Will an Increased Rating Affect my VA Disability Income?

The National Center for Veteran Analysis and Statistics tells us that in recent years first time applicants are being awarded higher disability ratings than ever before. Almost 25% of first time awards offer the veteran between 70% and 100% disability rating. Yet nearly 40% of first time applicants are only awarded a disability rating between 0% and 20%. That number leaves a lot of opportunity for an increased rating or supplemental benefits to aid in a veteran’s monthly income.

Does an increased rating mean I will receive more VA disability benefits?

Not necessarily.  You would think that a higher rating would automatically mean a larger monthly VA disability check.  But, that is not always the case; it could be that a small increase in rating has zero effect on your amount of benefits.

This is usually the case when you are already rated fairly highly (60% or more) and receive a small increase (say 10%).  It is not as simple as 60% + 10% equals 70%.  VA regulations require the use of combined ratings tables, which are complex formulas where one plus one is not always two.

An experienced veterans disability attorney can assess your particular situation to see if you are likely to see an increase in benefits with an increased rating.

If a higher rating does not mean I am automatically entitled to more money, is it even worth seeking an increased rating?

Knowing you may be facing a years long fight with the VA for an increased rating, and now knowing that a higher rating does not automatically mean more monthly VA disability income, you may be asking yourself why anyone would seek an increased rating.  While every situation is different, a consultation with one of Perkins Studdard’s veterans disability attorneys may reveal that an extra 10% or 20% makes a significant financial difference for you each month.  You may also be surprised that sometimes 1 + 1 = 3 when using “VA math.”

Let’s explore a few possibilities to see how a 10 or 20% increase in rating can affect your bottom line. The following chart shows disability compensation for a single veteran with no dependents both before and after an increased rating.

Increased benefits for a single veteran

VA determines disability compensation benefit amounts by using the veteran’s disability rating and his or her family status.  Because of this, income will vary based upon marital status and the number of dependents. The following chart shows benefits for a veteran with a spouse and one child.

Income chart showing current and increased rating for veteran and family

As you can see from these charts , a small increase in disability rating can often substantially increase the amount of disability compensation payments.  This is especially true when you increase your rating from 50% to 60% (or in other situations from 60% to 70%).  This increase can make you eligible for “extraschedular rating”.

Extraschedular rating can bring TDIU (also known as total disability based on individual unemployability, individual unemployability, or IU) into play.  If you are at these ratings levels and meet other qualifications, you may qualify for payment at the 100% level.  So, that increase of 10% could really pay as much as another 40% increase.

How Could My Disability Rating Increase?

After an initial rating, subsequent exams may reveal further disability resulting in a higher rating. On the other hand, routine exams may reveal increased functionality resulting in a reduced rating. A veteran can also appeal a decision and request that VA reevaluate their initial rating. Alternatively, a veteran’s rating might stay the same but VA may award TDIU which results in payment of benefits as if the veterans were 100% disabled.


As you can probably see by now, increased ratings claims can become highly complex.  The VA can use this to their advantage and your disadvantage.

If you have questions, I would be happy to review your case and see if I can help.  The best way to do that is usually a free veterans disability benefits consultation.

Just take a look at this article to find out more about how a consultation works.  If you would to set up a free consultation, just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit this short 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.

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
Travis has been a blessing to our family, he left no stone unturned and delivered the "W" for my VA claim. Every bit of my experience with the Perkins Studdard team was respectful and they demonstrated their appreciation for our service as veterans. I highly recommend this Law Firm and truly appreciate their willingness to stand on my behalf.M L

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