What Does VA Consider to be a Disability?
Each of us has our own idea of what a “disability” is. The American with Disabilities Act has its definition of disability. Social Security has its own definition as well. But, the definition given by VA is ultimately what matters when you apply for veterans disability benefits.
Before we talk in more detail about that, you should remember that disability is just one part of what you have to prove to qualify for VA disability benefits. You also have to prove:
- That you qualify as a veteran within VA’s definition
- That you suffered an in service event
- That there is a nexus (link) between your in service event and your disability
The “disability” requirement
Without a disability, you are not entitled to VA disability compensation. No disability; no disability compensation. That just makes sense, right?
What exactly qualifies as a disability according to VA? Disabilities can be physical. Disabilities can be psychological. They can also be a combination of the two.
An injury also can qualify as a disability. Many service members have neck, back, knee, and shoulder injuries. These often worsen over time.
A disease can qualify as a disability as well. Some service members develop heart disease, diabetes, and cancer as a result of their service. Psychological conditions like PTSD can also qualify.
How does VA define disability?
VA defines a disability as the average impairment in one’s earning capacity as a result of the disease or injury.
Now, you don’t actually have to prove any loss of earnings to qualify for VA disability benefits. You do not even have to prove an inability to earn as much.
VA looks at an average impairment of earning capacity. VA’s ratings tables establish these average impairments VA rates disabilities from 0 to 100 percent. Each higher 10% level results in a higher disability compensation benefit payment to you.
VA pays disabilities according to the severity, not the type of disability. That means two veterans with heart disease do not necessarily receive the same benefit. They may or they may not. It will depend on if one has more severe heart disease than the other using VA’s ratings tables.
What if I have other questions about VA benefits?
Applying for VA benefits can be confusing. The “disability” requirement is just one part of the process.
You need to establish an in service event and nexus as well. Even if you establish those things and prove entitlement to benefits, you also need to provide evidence to get the proper rating.
If you have any questions about veterans disability benefits, we are happy to provide you with a free consultation. This is usually the best way to get answers to some of your questions.
Some people have questions about how the consultation process work, so I wrote an article to explain it in a little more detail. If you are ready to set up a free consultation, just complete this short form or call us at (770) 214-8885.
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.