Why Veterans Need to Get Above a 20 Percent Rating

VA pays compensation to veterans at different monthly rates depending on how high of a disability rating they receive.  But, the rating is not the only factor that determines benefits for veterans.  Some veterans receive benefits for dependents while other veterans do not.

In essence, VA imposes a penalty on veterans who have a total disability rating of under 30 percent.  Those veterans do not receive additional benefits for their dependents.

You may have heard politicians talking about the Marriage Penalty in Federal Tax Law.  VA essentially has a dependents penalty for veterans with a total rating under 30 percent.

Senior man using laptop computer with headache and eyes closed How does this VA penalty work?

The penalty would apply to any veterans who have the following ratings:

  • A single service connected condition rated at 20 percent;
  • A single service connected condition rated at 10 percent;
  • Two service connected conditions which are each rated at 10 percent;

In each one of these situations, the veteran would have a total rating of either 10 or 20 percent.  Since the veteran has a total rating of less than 30 percent, VA does not consider the veteran’s dependents when paying benefits.

What is the effect on the veteran of not receiving benefits for dependents?

The effect in a monthly benefit can be substantial.  Let me point out one example where increasing a rating from 20 percent to 30 percent results in a monthly benefit increase of over $340 for a veteran with dependents.

Let’s consider two different veterans.  One veteran is single with no dependents.  The other veteran is married with 4 children under 18 and a dependent parent.

If both veterans have a total VA disability rating of 20 percent, then they receive the same monthly benefit of $269.30.  The single veteran with no dependents will receive the same monthly benefit as the veteran with six dependents.

Now, let’s consider what happens if both these veterans are rated at a 30 percent total rating.  The single veteran will receive a monthly benefit of $417.15.

The veteran with a spouse, 4 children under 18, and a dependent parent will receive a monthly benefit of $614.15.  This is almost a $345 a month increase (over $4,000 a year) from what that veteran would receive at the 20% rating level.

In this example, being able to receive benefits for dependents increases this veteran’s monthly benefit by almost $200 above what a veteran without dependents receives.  This increased benefit can make a big difference to veterans who have dependents who rely on them financially.

I see many situations in my practice where veterans receive a 10 or 20 percent rating when they probably should have qualified for a rating of 30 or 40 percent.  If they have dependents, these veterans have an extra incentive to make sure VA gives them the correct rating.  The correct rating will mean they get paid the correct monthly benefit and will also mean that they receive benefits for their dependents.

Female psychologist treating male patient for PTSD What should I do if I receive a 20 percent VA rating?

If you receive a 20 percent VA rating, you should always question it.  It is especially important to question a rating at the 20 percent level because there is such a difference between 20 percent and 30 percent.

You could have several options available to you.  You may need to appeal the rating from VA.  Be aware that there are time limits for you to file your appeal which differ depending on where you are in the VA appeals process.  So, you will want to act quickly to make sure that you do not miss any deadlines.

If it is too late for you to file an appeal, you may need to file a claim for an increased rating.  This can provide you with an opportunity to get the higher rating if it is too late for you to appeal.  But, you will probably be giving up backpay benefits that you might could get through an appeal.  So, an appeal may be the best option if you still have time to do that.

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
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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
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