Fighting with VA can be frustrating and time consuming. When you succeed in getting VA to recognize that your disability or disabilities are service-connected, you want to make sure that VA pays you the proper amount.
Unfortunately, VA disability pay rates can be confusing. Several different factors affect the monthly amount you receive from VA. Some of these include:
- Your total VA disability rating
- The month and year for which your benefits are being paid
- Whether you have dependents (spouse, parents, dependent children)
Making sure you receive the proper rating from VA for any service-connected conditions is a big factor in whether VA pays you properly. If you are not properly rated for all your conditions, you will not receive the amount from VA that you should.
Another major factor in the amount of benefits you receive is making sure VA considers any dependents you have. Dependents include a spouse, dependent children, and even dependent parents in some cases.
VA has special rules regarding who qualifies as a dependent. VA also has rules that govern how you have to notify VA of who you are claiming as dependents. If you do not follow these rules, your dependents will not be considered in your pay rates and you will not receive as much as you should.
What are some of the basics of VA disability pay rates?
VA disability pay rates refers to monthly disability compensation benefits that VA pays for service-connected conditions. That is a tax-free, monthly benefit paid on account of service connected disabilities. It is not income based.
Most veterans who receive VA disability compensation benefits start receiving them after they apply for disability compensation benefits and VA determines that they have a service-connected disability or disabilities which are qualify for a disability rating. VA grants a rating to the veteran and pays benefits based on that.
The condition which causes your disability have does not dictate your VA disability pay rates. So, a veteran with heart disease at 30% would receive the same amount each month as a veteran with a 30% rating for PTSD (assuming they have the same number of dependents and the same total rating).
Breaking Down VA Disability Pay Rates for Each Family Situation
The pay rates below became effective December 1, 2022. Benefits for months payable before that date should be paid at a different rate since VA usually changes their pay rates each year Also, the pay rates listed below will likely change toward the end of 2023.
30% – 60% With Children
70% – 100% With Children
Do All Veterans with Dependents Receive Additional Compensation?
No. Veterans must have a 30% overall disability rating before VA will pay additional compensation for dependents. That is why the above charts start at 30%. To put it another way, a veteran rated at 10% or 20% with a spouse and three dependent children would receive the same amount of VA compensation as another veteran with the same rating but no spouse or dependents. Their payments would only differ beginning at the 30% level.
Who Qualifies as a Dependent Child for Higher VA Disability Pay Rates?
A child must be a “dependent child” within VA’s definition for you to receive a higher VA disability pay rate on account of that child. The child must be a biological child, adopted child, or stepchild in the veteran’s household. This can be established by birth certificate, adoption papers, or marriage certificate showing you are married to the child’s biological/adoptive parent.
That child must also be unmarried. That means any marriage of the child must be void, annulled, or, in certain circumstances, was terminated before November 1, 1990.
The child must also meet certain age requirements. Dependent children must be under age 18 or between ages 18 and 23 if pursuing a course of education at an approved educational institution (as determined by VA).
The age requirement does not apply if the child is permanently incapable of self-support, also known as a “helpless child.” This is defined as a person who cannot generate sufficient income to reasonably support himself due to a mental or physical disability. But, the child must become helpless before reaching the age of 18. So, if a child is over 18 or out of school and then becomes incapable of self-support, that child will not qualify. Also, a helpless child can lose that status if he or she marries, becomes employed, or is deemed capable of self-support.
How Much Do VA Disability Pay Rates Increase on Account of Dependent Children?
The amount of the increase varies for each disability rating level. Also, the pay rates that VA uses change each year. Since the pay rate changes each year, veterans need to be sure that their monthly benefit payments reflect the updated amount when there is a change in the benefit rates. But, a veteran with a 30% rating with no spouse but one dependent child would receive an extra $40.00 per month. A veteran with a 40% rating and the same family size would receive an extra $54.00 instead of $40.00. This would increase for each 10% increase in the overall disability rating.
Also, many veterans receive a backpay payment of benefits when they initial qualify for service connection for a condition or when they receive an increased rating. Often, this backpay represents payment over years which may have different benefit rates. Since payment amount usually change each year, veterans receiving backpay benefits for a rating should check to make sure the benefits were paid at the correct amounts since these benefits often reflect time frames where the amounts per month will differ.
What if the veteran has more than one child?
A veteran who has more than one child will receive additional benefits. Each additional child under the age of 18 qualifies a veteran for additional benefits. The amount of the benefit per child depends on the veterans disability rating.
As of December 1, 2022, a veteran with a 30% disability rating receives an extra $30 per month for each additional child under the age of 18. This payment increases by $10 per child for each additional 10% the veteran is rated. So, a veteran with a 50% rating will receive $50 per additional child and a veteran with a 90% rating will receive $90 per additional child. There is a slightly higher increase for veterans with a 100% rating because they receive $100.34 per additional child.
Also, veterans receive more per month with children who are over 18 and in a qualifying school program. The following are the benefit amounts for each child over age 18 who is in a qualifying school program:
- 30% disability rating – $97 per child
- 40% disability rating – $129 per child
- 50% disability rating – $162 per child
- 60% disability rating – $194 per child
- 70% disability rating – $226 per child
- 80% disability rating – $259 per child
- 90% disability rating – $291 per child
- 100% disability rating – $324.12 per child
Is There a Cap on VA Disability Pay Rates?
Each additional child entitles veterans to a supplement on their VA disability pay rates. So, there is no limit on how many children can qualify.
Are These Increased VA Disability Pay Rates Paid to the Veteran or the Child?
VA disability compensation benefits are paid to the veteran. These increases are included with the veteran’s compensation since the veteran is the one responsible for financially supporting the dependent child.
What if I receive a rating from VA which entitles me to backpay benefits?
Often, it takes VA some time to properly determine that your condition is service-connected and to give you the proper disability rating. Because of this, many veterans are entitled to backpay benefits for months or years when they start receiving benefits from VA or receive increased benefits for an increased rating.
Because VA changes almost always changes its benefit amounts each year, the monthly amount of a benefit for a certain rating varies depending on when it is being paid for. Let’s take an example to better explain that.
Say a veteran with a spouse and a dependent child receives a 30% rating for PTSD in February 2023. The amount payable per month to the veteran for that 30% rating with a spouse and a dependent child in February 2023 is $612.05.
But, suppose that VA determines that the veteran is actually entitled to benefits retroactive to January 2022, based on when the veteran applied. The rates in the pay rate tables above became effective in December 2022. Benefits for months prior to December 2022 are paid at a different rate.
Determining the proper pay rate for these prior monthly benefits require referencing the proper pay rate tables with VA. So, veterans need to make sure that they:
- Are properly rated for all of their service connected conditions,
- Have the correct effective dates each service connected condition,
- Have filed the correct paperwork for their eligible dependents and that VA is accounting for all dependents, and
- VA pays backpay benefits at the correct amount
We Can Help Make Sure Your VA Disability Pay Rates Are as High as Possible
If you need assistance making sure you receive the proper amount from VA for your service-connected conditions, our VA-accredited attorneys can review your situation to determine whether we can help. Whether you know you already need an attorney or simply want a free consultation, we are here to discuss your claim when you are ready.