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 saw Travis on some YouTube videos. It was the way he worded things, I just felt compelled to contact them about my situation, he seemed trustworthy. Travis told me he thought he could help me. I was hesitant, but proceeded. The claim process was long, but my claim was granted. They are organized and punctual. Jessica and Travis are a strong team. I feel the Lord led me to Perkins & Studdard. I consider Travis an advocate and friend. ThanksCorby Reese
It has been a pleasure working with Jason and firm, very knowledgeable and professional, He did awesome job to get settlement that I need for my workmen comp case which was fair in my case, cause the insurance company was trying low ball me and not give me nothing but Jason fix that ….I truly recommend Perkins&studdard any workmen comp case that you have and also want thank Tina also for helping me along this process Thank you Perkins&studdardjahbari swint
Thank you Jason and Tina for everything you've done. Much appreciated. Great law firm! Great results!! Thank you!!! (Austin and Valerie)Valerie Mellinger
Travis and the team working on my VA claim are awesome. I’m happy with their integrity and diligence on working on my claim.Chris “Greybeard” Mullennix
I can't express enough how great it was to work with Perkins Studdard. They are extremely knowledgeable, professional and keep you aware of everything happening with your case. Very friendly from the front office to Mr. Perkins. I would HIGHLY recommend Perkins Studdard!James Strickland
I recommend Travis for an Veteran that has been dealing with constant denial with claims. He also , cover cost for my nexus letter when I ran into financial troubles , that helped me win my case.edwin Cook
I highly recommend Travis Studdard to represent anyone looking to help with VA claims. The VA is very difficult to deal with when attempting to get benefits from service connected injuries, at least that's my experience. Travis and his team knows the VA system and the legal procedures to help you get what you deserve. Travis was kind and passionate with me throughout this process and therefore, I highly recommend this law firm to represent DAV's.Terry Hembree
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Amazing staff, very informed along with excellent communication. Within just a few weeks of work, Mr Studdard was able to make things happen that normally take years! Highly recommendJacob Sylvester

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