VA Disability Rating for Heart Disease

Many veterans have questions about heart disease and whether it is connected to their military service.  Coronary Artery Disease, also known as Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease, is the most common type of heart disease in America, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.  Because this type of heart disease is on the list of presumptive Agent Orange diseases, military veterans who served inside Vietnam are presumed to have a nexus between their military service and their heart disease.

But, the Department of Veterans Affairs deciding your disability is service-connected is only the beginning.  The next step is determining the correct disability rating.  This rating determines how much your monthly disability payments will be.  In reviewing the claims of veterans with heart-related service-connected disabilities, our VA disability attorneys have noticed blatant errors in how the VA Regional Offices decide heart-related claims.  Those errors typically result in too low of a rating.

Female doctor listening to heart beat of elderly man WHAT SYMPTOMS ENTITLE ME TO A VA DISABILITY RATING FOR HEART DISEASE?

To understand the errors, you first need to know the proper criteria the VA is supposed to use in evaluating the correct disability rating.  There a few different ways to qualify for the various ratings, but one way common to each level is the symptom-based method.

To use this method, it is important to know the relevant symptoms.  This helps you see where you likely fall on the scale of disability.  A veteran is entitled to a rating between 10 and 100 percent if he or she experiences dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope when engaging in certain levels of activity.

While fatigue and dizziness are easily understandable terms, many veterans are not familiar with these other, more specialized medical terms.  Dyspnea is difficult or labored breathing, or shortness of breath.  Angina is chest pain.  Syncope is partial or complete loss of consciousness or, more simply put, fainting or passing out.


No.  Disabilities related to heart disease can be rated at 0, 10, 30, 60, and 100 percent.  If you have any of the symptoms discussed above (dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope), your level of disability is tied to what sort of activities bring on your symptoms.

The schedular ratings for heart disease define various activity levels that cause cardiac symptoms.  The more active you are before you have symptoms, the lower the rating; the less activity that can cause symptoms, the higher the rating.  The level of rating is measured by “METs,” or metabolic equivalents.  In plain English, that is a measurement of how hard the heart must work to do certain activities; the higher the MET, the more vigorous the activity.  Here is a chart to help understand how the levels of activity correspond to the ratings levels:



Physical activity MET (metabolic equivalent) Dyspnea, fatigue, angina, dizziness, or syncope while doing these activities?
Light intensity activities < 3  
sleeping 0.9 If yes, then 100% rating
watching television 1.0 If yes, then 100% rating
writing, desk work, typing 1.8 If yes, then 100% rating
walking, 1.7 mph (2.7 km/h), level ground, strolling, very slow 2.3 If yes, then 100% rating
walking, 2.5 mph (4 km/h) 2.9 If yes, then 100% rating
Moderate intensity activities 3 to 6  
bicycling, stationary, 50 watts, very light effort 3.0 If yes, then 100% rating
walking 3.0 mph (4.8 km/h) 3.3 If yes, then 60% rating
calisthenics, home exercise, light or moderate effort, general 3.5 If yes, then 60% rating
walking 3.4 mph (5.5 km/h) 3.6 If yes, then 60% rating
bicycling, <10 mph (16 km/h), leisure, to work or for pleasure 4.0 If yes, then 60% rating
bicycling, stationary, 100 watts, light effort 5.5 If yes, then 30% rating
sexual activity 5.8 If yes, then 30% rating
Vigorous intensity activities > 6  
jogging, general 7.0 If yes, then 30% rating
calisthenics (e.g. pushups, situps, pullups, jumping jacks), heavy, vigorous effort 8.0 If yes, then 10% rating
running jogging, in place 8.0 If yes, then 10% rating
rope jumping 10.0 If yes, then 10% rating


Remember, symptom-based criteria are just one of the ways a veteran may be entitled to a VA disability rating for a heart condition.  There are other methods that can be used to establish a rating.

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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