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.

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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