Five Ways to Assess a VA Heart Disability Rating

Figuring out your correct VA heart disability rating can be very difficult.  There are so many ways for VA to rate heart conditions.  Also, the ratings criteria are often based on highly technical cardiac test results.

In this article, I will try to give you an overview of cardiac and heart disabilities so you can get a better understanding of where your particular VA heart disability falls on the ratings scale.  VA uses essentially five different criteria to assign ratings levels ranging from 10% to 100%.

What if I have congestive heart failure?

To begin, let’s start at the top at the 100% rating level. One way for VA to rate your cardiac disability is if you have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  That is something that your doctor or cardiologist will determine and should note in your medical records as part of your cardiac assessment and diagnosis.

But, you cannot do this based on your own lay statement or personal judgment.  To establish congestive heart failure, you must have a medical opinion.

Heart attack If you do have this medical evidence of chronic congestive heart failure, VA should rate you at 100% since chronic congestive heart failure is one way to obtain the highest possible schedular rating.  If you have had more than one episode of acute congestive heart failure in the past year, VA should rate you at 60%.

Does VA use METs (Metabolic Equivalent Threshold) score to assign heart disability ratings?

The second way VA rates a heart disability is your METs (Metabolic Equivalent Threshold) score.  A METs score measures how much physical activity you can withstand before you start exhibiting certain cardiac symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Syncope (fainting), or
  • Angina (chest pain).

VA uses METs to rate heart disabilities at any level – 100%, 60%, 30% or 10%.  With METs based ratings, the higher level of exertion you are able to withstand prior to having those symptoms listed above, the higher your METs score.

The higher your METs score, the lower your VA heart disability rating will be.  If you can do more physically before becoming symptomatic, then VA believes your heart is less impaired than someone who becomes symptomatic with less exertion.

VA disability ratings for left ventricular dysfunction

The third way your VA cardiac disability can be rated is based on left ventricular dysfunction.  Left ventricular dysfunction is based on your ejection fraction measurement.  That is a measurement of how much blood your heart pumps out each time it contracts.

This measurement is expressed as a percentage of all the blood in that area of the heart.  The lower the ejection fraction reading, the more dysfunction of the left ventricle of the heart.

A lower ejection fraction reading results in a higher VA heart disability rating.  Left ventricular dysfunction (i.e., left ventricular ejection fraction) is yet another way for a veteran to receive a disability rating at the 100% level or at the 60% level.

VA ratings for cardiac hypertrophy or cardiac dilatation Heart disease

The fourth way VA can rate your heart disability is based on changes in the heart muscle itself.   There are two types of relevant changes:

  1. Cardiac hypertrophy
  2. Cardiac dilatation.

What do these types of changes to the heart muscle mean? Cardiac hypertrophy means a thickening of the heart muscle.  The inside volume of the heart gets smaller because the muscle walls have become thicker.

Cardiac dilatation means essentially the opposite. Instead of getting smaller, the heart enlarges because the heart’s walls are thinning out.

You need to show hypertrophy and dilatation by diagnostic testing.  VA’s cardiac ratings criteria allow for you to show these changes by echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, or x-ray.  If you prove you have either of these structural changes of the heart, you should be entitled to a 30% VA heart disability rating.

Pain medication 2 What if I take medication for a heart condition?

The fifth and final way VA can rate your heart disability helps those veterans who may not qualify under one of the previous 4 methods.  If you don’t qualify for a rating based on the above criteria, you should still qualify for a 10% VA heart disability rating if you must continually take medication on account of your heart condition.

Again, VA should only use this method at the 10% rating level.  But, this method will provide some benefits to those veterans whose heart problems are relatively mild (meaning they don’t have any cardiac symptoms upon exertion, congestive heart failure, or observable anatomical changes in the heart muscle).


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.

Rita BarnesRita Barnes
00:03 20 Jan 22
This is a great group of people who really care about your well being. They all treated me as though I was family and helped me with my work comp case in more ways than the average would have.Thank you Jason and Thank you Tina! For doing an awesome job.
Cortex ButlerCortex Butler
18:09 29 Dec 21
I am a Veteran of United States Air Force and was awarded my first 30% in 1996 and have been fighting for my rating for 26 years I came to Perkins and Studdard in 2019 while my mom was in a terrible incident and was given to much anesthesia and through GODS Grace she was spared her life, She is disabled since 2018 and I have been struggling with my life and issues and yet I didn’t call the law firm every 10 minutes or call being rude anytime, I mentioned this as I got to know Jessica more than just a phone call and Mr Studdard was always available when not working on other cases or in court, They always called back and Never had to do a call back, My Review is Simple in Life there peaks and valleys and it doesn’t stop because you have issues, Perkins & Studdard took my case in 2019 in 2021 I received my 100% from VA, I Was Never Rude, I was Never Promised Success, I Was Never Lied too and I was Always Treated with Respect, Friendliness, and Kindness the Real Stuff not a (Money Thing) If You want a firm that Cares about the Client and will work on your case even through a pandemic, Will not lie, will not promise anything will communicate your case and will Give you their Best ALWAYS THIS IS THE Best Law Firm for VETS HANDS DOWN Perkins and Studdard THERE IS NO OTHER 100% we had 5 calls Total Case That’s Taking Care Of Business
annetteMomma nokesannetteMomma nokes
14:29 12 Sep 16
Jason and his paralegal Lisa were on point and on top of their game when it came to handling my worker's comp. injury case. I tried going it alone and the insurance carrier pushed me around. They denied extra physical therapy. They denied injections the doctor recommended to ease my pain. When I turned my case over to Jason things turned around, QUICK. They were at all times attentive and on top of my case. I cannot recommend Jason and his staff enough. If you are hurt at work, this is the firm you want on YOUR side.
Sheila KirklinSheila Kirklin
23:11 12 May 16
Jason Perkins, was my lawyer in a workers comp. case, my case has settled now, and I am very happy for all Jason and his office hard work on my case, he was always there to help me out with any questions that I had or help I needed. Jason is a excellent lawyer and if I ever need another one I would only go to Perkins,Because I believe they would be able to help me in any situation I am in need of..
Anna PabonAnna Pabon
23:16 13 Sep 15
I recommend Perkins Law Firm. Everyone I came in contact with there was very nice. Kim was very helpful and any time I had a question she made sure I got an answer. Ann Margaret really took the time to explain things to me.

Related Posts


Font Size: