty and understanding throughout the entire process. My husband loves the videos because they held so much information and helped him understand what what was going on. Thank you so much for representing us!!!Deborah Tompkins
I highly recommend Jason Perkins and the Team at Perkins and Studdard. Jason did a wonderful job on my case and actually got me better results than what I was hoping for. He was always so patient with me and made sure I was understanding every process in my case. He never seemed to mind me asking questions and always gave me straightforward answers. My phone calls to him or his staff were promptly answered or returned and everyone was always so helpful, personable, and respectful. He kept me updated on all the details of my case and sent helpful videos for me to review that were very informative.Dru Vaughn

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