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.

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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