Many veterans get frustrated with VA and the time that it takes to receive the benefits they should. While VA has a duty to assist veterans with their claims, it may often feel like they are not doing that. When veterans finally do receive a decision, that decision often has errors.
These frustrations sometimes make veterans reluctant to pursue their VA claims. Even when their service-connected disabilities get worth, they may delay filing for increased ratings because they just do not want to deal with the hassle. Some veterans with service-connected disabilities do not file for benefits at all.
Is it worth pursuing a 100% VA rating?
Veterans have to consider the value to them when they decide whether to pursue a claim. Filing a claim with VA does take some time, and proving a 100% rating can be difficult.
One value to a veteran of a 100% rating is the monthly benefit paid by VA. This amount varies depending on the veterans marital status and dependents and is subject to change each year. But, there is a substantial amount of difference between the monthly amount paid with a 90% rating and the amount paid with a 100% rating.
Let’s take the situation of a single veteran who is not married and has no dependents. In 2018, that veteran is going to receive $2,973 and some change each month for a 100% VA disability rating.
If a veteran is married, then that benefit amount increases to a little more than $3,139. In some situations, a married veteran with several children might end up receiving as much as $3,500 to $4,000 per month.
It is also important to remember that these benefits are tax free. So, the value of a 100% rating is even more when you consider that you do not have to pay taxes on the benefits..
Why does a 100% rating pay so much more than a 90% rating?
The idea behind VA ratings is that they compensate veterans for a lack of earning capacity or a diminished earning capacity. Of course, they cannot do this completely accurately because certain service-connected disabilities might affect the earning capacity of one veteran a lot more than another veteran. But, VA generally just assigns the same value to each percent rating.
For most VA ratings levels, a 10% increase in overall rating means an increase in monthly benefit of anywhere from $150 to $250. But, an increase of 10% from a 90% rating to a 100% rating results in an increase of around $1,200.
There is certainly some reasoning behind the large increase. A 100% VA rating means that veterans have shown that they are unable to work by proving TDIU or that they have been able to get to a 100% schedular rating even when VA math often makes it difficult to do so.
Veterans who have shown this have either demonstrated that their service-connected disabilities prevent them from working or that they have severe enough service connected disabilities that they would prevent most people from working. There is a big difference between being able to work and earn some money despite service-connected disabilities and not being able to work and earn money. The pay rate difference between a 90% rating and a 100% rating recognizes that big difference.
Are there other benefits associated with a 100% rating?
Yes. There are other benefits associated with a 100% rating. One benefit for veterans with a spouse or children is that it increases the chances that their spouse or children may qualify for DIC benefits. The spouse and children of veterans who are rated at 100 percent for 10 years can automatically qualify for DIC benefits without having to prove that the veteran’s death is service connected. This can provide a great comfort for veterans since it essentially becomes a form of life insurance.
Do I have to choose either TDIU or schedular when I pursue a 100% rating?
No, you do not have to choose between TDIU or a schedular 100% rating. You can pursue both. Unfortunately, many veterans are not aware of this and will choose to pursue one or the other.
Most often, this comes up when a veteran seeks an increased rating. I speak to many veterans who feel that they have to choose to pursue schedular or TDIU instead of pursuing both.
Many of these veterans have a combined rating in the range of 60 to 90 percent. They are often having difficulty obtaining or maintaining employment. They may succeed in getting an increase rating to the 100% schedular level. But, even if they fail to do that, they might be able to claim TDIU.
To give yourself the best chance of getting to a 100% rating, it is often best to apply for both. In the legal world, we call this pleading in the alternative. It is really just saying that there are two ways that you can qualify for the benefits of a 100% rating.
If you ask for both, VA should consider you for both. There will not be any sort of penalty or detriment to your claim that you sought both because all you are doing really is saying that you want an increase one way or the other.