Higher VA Disability Ratings

Most veterans who contact us have received a denial of service connection or a low disability rating from VA. Many other veterans contact us because they have a service-connected and rating for a medical condition, but that medical condition has now worsened.

Often, veterans have developed another medical condition because of their service connected medical condition. In all of these situations, veterans usually are entitled to a higher overall disability rating which will pay an increased monthly benefit amount.

Light duty job 2 How to get a higher VA disability rating in your initial application

Filing a notice of disagreement

Many veterans consider filing a notice of disagreement when VA denies service connection for a particular medical condition. However, not as many veterans consider filing a notice of disagreement when VA grants service connection but gives a low rating.

You should always consider filing a notice of disagreement if you receive a rating decision:

  • Denying service connection; or
  • Granting service connection but giving too low a rating.

Filing a notice of disagreement preserves your rights and allows your claim to be reconsidered. If service-connection was not granted by VA, that can often be corrected by filing a notice of disagreement. If the disability rating given by VA was too low, that can also be corrected.

VA often makes errors in its rating decisions. But, if a notice of disagreement is not filed on time, you will give up the right to appeal that denial. While VA disability claims can usually be reopened later, you almost always will give up your right to any accrued disability benefits.  Many times, these accrued benefits can be tens of thousands of dollars.

Getting a higher disability rating after your initial application

Even after the your initial claims have been finally decided, you can still get higher disability ratings from VA.  There are three main ways to do this:

  1. Proving that your initial disability rating has increased
  2. Filing for service connection for another condition
  3. Proving that a secondary condition has developed

Filing for an increased rating

We have spoken to a number of veterans who did not realize they could file for an increased rating.  A veteran is eligible for an increased rating when a service connected conditions worsens to the point that it would entitle the veteran to a higher rating using the rating tables published in the Code of Federal Regulations.  For example, a veteran with diabetes that is manageable by diet only would have an increased rating if the veteran starts requiring oral medication and/or insulin injections.

Remember: To get benefits for an increased rating, you have to file an application for the increased rating.

Filing for service connection for another medical condition Man with headache trying to fall asleep in bed with medication on nightstand

Another way to get a higher rating is to get another condition service-connected. Some things that can cause you to need to file for service-connection for another condition include:

  • You have been denied service connection for a condition in the past but now have additional evidence to show the condition is service connected – you can file for service connection of a condition that you previously applied for and lost.  Veterans often need to do this if they fail to appeal their denial or if they later develop additional medical or other evidence that their condition is service-connected.
  • You develop a condition that is service-connected – it is fairly common for a veteran to apply for service connection for one or more conditions and then later develop another service connected condition.  For example, a Vietnam veteran who develops diabetes should apply for service connection for that condition because of Agent Orange exposure.  If that veteran later develops Parkinson’s Disease, that veteran should apply for service connection for the Parkinson’s Disease.

If you have a condition from your service that have not yet been “service-connected” by VA or service-connected conditions that have gotten worse, you should strongly consider filing for these conditions as soon as possible.  Waiting to file a claim is almost always not in your best interests.  Usually, waiting will cause you to give up benefits that you should receive since you do not even become potentially eligible for benefits until you file.

Proving a secondary condition

A third way to get to a higher overall rating is to apply for what is known as a secondary condition or secondary disability.  In short, this is a disability that is caused or aggravated by another secondary disability.  These disabilities are eligible for benefits just like the service-connected disability that is the cause.  We will cover this topic more in depth in an upcoming post, so be on the lookout for that.

Many veterans have questions about VA benefits.  We are happy to try to help you address your questions.  Usually, the best way to do this is to get a free consultation.  You can set one up by calling us at (770) 214-8885 or by completing and submitting the consultation request form on this page.

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.

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