Funny Math – VA Disability Ratings. When 30 + 20 Doesn’t Always Equal 50 (Podcast 004)

Combined VA disability ratings don't use "normal" math. Instead of adding your disability ratings together with straight math (for example, 10+10 = 20), the VA uses a special formula to calculate combined VA disability ratings. We'll show you how this formula works and how to calculate combined VA disability ratings.
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calculate combined VA disability
Table of Contents
  1. What Do VA Disability Ratings Represent?
  2. How the VA Rates Multiple Disabilities
    1. Calculate Combined Disability Ratings using VA Math
  3. VA Combined Ratings Table
  4. How Bilateral Disabilities Affect Your Rating
  5. Example Using the Bilateral Factor
    1. Bilateral Factor Applied:
  6. What Factors Does the VA Take Into Account for Disability?
  7. How to Increase Your VA Disability Rating
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If I asked you the answer to 30 + 20, you would quickly tell me 50. And you would be right in just about every instance. But for veterans with service-connected disability ratings, the math doesn’t always work out quite so easily. In fact, 30 + 20 might only equal 44, which rounds down to 40. Or it might equal 48.4, which rounds up to 50. Confused yet? Welcome to the world of VA Math!

VA Math - combined disability ratings
Understanding VA math is essential for understanding your benefits.

The VA Service-Connected Disability rating system is complex, not least because of the way the VA calculates final service-connected disability ratings.

VA disability ratings determine compensation payments and access to other service-connected disability benefits. Learning to calculate your rating is important to make sure you’re receiving the right benefits. The difference can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars a year in compensation payments and other benefits.

Let’s dive in.

Veterans: Are you under 90% rated?

Winning approval for military service-connected injuries and illnesses can be a challenging process. Be confident that you’re getting the compensation that you medically, legally, and ethically qualify for.

Answer a few quick questions to get the most accurate veteran disability rating that your conditions warrant here.

What Do VA Disability Ratings Represent?

The first thing to understand is what your disability rating represents.

In short, the VA takes each individual injury or illness into consideration and gives it a numerical disability rating divisible by 10 (ex: 10%, 40%, etc.).

A good way to look at this is to consider how disabilities affect your ability to perform work and daily activities. To do this, the VA looks at how your disability affects your overall efficiency. Let’s say you are a normal 40-year-old retiree with no major service-connected injuries or illnesses. Your efficiency would be rated at 100%.

But, if you just retired from the military after 20 years of service and tweaked your knee while you were deployed, you may be eligible for benefits.

Let’s say you had an arthroscopic surgery for the injury, but still have some pain and stiffness in that knee. The VA could grant you a 10% service-connected disability rating. The VA determines this rating by looking at your efficiency, which it calls 90%.

In the previous example, it seems like you can just subtract the 10% from 100% and come up with 90%. But the VA does the math differently:

We’re going to come back to why we did the math this way.

More than one disability rating? Each injury or illness is rated by itself, without consideration of other illnesses or injuries, unless they contribute to further injuries. We will also need to take into consideration whether or not the injuries are bilateral, which means they affect limbs on both sides of the body (for example, disabilities on both arms or both legs). All of your disability ratings are listed in descending order, then the VA math begins.

How the VA Rates Multiple Disabilities

The aforementioned example with the veteran who had a knee injury covers the most basic situation – a single disability rating. Things get more interesting when you have more disability ratings. Let’s run through an example, building on the previous profile.

Let’s add a few conditions for this 40-year-old retiree.

Let’s say our retiree has the following service-connected disability ratings:

  • 10% rating for his right knee (above example)
  • 30% rating for a back injury
  • 20% rating for right shoulder injury
  • 10% for hearing loss.

Do Disabled Veterans Qualify for VA Home Loans?

Disabled veterans who have VA loan entitlement are eligible for a VA home loan. However, all active-duty military and veteran borrowers have multiple requirements to hit in order to fully qualify for a VA home loan, including meeting the service standards and a lender’s specific credit score minimum to residual income and acceptable debt-to-income ratio.

Check if you meet the official VA loan requirements here.

Calculate Combined Disability Ratings using VA Math

The VA uses a descending efficiency scale for its calculations. The VA will give each injury or illness a numerical rating.

When it comes time to determine the overall rating, the VA will start with the highest rating, then work its way down. You will always begin with an efficiency rating of 100. Each new disability gives you a new baseline.

We start by racking and stacking the disabilities. In the example above, we have ratings of 30%, 20%, 10% and 10%. We start with the 30%, then factor in the 20%, the 10% then the final 10%.

Again, we aren’t subtracting here; we’re doing VA math.

You start with your efficiency rate of 100, multiply it by your disability rating, then subtract the result from your original rating.

In this case, you would multiply 30% times 100 and get 30. You subtract that from 100 and come up with 70.

Your new efficiency rating is 70, and your disability rating is 30.

This is the starting point for the next calculation. You repeat the process for the next rating. You take 20%, multiply it by 70, and come up with 14. You subtract 14 from 70, and you get 56.

Your new efficiency rating is 56, and your disability rating is 44. You repeat the process for each additional disability rating.

Va Math How To
The VA rounds final ratings to the nearest 10 (ex: 56% disability would be 60%, 54% would be 50%). Approximately symbols (?) in the example above indicate rounding to the nearest whole number.

Caption: The VA rounds final ratings to the nearest 10 (ex: 56% disability would be 60%, 54% would be 50%). Approximately symbols (?) in the example above indicate rounding to the nearest whole number.

VA Combined Ratings Table

The math can be a bit confusing if you try to do it manually; that’s where this combined ratings table may be helpful.

Let’s try the same example with the table below.

We start with the 30% disability. Look at the combined ratings table and scroll down the left column until you find the number 30.

Then go to the right column until you find the 20. The 30 and 20 combine for 44. If those are your only two ratings, you would have a 44% VA service-connected disability rating, which would round down to 40%. But, we’re not done. We still have to add two 10% ratings.

Start on the left column again. This time, you will look for the 44 in the left column. Then find the intersection point with the 44 and 10. Your new rating is 50%.

Repeat this one more time, starting with 50, and meeting up with 10. Your new combined rating is 55%, which rounds up to 60%.

Table Instructions: List all disabilities in descending order. Start with the highest disability rating, find it in the left column, and find the intersecting point with the next highest disability rating. This is your combined rating for these two disabilities. If these are your only two disabilities, you can round to the nearest number divisible by 10 (all numbers 4.9 and lower are rounded down; 5 and higher are rounded up).

Repeat this process until you have run the numbers for all disability ratings.

(Article continues below table):


Source: 38 CFR 4.25 – Combined ratings table. Downloadable PDF: You can download this table here .

Online VA Disability Ratings Calculators: It’s great to know how to use the combined ratings table so you can verify your disability rating for yourself. But it’s also nice to be able to use a calculator that takes all these factors into consideration. There are several websites that have useful calculators.

How Bilateral Disabilities Affect Your Rating

There is one more issue we need to consider that can greatly impact your rating: the bilateral factor.

What is the Bilateral Factor? The bilateral factor applies to veterans living with disabilities that affect both limbs (for example, both arms, both legs or of paired skeletal muscles). The disabilities don’t have to mirror each other. The VA considers separate injuries affecting the left foot and the right knee, for example, to be bilateral.

The VA combines the individual rates for bilateral injuries and adds 10% of the combined amount to the total percentage, according to the VA. It uses the new total as one rating when calculating the rest of your combined total.

Example Using the Bilateral Factor

Let’s stick with the example profile from above, but let’s add another knee disability, one on each leg. So, in total, we’re working with:

  • 10% rating for right knee
  • 10% for left knee
  • 30% rating for a back injury
  • 20% rating for right shoulder injury
  • 10% for hearing loss.

The two knee injures would qualify for the bilateral factor.

The disability rating for each knee was 10%, but when combined, they equal 21%, according to the VA’s Combined Rating Table. Here is how it works:

Bilateral Factor Applied:

A 10% disability combined with another 10% disability = 19%,

Then you add 10% of 19, or 1.9%.

19% + 1.9% = 20.9%, which rounds up to 21%.

The combined rating for both knees is now 21%, and the VA will use 21% as the rating for those disabilities. It is possible to have more than two disabilities combined in the bilateral factor.

Now, using the combined rating table above, we’d start with the 21% rating and the 30% rating. This takes us to 45. Follow the left column down to 45 and find where it intersects with 20. You get 56.

Repeat the process for 56 and 10, and you get 60. The overall service-connected disability rating for this veteran is exactly 60%.

The previous example was 55%, rounded up to 60%, and this example was exactly 60% without rounding. As your disability percentage increases, it takes more disabilities with higher ratings to move the needle.

What Factors Does the VA Take Into Account for Disability?

To be eligible for VA disability benefits or compensation, you must:

  • Have served on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training and have a current illness or injury that affects your mind or body.

Additionally, at least one of the following situations must be true:

  • You got sick or injured while serving in the military and can link this condition to your illness or injury (called an inservice disability claim)
  • You had an illness or injury before you joined the military—and serving made it worse (called a preservice disability claim)
  • You have a disability related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you separated from the military (called a post-service disability claim)
  • You have one of the VA’s “presumed disabilities:”
    • Chronic (long-lasting) illness that appeared within one year of your discharge
    • Illness caused by contact with contaminants (toxic chemicals) or other hazardous materials
    • Illness caused by time spent as a prisoner of war (POW)

When deciding on a disability claim, the VA considers the above eligibility requirements, as well as how your condition affects your daily life, activities and employability.

How to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

If you feel your VA rating does not accurately reflect the impact your service-connected disability has on your life, you can try to get the VA to increase your disability rating.

One way to do this is to file an appeal.

If you’re still within a year of the VA’s decision on your initial claim, you can file a Notice of Disagreement to kick off the formal appeal process. You’ll use the Notice of Disagreement form to declare what you disagree with and indicate how you’d like your appeal to proceed.

If you are outside of the one-year period for a notice of disagreement, you can file a new claim for an increased rating. Be sure to include any new evidence, medical opinions or documentation showing that your condition has worsened or is worse than the VA previously rated it

If your condition has worsened to the point that you can not work, you can file for TDIU, or “total disability based on individual unemployability. When in doubt, you can always reach out to a Veterans Service Officer at a Veterans Service Organization. VSOs will help you with your claim free of charge.

Veterans: Are you under 90% rated?

Winning approval for military service-connected injuries and illnesses can be a challenging process. Be confident that you’re getting the compensation that you medically, legally, and ethically qualify for.

Answer a few quick questions to get the most accurate veteran disability rating that your conditions warrant here.

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  1. Kevin Leopard says

    Nice site! Well Done. I am UI and I just 3+ mos ago sent in app for Aid and Attendance. I am in Thailand. The V,A. sent me to see a VES exam here and I was able to go since we have a wheel chair and the Dr gave me 100% along with my Neurologist giving me 100% via the original application. So there were 2 exams.

    Then since I have a lot of time being in bed quite a bit I learned about special monthly compensation and saw that adding my PTSD (The Psychologist I saw here gave me 100% PTSD. 1 exam) I have PTSD pretty bad yet I do not get out much anymore. However it does exist.

    I was in the Navy, a diver Training) Medical Separation. I have a 70% service connected disability rating and they gave me UI. Also in 1979 we were at war in Afghanistan. So the serving 1 day during a wartime period is also satisfied. So I was wondering about what I will receive, AnA or the SMCL..

    If I were to receive an additional 60%+ rating, I may get to smc L. (what do you think pls?) I contacted my V.A. and told them that getting the smc L would be enough. I think that AnA and the SMC at same time or together would be to much and unfair. I have 3 caregivers. Can I also get one to be a “Primary Caregiver” and get money for Her as well?

    I have not heard back from the V.A. yet. I think the poor Souls are getting Hammered due to the influx of the PACT act applications.. anyway I thought I would ask your opinion on this situation as you appear to have knowledge.

    Pls let me know and Thx!

  2. LKO says

    Hi Ryan, I was rated 100% disabled due to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. I was 68 years old when I got prostate cancer and had to have my prostate removed. After 2 years the military requested that I get a re-evaluation of my condition and was knocked down to 30% disabled. Is it true that after 55 you can request now to be re-evaluated. I read this in one of the articles on reasons why you can contest re-evaluation. Also, I served as a medic and worked in the hospital and now am having sciatica and back pain. I have had surgery for that problem. Is it possible to claim that now even though I never claimed it while in the service. Thank you for your kind advice.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello LKO,

      Thank you for your question.

      There are specific rules for certain types of disability ratings. My understanding is that some conditions are considered permanent and some are considered temporary. As an example, losing a limb or having corrective surgery would be permanent conditions, since they cannot be undone. On the other hand, a condition such as cancer can be considered temporary if the individual becomes cancer-free. I recommend speaking with the VA or a veterans benefits counselor about your condition and your rating. They should be able to provide more specific information.

      The same recommendation goes for your sciatica and back pain. Yes, it is possible to submit a disability claim years after the fact, but it may be difficult to prove. This is where speaking with a veterans benefits counselor can help you with the process.

      I wish you the best of health and thank you for your service!

  3. JRHD1 says

    This VA math is really something! I’ve got my head around it for the most part, but what if you have two bilateral disabilities?
    So if you’ve got 10% for both ankles, and also ten percent for both knees, for instance. Do you make one bilateral calculation or two? And if two, how?
    Thanks for the article and your response!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Great question. 

      My understanding is that the bilateral condition will only count once. However, I’m not 100% certain if you can include more than 2 ratings (one on each side)

      Here is the law:

      When a partial disability results from disease or injury of both arms, or of both legs, or of paired skeletal muscles, the ratings for the disabilities of the right and left sides will be combined as usual, and 10 percent of this value will be added (i.e., not combined) before proceeding with further combinations, or converting to degree of disability. (source)

      It doesn’t specify that you can only use one rating for the bilateral calculation. But I don’t have a definitive answer, either. I would take this question up with the VA or a qualified Veterans Service Organization rep.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

      • JRHD1 says

        Right. It wouldn’t be possible to follow the procedure for bilateral conditions separately, e.g. calculate a bilateral condition for two knee ratings and another for two shoulder ratings. You could end up with a 31, say, and another 31. How would you then total your rating?

        So the only thing that makes sense as far as I can tell, is, say you’ve got 10% each knee and 10% each shoulder, you would combine all four together– 10 + 10 = 19 + 10 = 27 + 10 = 34 + 3.4 (10%) = 37.4 as your bilateral rating.

        To only acknowledge one set of conditions as bilateral and disregard all others would not seem to comport with the law, and to calculate them independently would create an impossible situation. Thanks for helping me sort it.

    • Robert says

      Join the discussion…In this case, you put them all together and it yields a 37%, rounded to 40 if they are your only disabilities. If two were for arms and two were for legs, you would do to 10s together twice, both yielding 19% and then together they would still yield 37%, again rounded to 40% if these are your only issues.

  4. Robert Ballard says


    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robert,

      I don’t have enough information to provide an answer. Your total disability rating will depend on your other ratings that add up to the 70%. All of your ratings are combined to give a total rating. I recommend contacting the VA or a Veterans Service Organization that specializes in helping with VA disability claims. They should be able to help you review your claim and provide a total disability rating. The VA should also send you an updated award letter in the near future that will include a full list of all your rated conditions, their corresponding disability rating, your total disability rating, and the effective dates of each of these.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

    • Robert says

      Join the discussion…My calculation says you will be rated at 90%. The only calculation that can yield a higher number is if the 70 and 50 were bilateral (no other bilateral combination meets or exceeds 95), but that doesn’t appear to be the case. 70 +50 =85 +30 = 90 + 20 = 92 rounded to 90%

  5. Cecilio A Perez says

    Question for you Ryan:

    I was granted a Total and permanent Individual Unemployability. I’m actually rated at a 90% schedular disability. If the VA considers my sleep apnea as service connected, that will make my schedular disability at 100%. My question is, if I get granted the 100% schedular disability, will I forfeit my Individual Unemployability benefit?

  6. John wilmor says

    I was granted 4 disabilities. In your opinion, what do you think my rating would be? I presently have a 10% rating Do they also go back to when the original claim was filed, and pay back money to that date?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello John,

      Each situation is unique, so it is impossible to answer your question without having additional information. The VA sends an award letter when they complete their review of the disability claim. The award letter addresses each item on the claim, and includes the VA’s assessment of the condition and the disability rating, if any. 

      Regarding back pay – yes, the VA will generally award back pay to the date the claim was originally filed. However, the VA may use a different date if the veteran added things to the claim, or the claim was incomplete. You can contact the VA for further information specific to your claim. They should be able to give you a more specific answer.

      The best thing to do is to contact the VA for a review of your case. You can also contact your county Office of Veterans Affairs or contact a benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization for assistance. Many VSOs offer free benefits claims assistance.

      I wish you the best.

  7. jerry turner says

    When about to apply for a service related disability claim and there is sufficient evidence to support the back injury and the other physical impairments, should the vet go seek private sector psychological evaluation to get diagnosis on anxiety and depression or simply make the claim since the VA will assign an evaluating doctor?

    The vet was discharged five years ago and does not currently have and government benefits.

  8. Albert says

    ^^^^^^^^^correction….it was submitted during my C&P as a secondary claim to a wrist injury which I never had. How do I go about re filing that Finger injury claim?

    • Adam says

      I was awarded 70% VA Disability secondary to tinnitus. I also have diabetes type 2 I’ve had several laser procedures due to diabetes can I file claim for diabetes to receive higher rating?

  9. Albert says

    I had a broken finger injury prior to joining the military. I tried claiming a aggravation claim but was submitted during my C&P and a secondary claim to my wrist. How do I resubmit for a aggravation claim? Do I appeal that certain claim?

  10. Michael Ryan says

    I am attempting improved pension using vietnam era status. My unemployability pension was changed to social security disability with a va pension stipepend to make up the difference. After a month in intensive care with pulmonary embolism a home oxygen necessity was prescribed. A year of in home care and continued oxygen prescription for another year followed. home oxygen required 16-24 hrs per day. I was issued a VA power chair.
    Does the home oxygen give me homebound status?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Michael, Thank you for contacting me and I’m sorry to hear about your service-related illness.

      I don’t have a good answer for your question. I don’t have medical training and I can’t speak toward VA policies on specific medical conditions.

      The best thing to do is to contact a veterans benefits counselor at the VA, your county VA office, or with a Veterans Service Organization. They have counselors who offer free, individualized claims assistance. They can review your claim, your service periods, medical conditions, and other factors and help you apply for benefits or an upgrade to your current rating.

      I wish you the best of health, and thank you for your service.

  11. Joshua E Clark says

    I have a question. Let’s say I have 70% back pay from a year ago but then I have a secondary claim of one of my conditions that I claimed a year ago…. do I get back paid from a year ago for the secondary condition as well?

  12. LOUIS PIAZZA says

    I am a BLUE WATER VETERAN of Viet Nam, 1965 -1967. My ships are listed as qualified for Agent Orange Exposure, if that affects anything.
    Thank you,

  13. LOUIS PIAZZA says

    Hello Ryan,
    My Compensatory Benefit is currently at 50%
    I receive 30% for VERTIGO, 20% for BILATERAL HEARING LOSS and 10% for TINNITUS, both ears.
    in September of 2008 and again in November of 2008, I had 2 independent heart interventions resulting in 3 stents in the “widow-maker” heart artery.
    Both cases, (which were 2 months apart) were labeled as “heart failure” by the surgeons.

    In October of 2018, 10 years later, I had triple bypass surgery and, my Aortic Valve was replaced during that same surgery.

    So, I went to see a VSO Agent and, she filed a claim for “heart failure” and PTSD.
    This was on (about) 24 April 2019.

    I realize that you don’t likely consult with your crystal ball very often but, in your experience, what’s likely to occur with my Award moving up from the 30,20,10% (50%), that I have now?

    Thank you, for your time and especially, for your Service to others.
    Be well,

  14. Eugene Loyd says

    Hello, I am rated at 90% my following disabilities are as follows:

    50%-Sleep Apnea
    30%- DisFiguring Scar
    30%- Right hand Cubital tunnel
    20%- Painful Scars
    20%-Bilateral Peripheral Degeneration
    20%-Lower Back sprain
    10%-High Blood pressure
    10%-Hypertensive Heart Disease secondary
    10%-Residuals of left tibial stress fracture(claimed as bilateral knee condition)
    10%-Bilateral ankle sprains (claimed as bilateral ankle condition)
    10%-Right ankle sprain
    10%-Left ankle sprain
    10%-Residual of right tibial stress fracture DC 5257 (claimed as bilateral knee condition)
    0%-Right Knee Limitation of extension associated with residuals of right tibial stress fracture
    0%-Left Knee Limitation of extension associated with residuals of right tibial stress fracture.

    I got a combined rating of 95 or 100% Va is stating I am at 90%. It also looks like I have a few bilateral disability ratings as well that should have been used for the combined Compensation Calculator.

    Can you please advise if I’m on the right track?

  15. Kevin Brockway says

    Thank you very much! I have just received my EMG results for my bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. I am currently rated at 10% for each wrist. My EMG results state that I am a grade 3. The report states that I have significant CTS and graded both wrists a grade 3. I do believe that puts me in the 30% for the right wrist and 20% for the left. It states in my award letter that those two percentages were the max and no more. I’m curious if the bilateral factor would still apply and factored in the way the 10% + 10% bilateral CTS originally was or will the new percentages just be slid in?

    ….so I am at 70% with a 10% rating for both wrists. If I am awarded the increased disability of 30% and 20% and the bilateral factor is added that will bring me up to 80%?

    Thank you very much for being available and sharing your expertise.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kevin, The VA should change your 10% rating in each wrist to the new rating, then apply the bilateral factor to these ratings. The calculations will then be run from highest to lowest ratings.

      Regarding your other question, yes, I believe your new combined disability rating should be 80%.

      I wish you the best!

  16. Kevin Brockway says

    My name kevin and would like to know what total percent disability you calculate.
    30% chronic adjustment disorder
    20% degenerative disc
    10% flat foot left
    10% flat foot right
    10% tinnitus
    10% vertigo
    10% carpel tunnel left
    10% carpel tunnel right
    *My overall rating is 70%.
    I do not see where the bi-lateral factor was added to my left and right wrist carpel tunnel or bi-lateral flat feet.
    What am I missing?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kevin, I ran the numbers you provided. The result was 70%, even with the bilateral factor applied to both your arms and legs.

      The VA Award Letter does not specify the bilateral factor has been applied and it does not show the math – just the individual ratings and the combined rating.

      I hope this is helpful. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

    • Robert says

      Join the discussion…I have built an excel calculator that includes bilateral. I see 4 10s (2 for feet and 2 for hands) that fit. Putting all that in, I show you at 72% which rounds down to 70%. Any additional 10% will get you to 75% and round you to 80% disability.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robert, Thank you for your question. You will need to run the calculations based on the table in the article to know your new rating. The VA will rack and stack all of your ratings and run the calculation from the beginning. You can also contact the VA for the official number, once the calculate it, or you can work with a veterans service organization to help you run the numbers. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  17. Dana says

    Seeking help with a question. I have had a total disability rating of 70% for the past couple of years. Recently I received a 50% rating on a new claim. Will the VA math begin with the 70% total rating and then factor in the new 50% or do they start fresh and add all the ratings over again to come up with my new total rating? Thanks in advance

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Dana,

      The VA will start the process from the beginning, adding all your total ratings together. They won’t count all your previous ratings as a single 70% rating, then add another 50% rating to it. They will add them all together as described in the article.

      I hope that answers your question.

  18. Freida says

    I have service connected disabilities of left ankle 10%, right ankle 10%, left knee 10% and right knee 10%. ( amongst other issues) Will the bilateral factor be used for knees and ankles even though they are all on the lower extremities.

  19. anthony willis says

    VA rating of 10% and 30% with an appeal that has been won and granted of 10% what will be the total disability rated for compensation?

  20. Dave says

    Hello, I have 2 separate issues I’m concerned with:

    1. What if a service connected knee contributes to falling down some stairs and injuring a shoulder? Would the shoulder be covered as being caused by the other already service connected knee condition?

    2. Also, I was a USMC pilot and feel like I have tinnitus. It wasn’t as aggravating when I first left service but has become quite annoying. Can I apply to have that added to my disability rating?

    Thank you

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Dave,

      Question 1) I don’t know. You would need to speak with a veterans benefits counselor for more information. You can either contact the VA or a benefits counselor at your county VA office, or an organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, etc. Here are some recommendations –

      Question 2) Yes, you can apply to have tinnitus added to your claim. Again, you may wish to have a veterans benefits counselor assist you – they have experience and may be able to help you.

      I hope this helps. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  21. Edomrek says

    Hello. I just had a quick question. I have a final award decision of 90%. I went through a MED Board this last year and ended up with that. At the time of my MED Board i was diagnosed with Sleep apnea but I could not claim it along with other claims because my MED Board had already started. It was recommended to me that I claim it once I was discharged.

    So i just did that last week. My question is this, when the VA goes to calculate my 90% final award and the new Sleep Apnea (50%) will they use the 90% as the starting point and do the VA math and add the 50% which would result in 100%?

    Or will they go back and calculate it all over again with all my other disabilities individually which would result in me staying at 90%?

    This is a difference of about $1200 a month for me so I just would like to know what to expect before it happens. Thank you so much.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Edomrek, Thank you for your question. From what I understand, the VA will go back and calculate your combined rating all over again. They will put each of the ratings in order from high to low, factor in any bilateral conditions (if any), and calculate from the top.

      You should be able to meet with a VA representative or a veterans benefits counselor at a veterans service organization to help you with the calculation if you believe there to be any issues with the final numbers.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  22. Scott says

    I have create a spreadsheet to try and do my bi-lat calculations. I think that I am at 93%, but I am not sure if I have it right. Here is what I have minus all the 0’s for all my fingers.
    left lower extremity radiculopathy 20.00%
    right hip degenerative joint disease 10.00%
    left hip degenerative joint disease 10.00%
    right knee degenerative arthritis 10.00%
    left knee degenerative arthritis 10.00%
    right shoulder degenerative arthritis 10.00%
    left shoulder degenerative arthritis 10.00%
    right cubital tunnel syndrome 10.00%
    left cubital tunnel syndrome 10.00%
    right hip degenerative joint disease limitation of flexion 0.00%
    left hip degenerative joint disease limitation of flexion 0.00%
    Singular Conditions
    obstructive sleep apnea 50.00%
    thoracolumbar spine degenerative arthritis 20.00%
    cervical spine degenerative arthritis 20.00%
    tinnitus 10.00%
    Cumulative Disability 91.94%

    Can you tell me if I have it right?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Scott, I think you are in the right ballpark, but this is complicated enough that I would consult with a veterans benefits counselor or the VA to double-check the math. They should be able to walk you through the calculation to verify your numbers. They won’t hide it from you — you have the right to know. You may have to ask around a couple times to find someone who can verify the numbers, as I believe the calculations are automated by computer. Best wishes!

  23. George says

    I have had a rating of 100% Disability with Employability for over 10 years. I went back to school through the VA to learn a new skill, but it hasn’t worked out for me. I am unable to work for 8 hrs a day or even less then that. I have had my student loans on deferment due to my low income. I haven’t had to pay any of it back as yet. I received a letter that I may be able to have the loans forgiven due to my 100% Rating, but one of the questions on the form says I need to have a Rating with Unemployability. I am 68 years old and there is no way I can go back to work. How do I work my way through this situation? Thank You in advance for your help.

  24. Tom Ziebert says

    TY. My claim still in the works. But mine also has PTSD, be interesting how it works out. At least the VA got me in.

  25. Ralph walker says

    Hi Ryan, I enjoy the comments you are receiving from the veterans. First I have learn how to use the VA chart you have post I really enjoy your Q&A columns. I’m a Vietnam veteran. I served with the Army 101st Airborne. My question is – I came down with prostate cancer. The VA put me a 100 % until I have my my cancer resolved. I had my radiation treatment so now I’m cancer free psa 0.51. My question – VA gave me special monthly compensation of 500.00 extra a month. I will be reevaluated in May 2018 for side effects from the cancer. My rate will come down, I’m sure. I was at 70% before I had the caner. I feel the smc was my right hand I was hit with shrapnel 50 % disability. I would like you thoughts will that stay or will 500 go away after I’m reevaluated?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Ralph,

      Thank you for your question. I’m glad to hear that your cancer is improving. I hope you will be completely cured and that it won’t return. Regarding your disability ratings – I don’t know about the $500/mo special compensation. I can’t comment on that. The cancer diagnosis is usually considered a temporary rating because cancer is a health condition that can improve over time. So it is possible that rating will go away if your cancer is deemed to be 100% cured. If your cancer rating is removed, you will more than likely revert to your previous disability rating. Your previous ratings should not change if they were not connected to the cancer rating. So the rating for the shrapnel wound in your hand, for instance, will not likely change.

      My recommendation is to always work closely with a benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization, such as the DAV, AMVETS, VFW, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans Association, or a similar veterans organization. Many of these organizations have trained counselors that can help you through the benefits claims process and answer specific questions about the claims process, why your rating may change, and similar questions.

      I wish you the best of health, and thank you for your service!

  26. HChestnut says

    Ok can someone please shed some light on this for me. I’m currently receiving 100% p&t for a Lung Condition. And I’m also rated at:
    100% for digestive issue
    70% for PTSD
    60% for Urinary Issue
    30% Hypertension
    50% Sleep Apenea

    I’m rated at SMC S , but they was before the Digestive and Urinary conditions . I was just bumped to 70% for PTSD . We’re pursuing SMC R1. Do I fit the criteria for this rating???

  27. Phil says

    Hi Ryan,

    My question concerns Tinnitus. I see a lot of posts stating that they have 10% rating for Tinnitus. Is this a new standard for Tinnitus? I’ve been rated with Tinnitus for years with only a 0% rating. if this is new. Will I be able to up my rating to 10% and receive back pay? Thanks.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Phil, Thank you for contacting me. I do know people who have received a 10% rating for tinnitus. But I am not certain if all cases of tinnitus are rated at 10%. I recommend contacting a Veterans Service Organization to ask about your claim. They have trained benefits counselors that can assist you with the details. As for back pay – each situation is handled on a case by case basis. So I cannot comment on that. However, this is a good question for a veterans service officer. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

    • hutsky says

      The rating schedule for tinnitus was changed sometime around 2000. Prior to that time there were permitted ratings of 0% and 10%. After the change only one rating of 10% is provided by 38 CFR §4.87 Schedule of ratings–ear for DC 6260, tinnitus, recurrent. I was rated 0% for tinnitus under the old criteria but it was increased to 10% when I applied to VA. I do not recall if my request if my request was defined as a claim of not but the action occurred automatically. I do not know the answer regarding back pay. Have a VSO inquire or call the 1-(800)827-1000 number for an answer.

  28. Andrew says


    I am quite disappointed in how my ratings came back. I was initially given

    20% for shoulder
    10% for hearing / Tinitus
    10% for right knee
    0% for left knee
    For a final degree of 40%

    Went in for a “reconsideration” and was given 10% for my left knee. But my final degree did not change. So as such, I really do not get any compensation for my disabilities. Since I am less than 50% I loose part of my retirement. yes, I know that it reduces the amount of taxable income but that does not amount to much at all.

    • Todd Wyndham says

      That’s really sad that person has to have there retirement reduced for getting a VA disability ratings I remember when this happened that Obama that had that enacted he claimed hey some of these folks are getting paid to many benefits retirement from military and whatever % they are getting for VA dis. ratings to me one thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other because you earned your retirement by time and by the gov. Regulations so I’d you sustained injuries or whatever during your time in serivice yoinshould compensated fully just as anyone else does it makes no sense all I can say is I’m sorry thank you for your service.

  29. Karl says

    Ryan, I had a knee injury while on active duty orders in Air Force ROTC summer training when I was in college in 1984. The surgery was done at Ft Bragg Army hospital (ACL) due to its close proximity to my home. The surgery was done poorly and I have suffered from it ever since. I went on active duty after college and served in the Air Force from 1987 to 1992, and with the Air Force Reserves from 1992 to 1997. I am going to eventually have to have a knee replacement.
    Would this qualify as a Veteran’s disability? If so, how should I look into it? I really have no idea how to start. Thank you.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Karl, Thank you for contacting me. Yes, it is possible this could qualify as a VA disability, but it can become more difficult to prove as time goes by. I recommend working with a Veterans Service Organization to file a claim. Many organizations have trained benefits counselors that offer free benefits claims assistance. They can walk you through the process.

      In the mean time, I recommend getting all the supporting documentation you can get your hands on, including your military records, medical records, etc. These will be important for substantiating your case. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  30. Stephanie says


    How do I know if my claim is bilateral? For instance, as a result of my major depressive disorder I have scars. I receive 70% for my depression and 20% for my scars, also receive 10% for my feet. So that combined at 80%. So what if i claim that my scars and depression are bilateral? Can I do that, and if so how do I do that?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Stephanie, Thank you for contacting me. The way I understand it is the bilateral classification only applies to disability ratings occurring on two opposing limbs. For example, a combination of two injuries, one on each arm, may qualify. An example could include a left shoulder and right shoulder injury or a left shoulder and right wrist injury. Both of sets of examples are injuries to the same arm, even though it is a different part of the arm. Another example could be a right knee and left knee injury, or right knee and left ankle. Both of those occur on the each respective leg.

      However, just having a disability rating on each side of your body may not qualify if they are not on the opposite limb. For example, a right leg and left arm injury would not qualify.

      I am not aware of specific allowances for bilateral classifications for injuries or ratings that are not located on opposing limbs. I do not think depression and scars would qualify under the above examples.

      The VA should be able to clarify your disability ratings further. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service.

  31. Jay Cunningham says

    FYI, the order of severity is irrelevant. The math is still the same. Great information, thanks for sharing.

  32. Francisco Dezra says

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, please help me with this. I’m currently rated with bilateral low extremity radiculopathy at 10% each leg. If I’m awarded 20% rating for both knees on my current disability claim, what would my total rating be for all my bilateral conditions factoring in the bilateral factor considering all 4 parts are located at low extremity?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Francisco, Thank you for contacting me. There isn’t enough information in your question to give you an answer. Also, I can’t predict anyone’s disability rating because there are too many unknown factors to consider. I recommend using a disability calculator that you can find online or using the table to run different scenarios based on what some of the disability ratings may be. You can also contact a veterans service organization to get personalized assistance. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  33. Rich says

    Hi Ryan,

    Great article. I just submitted a letter to the VA asking them to refigure my disability rating. Under disabilities in eBenefits the %s listed eqaul 95 using the VA math chart, but they have me at 90%. I called the VA yesterday to confirm they received my fax and the individual on the phone said let me figure it up real quick as we have a calculator. She did and said she still came up with 90%. Is the VA using a calculator nowadays or still using the old math chart? Thanks in advance for your assistance.


    • Ryan Guina says

      Thank you, Rich. The VA plugs the numbers into a computer program that calculates the percentages. I recommend contacting a veterans service organization such as the DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc. if you have specific questions. They have trained counselors that can help you with your claim.

  34. Michael bennett says

    Ok I have 90%
    70% PTSD
    40% Lumbar Strain
    30% Cervical Strain
    10% Left Lower
    10% Right Lower extremities
    Do secondaries Lower my ratings?

  35. Cecilio A Perez says

    Confirm for me that I’m doing this correctly;
    70% depression
    60% shoulders (30% Right shoulder + 30% Left shoulder=51%. add bilateral factor of 5.1 and the result is 56.1 which rounds up to 60%)
    40% back
    20% knees
    10% tinnitus
    All added is a 95% rating (which rounds up to 100%)

    • Robert says

      Join the discussion…No, you don’t round up the bilateral number you use 56. But I still show you at 95 rounded to 100%.

  36. Dorothy Laska says

    R shoulder is 60%, L shoulder is 20%

    60% + 8% = 68%. Bilateral = 6.8%
    68% + 6.8% = 74.8% which is rounded to 75%
    Total combined rating is 80%

    Am I figuring this correctly?

  37. Sam Longwell says

    I have several injuries. 1. Hearing Loss 2. Right and left knee injuries. One has been replaced with a metal knee. The other needs to be replaced as well. 3. Achilles Tendon was torn off and had to be re-attached. Still has pain. What would be my percentage? And, the percentage is a percentage of VA, Military pay or what?

  38. Robbie Clark says

    Does BI-Lateral Tinitus (ringing in both ears) qualify for the bi-lateral 10% + 10% = 19% x 10% = 1.9% then 19% + 1.9 % = 21%? This may help me make 100%

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Robbie, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, tinnitus is only a 10% rating, regardless of whether it is present in one ear or both ears. It is not a separate rating for each ear.

  39. Joel says

    I have a combined rating of 70%. I have 10% Lower back strain. I have 10% radiculopathy, left lower extremity as a Secondary condition. 50% Tension headaches. 10% Tinnitus. 10% Chronic Thoracolumbar Strain, left side IVDS. 10% Mild Right Sciatic Radiculopathy as a secondary condition and 20% Moderate left sciatic radiculopathy as another secondary condition. So I added the following.
    50% + 20%= 60%
    60% + 10%= 64%
    64% + 10%= 68%
    68% + 10%= 71%
    71% + 10%= 74%
    74% + 10%= 77%

    Maybe I am doing something wrong but shouldn’t this be rounded up to 80% or do secondary conditions count for a lower percentage. all these numbers are coming straight from ebenefits.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Joel, Thank you for contacting me. Your math looks right to me. I’m not sure why the VA is showing a combined rating of 70%. I’m not familiar with how the secondary conditions are calculated, so perhaps that is the case. I recommend contacting the VA to inquire, or contacting a veterans benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, etc. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

    • Victor says


      Congratulations on your rating. All conditions are calculated according to the VA’s rating system. When you add “bilateral” conditions, they are actually worth more due to the fact that they are much more limiting to the Veteran.

      However, you might want to re-check your percentages again against your award letter. The VA is very good at calculating the combined ratings as they are automated.

      If you have a combined rating of 70%, then you are adding 1 too many 10%’s. And, IF I understand you correctly you have:

      50% = Tension Headaches
      10% = Chronic Thoracolumbar Strain
      10% = Right Sciatic Radiculopathy (leg)
      10% = Lower Back Strain
      10% = Tinnitus

      I am somewhat confused? You were rated 10% in the same extremity for the same condition? Let me know.

  40. Nazem Elmasri says

    I am on disability social security for bipolar disorder, and I am on medication for that , I also have a VA 10% disability for partial hearing loss, but now 2 years after being diagnosed with the hearing loss, I have osteoarthritis, diabetes,not on any medications for that and prostate problems on two medications for that
    …I am receiving all that from the VA hospital and clinic…Do you guys think that I am more than 10% disabled according to VA standards…I mean I volunteer where I live at the front desk as well a a dishwasher, will be attending college part time and can walk a lot but I am in pain most of the time.

    • Victor says


      Have you been treated for any of those diagnosed conditions you stated while in military service? Or, did you complain about any of those conditions while in service but was never diagnosed?

      Unfortunately, what some Veterans fail to understand is that the VA clinics/hospitals will diagnose and treat you for any condition that you may have however it does not mean that you will be service-connected. Unless there are presumptive conditions, for example like being exposed to tactical herbicides (Agent Orange) during Vietnam, in most cases the conditions would have to have manifested themselves while in service and documented in your service treatment records.

      If you don’t have your service treatment records, try ordering them from the National Personnel Records Center to review them. Or better yet, visit your nearest Veteran County Service Representative or nationally accredited VA Rep like the VFW, AMVET’s, American Legion, etc.


  41. Victor says


    What exactly do you mean that your rating were calculated incorrectly? Do you mean that you disagree with the rating for the condition or that the combined rating is incorrect?

    The reason I ask is because the VA’s combined ratings are calculated by computer and is very hard to dispute.

    In the case that you disagree with the rating decision, if you haven’t already you may need to submit a Notice of Disagreement to the VA and submit new and material evidence suggesting a higher rating.


    • Rich says

      Missed this thread and posted the same thing. So, if the VA is using a calculator now instead of the old VA math chart, shouldn’t they make that available to us, so we can see the numbers too, like with the old math chart?

      Thanks everyone!

  42. Gregory says

    I have read your article and understand the process of calculating the disability rating. Having said that, my rating was calculated incorrectly. Who should I contact to have it corrected?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Gregory, Thank you for contacting me. You should contact the VA and ask them to review your case. They should be able to explain your current rating, or make the changes accordingly. You may also find it helpful to speak with a benefits counselor at an organization such as the DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, VFW, etc. I hope this points you in the right direction. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  43. Charles says

    So how would secondary conditions affect the combined rating, or do they affect the numbers at all? I’m 70% overall with ratings of 40%, 20%, and 10% for both ankles. But I also have 10% for numbness in my right leg from my lowe back rating of 40% and then I have a 20% secondary rating for degenerative arthritis related to my right shoulder rating of 20%. I’m just trying to see does secondary conditions move the needle at all.

    • Victor says


      Remember that a doctor needs for first diagnose your condition and must suggest a nexus for secondary conditions with new and material medical evidence. Without that, you will never be service connected.

      ALSO, your primary service connected condition will also be RE-EVALUATED. Make sure that you have new and material medical evidence proving that the condition is still an issue.


  44. Joe says

    Ron I have 3 0% service contacted disability ratings. I have had them since 2006. I was unaware that multiple 0% can qualify me for a bump to 10% disability. Is there a way I can go about receiving that adjustment upwards or has the va already decided and that’s why I never received a 10% rating. Thanks

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Joe, Thank you for contacting me. Here is the reference in the US Code: § 3.324 Multiple noncompensable service-connected disabilities.

      Whenever a veteran is suffering from two or more separate permanent service-connected disabilities of such character as clearly to interfere with normal employability, even though none of the disabilities may be of compensable degree under the 1945 Schedule for Rating Disabilities the rating agency is authorized to apply a 10-percent rating, but not in combination with any other rating.

      I read this as that the conditions must interfere with employability. So I believe you need to show how these conditions affect your ability to work in the career you are, or were, trained to do. You will likely need to file an appeal for this. I recommend speaking with a veterans benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization, such as the DAV, AMVETS, etc. They offer free benefits claims assistance. I hope this points you in the right direction. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  45. Janelle Wolves says

    This is very nteresting and thanks for explaining VA magic math. Do you know how they actually determine the dollar amounts? Say for example, at 90% disability rating, you current draw $1743.48. This is 60% of the 100% amount (this is just the numbers for a single veteran). For example, 1743.48 divided by 2906.83 = .5997. If I calculate 90% of the full amount, that is 2906.83 * 90% = 2616.15. So how is it that a 90% disability rating gets only 60% of the full amount?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Janelle, Thank you for contacting me. To be honest, I haven’t read any official explanation regarding how the monetary compensation is determined. I do know that disability compensation is intended to compensate those who cannot work, based on the percentage of their disability – meaning, someone who is considered 90% disabled still has a 10% capacity to work. That said, all disabilities are different, and some people can still perform work at various ratings, while others may find it difficult, or impossible.

      The VA does have the ability to grant people a 100% rating if they are unemployable, even if their rating is less than 100% (this is the 100% Individual Unemployability, or IU rating). Veterans should speak to a veterans benefits counselor to learn more about this, and to see if they may be eligible for this rating. There are strict rules about who can receive this rating, and veterans under a 100% IU rating cannot maintain substantial gainful employment, or they can risk losing the 100% IU rating, and will revert back to their previous rating. I hope this is helpful. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  46. Arthur Adair says

    Ryan, I started out at 30%(10,10+10) in 1969, I have shrapnel in left calf and shrapnel in right foot,also had broken right wrist and shrapnel due to land mine.
    Does the to different legs wounds call for a(bilateral) rating?. and how would that effect me. Now to today, I have 50 PTSD, 30 for right wrist,10 for left leg,10 for right foot and 10 for something else?(I’m trying to look for what the other 10 is for), I’m being paid at the 100% rate do to unemployability, and I also get K award(loss of organ extremities(about $103.00 for the K award).
    Ryan after all of this writing, how would the (Bilateral) rating effect my comp all these years of increases from 30% to my 110% now. Thank you. Artie A

    • Ryan Guina says

      Arthur, Thank you for contacting me. I believe this would qualify for bilateral disability, but I’m not sure it would affect your rating since you are already receiving 100% due to unemployability. To see if this would affect your rating, you would need to use the chart using the following numbers:

      50% + 30% + 21% (bilateral for both 10% ratings for legs = 20.9%, which rounds up to 21%) + 10%

      50% + 30% = 65%

      65% + 21% = 73%

      73% + 10+ = 76%

      76% + 10% = 78%, which rounds up to 80%

      Keep in mind, this is an unofficial estimate – the VA provides the final rating. But this is based on their table and should be fairly accurate.

      It seems like the 100% rating for being unemployable is the better value. Your other ratings would need to be higher to receive the 100% schedular rating (rating based purely on the table, not on employability). I hope this helps. Best of luck, and thank you for your service!

  47. ronald jones says

    i have 70% rating now for ptsd and i have a claim in for sleep apena for which i have been issued a capac machaine what would be my new rating if approved by the va

    • Ryan Guina says

      Ronald, Thank you for contacting me. The answer depends on what the rating is for sleep apnea. The best way to get a good idea is to use the chart referenced in the article and plugging in the numbers for your current rating, and the possible rating you might receive. That’s the only way to get a good idea.

    • Victor says


      Assuming that the VA awards you 50% for Sleep Apnea (CPAP), then your combined rating would be 85, pushing you to 90% disability.

      So yes, you are correct.


  48. James says


    Just curious. If I get rated at 95% then from what I understand the VA will pay me at the 100% rate. Basically, 95% is round up to 100%?



    • Ryan Guina says

      James, The VA only awards ratings in 10% increments, and will round to the nearest 10. Anything that ends in a 4 or lower rounds down, and any number that ends in a 5 or higher rounds up. So if your combined rating comes out to 95, I believe it should round to 100%.

      • cathrine says

        I used a spreadsheet calculator that calculated them at 94.6 would that be rounded up to 95 or down to 90? ratings would be 60%, 30%, 20%, 20% and 10%.

      • Ryan Guina says

        Cathrine, Thank you for contacting me. I believe the VA rounds from the actual number, to the closest 10. So 94.6 would round down to 90. They don’t round to 95, then round again to 100. You would need a combined disability rating of at least 95% to have it round up to 100%. I hope this answers your question.

      • gino andracchio says

        Hello I’m helping a friend get to 100%…so far he was awarded 70..40..30..10 and 10 and the math comes to he has a claim for unemployability..if he wins the appeal will that put him to 100%..ty very much

  49. Andrew McKeown says

    Hey Ryan, I contacted you awhile back and was wondering if you had the chance to check out VetCalc. I just wanted to update you and tell it is now totally free to download. Your analytics are no doubt more robust than mine, but I would be willing to either pay you for a link on this page ( or blog about your site. Let me know. Great job on the post.



  50. JC says

    You seem to have a good grasp on how disability benefits are calculated. I have yet to get a clear answer, so I figured I would ask you….

    I currently have a 40% disability rating (Spine Range of Motion), but there were a number of items the VA overlooked that I had submitted on, which are in the appeal process now. All of the issues stem from my original back issue (compression fractures).

    Say I receive another 20% for the sciatica that’s root cause was due to the back fractures I’m rated 40% for, would my rating be 60% or do they look at this as separate conditions and use VA math to get to 52%?

    I appreciate your help with this.

    • Ryan Guina says

      JC, Thank you for contacting me. I’m sorry, but I’m not 100% certain how the VA would rate this. I believe the VA would consider it two different ratings, in which case it would be a 40% and a 20%. I believe each specific condition is rated on its own merits, and isn’t added to other ratings to make a higher rating. Again, I’m not 100% certain, this is only based on my understanding. I would ask the VA for further clarification, or consult with a benefits counselor at a Veterans Service Organization.

  51. Kenneth Droddy says

    I still don’t undrestand how I am at at 80%. I have had five back sugerys they are service conected and the VA botched one sugery which made me lose the function of one of my legs. They had me at 80% before the last two sugerys.

  52. Andrew says


    I have a interesting question for you. One of the doctors involved with my C&P appointments called me the other day. She was giving me the results of an MRI. She told me what she saw, clear as day, no doubt about it. She then told me she went back through my VA medical history, and then my Active Duty medical history. She found X-rays from the AD time frame that showed the early stages of Degenerative Disc Disease. The X-rays were from 1998. She also noted that the original C&P finding was written up as low back strain, and rated 10%. She told me that this was clearly incorrect and is going to correct that original finding and note in my records as such. She said that this will change my original rating code and % as well. Can I expect a backcheck for the difference going back to 1998, or what? Thanks for your time.

    Semper Fi.

  53. Andrew Thompson says


    I had forgotten that originally I started out at 30%. Which was 3 10s combined for a 27, rounding to 30. Then 18 months later they gave 10% for bilateral knee syndrome. That brought it up to 34(from 27…) and then 10% of that again takes it to 37.4%. Which brings it up to 40%. And the missing 10%(or so I originally thought) only takes it to 43%. Which leaves me at the grand total of…40%. Now I see the light, but it’s kinda dim and not shining on me. Anyway, I’m in the middle of upgrade/secondary claims process, and 2 more the file after these play out. I’m going down the only road I’ve ever known…all by myself. Every time I muster up the courage to speak to a VSO I get waylaid by anxiety and then I get too afraid of rocking the boat and losing what I do have.

    Thanks for replying so quickly. I appreciate it very much.

    Semper Fi.

  54. Andrew Thompson says

    I can see clearly now, the rain is gone….oh wait, still foggy. Anyway. I recently discovered that the VA bumped my S/C hearing loss of 0% to 10%…back in 2006. I was already at 40%, and there was no increase in my compensation. The afformentioned and explained chart shows 40 + 10 = 46% which rounds to 50. Is my fuzzy math correct? I have asked several VA employees and they had no explaination. I understood your math breakdown, but this isn’t a case of the 10 being added in during the initial rating phase.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Andrew, Thank you for contacting me. A 40 + a 10 would be 46, which rounds up to 50. But was your rating exactly 40? Or did you have several different ratings that added up to 40 after rounding?

      When the VA adds another rating, they won’t start with your last score. They will group the new rating in with all the old ratings.

      For example, say you had a 36. That would round up to a 40. If you add another 10% disability rating to that, you don’t start with 40, you start with the 36. A rating of 36 + a rating of 10 = 42, which rounds down to 40.

      Does this sound like it might apply to your situation?

    • randy says

      Depends on if your 40% was for one condition meaning.
      Back 30%
      eye 10% = 37%
      now add 10% for ear would be 6% plus 37% = 43% round down to 40%

  55. Andrew McKeown says

    Hey Ryan, nice job explaining the intricacies of VA Math! You nailed it, my friend! A few months ago a created a mobile app called “VetCalc” that performs VA Math calculations including bilateral factor inputs. VetCalc also provides an estimated monthly payment based on any unique dependency situation. It can be purchased on both Apple and Android platforms for just 99 cents. From my experience, Veterans often overlook the importance of making sure the VA Math on their claim is correct, especially when the bilateral factor is involved. I provide several examples of the impact of erroneous VA Math at my website Again really nice job on the article! Regards Andrew McKeown

    • Todd says

      Yes I’m finding this very interesting what are bilateral factor inputs ? I’m confused I don’t understand I thought they added up your different ratings apply it to the chart and get your new rating which I still don’t understand that because I was rated at 30% but I think the VSO said I had like 43 that gave me a rating of 30 but I just got an increase of 50% for a disability and they now say I’m at 70 and I get a letter today almost 3 months after the VA gave me there decisions on the claims I claimed and I got the additional 50 which they say brought me to 70 but the letter I got today sais they changed one of there decisions and awarded me an addiontal 50% for ptsd-depressive and anxiety and they say my new rating is 80 % now but when I add with the chart I come up with something else I’m lost. Any help would be appreciated sir

  56. Doug @ The-Military-Guide says

    Great post, Ryan– thanks for demystifying the numbers!

    I started my VA claim last month, and it looks a lot like your example– bilateral knee damage and hearing loss. Now I finally understand how the numbers add up, and I can focus on documenting everything. I’ll keep you posted…

    • Ryan Guina says

      Best of luck with your disability claim, Doug. It’s definitely a good idea to utilize the assistance of a Veterans Service Officer at a VSO. They offer free VA benefits claims assistance. The system can be difficult to navigate, even if you know what you are doing. So having someone double check your claim is highly recommended. I’m sure you’ll have some great information to share after going through the claims process!

      • stanislaw schab says

        Hey, I am lite confused because my overall rating is 80% with 2 disabilities rated 90% and 30%. It doesn’t quite match up your rating table. Could you please explain how is that possible. …

      • Ryan Guina says

        Stanislaw, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer here. The chart used on my site was taken from VA sources, so that should be how it is calculated. I recommend speaking with someone at the VA, or from a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV.

      • Mutschler says

        Thats because you have 90% out of 100% leaving you with 10%
        10 – 30% would give you 3 your Total is 93% so the VA rounds down to 90%

    • Phil says

      What is the rating for Tinnitus? I’m seeing a lot of people with a 10% rating. I’m service connected for Tinnitus, but my rating is only 0%. If 10% is a new automatic rating. Would I be entitled to back pay from the time that I received my original rating? Thanks

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