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.

I could not have asked for a better lawyer to represent my worker comp. case. Any questions I had during the process was always answered in a timely manner. Mr. Perkins really cared about insuring that I wasn't being taken advantage of during this process and helped us reach a settlement that I feel comfortable with. I would recommend this firm to my parents or children.syndel Laber
I'm so thankful and grateful for all the hard work Jason, Tina and Liz did for me. They went above and beyond to get the best outcome for me. They took the to explain everything that was going on with my case again I'm so thankful grateful and happy with the outcome of my workers comp case.Adrian Adams
First off, I must say thank you again to the office of Perkins Studdard. I appreciate all the hard work and dedication your office has shown to achieve a successful and happy outcome. You have forever changed my family’s life! Also, I wanted to give a special shoutout to Jessica Hyatt for her excellent attitude, advice, and overall professionalism throughout every step of this process. This journey has finally been complete after more than a decade of being denied and almost giving up. However, two of my old coworkers advised me that the office of Perkins Studdard had also successfully helped them achieve their proper rating too. Needless to say, this has been one of my best decisions in life. I can now sleep a little better and stress free knowing I finally got what I deserved all along. Once again, thank you for everything! And shoutout to Travis Studdard, “we did it.” Respectfully, Jonathon FloresJonathon Flores
My family and I are so grateful for Jason Perkins and his team. Jason explains thing's to detail and walks you through every step of your case. I would highly recommend Perkins Studdard for your legal needs. Thank you so much Jason and Tina!Chapin & Lea Anne Warner
The best I know for workers comp attorney'sDenise Williams
Jason really has helped me so much through this hard experience I have went through! And the ladies in the office was wonderful with any and everything I had questions about! I highly recommend using this lawyer office to everyone and Jason Perkins for sure!! Thank y'all for everything and making it easier to get through this long though experience! James HammittJames Hammitt
Thank you so much ! I received excellent representation from the entire Perkins Studdard Law firm, my VA claim was resolved and granted in a timely manner, they were hands on with me during the entire process. I would definitely recommend the firm to any veteran deciding to file a VA claim.Darrell Lynn
I would like to thank the law firm of Perkins-Studdard (Travis) and his team, for performing such an outstanding job, at every possible level, during my recent situation with the VA Disability Claims . From the first time I called and spoke with Mr Studdard with an overview of my situation, until the final settlement was executed (successfully I may add), I always felt that I was in good hands with this firm. Everyone in the office, Jessica, and April were responsive, approachable, knowledgeable, good listeners, and extremely professional. Mr. Studdard was realistic of the circumstances and of the potential difficult process that would lay ahead, should I proceed. I can’t say enough about Travis, and I will always be thankful to him. Travis was committed, and he instilled a real sense of confidence during both the highs and the lows. He ultimately prevailed and the outcome was very much in my favor. Of course, each case is different on its own merits and one can never predict how things ultimately will turn out. All I know is that the settlement far exceeded my expectation. Mr. Studdard has been a blessing to me. I strongly recommend that anyone who would find themselves in a similar legal situation with the VA to contact Law Offices of Perkins Studdard for a consultation. It was a very positive experience given the circumstances. Thank you again, I shall forever be in your debt.Concetta Hogg
Mr. Perkins, I cannot express enough how thankful I am for your exceptional representation. Your hard work, expertise, and unwavering commitment to my case have left an indelible mark. Thanks to you, I can now move forward with my life, confident that justice has been served.Esli Roque
Travis and his team have been a blessing for me and my family. They have done an amazing job in helping me navigate the VA appeals process. They kept their eye on the ball all the way through the long, difficult and confusing process. I highly recommend Travis and his team because thanks to their professionalism and know how, I got the benefits I deserve.Daniel patriot

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