Veterans Affairs Disability Claim Uses Fuzzy Math
“Fuzzy Math”, is more like math with several months of growth, it is well beyond “fuzzy”. When working with a Veterans Affairs Disability rating, you need to first understand it’s a combined rating, NOT an accumulative or added rating. (That’s why 50% + 50% doesn’t equal 100%.)
I spent countless hours trying to figure out how the VA determines a veteran’s disability rating. And I think I can explain it in English.
You take the percentage for any particular medical condition, you take your current rating and you
put that and your other disabilities in a blender, turn on and puree everything and then simply make up a number.
Seriously, let me try to explain this mess. Keep in mind that the only reason for something like this is to make it more difficult for veterans to get a reasonable disability claim. If you were honestly concerned about making sure every veteran gets the claim that they deserve, you would make it easy for them and use an accumulative method.
The VA uses a concept that they call “Whole Person Remaining”. “Whole Person Remaining”, is often called “able-bodied rating”. When you joined the military, the military considered you 100% able-bodied or there was 100% of a “Whole Person Remaining”
When you get a disability rating from the VA, you become less able-bodied or less of a “Whole Person Remaining”
With every disability rating you receive, the VA takes that out of your able-bodied rating.
We will use “Jon”, who was in the Army for 4 years. While he was on active duty, he hurt his back.
As a veteran, he filed a claim and he received a rating of 20%.
This means Jon is 20% disabled, and 80% able-bodied
Now Jon has filed a claim for his left knee, and he received another rating of 10%. To get his overall rating, we need to take that 10% out of his 80% able-bodied rating.
The math for that .2 x 80% is 8. We need to take that 8 out of his 80% able-bodied making him now 72% able-bodied
To get his new disability rating we need to take his current disability rating of 20% and add 8 to it for a new rating of 28% rounded up to make a 30% disability rating.
The higher your disability rating, the harder it becomes to actually receive a higher rating.
Now we will use “Mike” for the next example.
Mike filed his first claim for several issues, including, his right shoulder, left foot, and both of his knees.
Right Shoulder Strain (also claimed as pain) is granted with an evaluation of 20%
Left foot strain with degenerative arthritis is granted with an evaluation of 10%
Left knee strain (also claimed as pain and limited range of motion) is granted with an evaluation of 10%
Right knee strain (also claimed as pain and limited range of motion) is granted with an evaluation of 10%
Doing The Math
Right Shoulder Strain = 20% rating / 100 – 20 = 80% whole body
Whole Body is 80% and his new combined rating is 20%
Left knee strain = 10% or 0.1 x 80% = 8 then you take his 80% total body from above and subtract that 8 from it and get 72% whole body (non-disabled)
His rating is 20% + 8% = 28% or rounded up to 30%
Right knee strain = 10% or 0.1 x 72 = 7.2, then you take his 72% total body from above and subtract 7 from it and get 65% whole body (non-disabled)
For his new rating, you take 28% +7 and you get 35%, rounded to 40%
Left foot strain = 10% or 0.1 x 65 = 6.5, then you take his 65% total body from above and subtract 6 from it and get 57% whole body (non-disabled)
For his new rating, you take 35% + 6.5 and you get 42%, rounded down to 40% disability
For his second claim, Mike submitted a claim for his asthma and a persistent cough.
Asthma with Persistent Cough is granted with an evaluation of 60%
Asthma / Lungs = 60% or .6 x 42 = 34.2, then you take his 57% disabled and subtract 34.2 from it and you get 23% whole body (non-disabled) – If you are scratching your head, trying to figure out where I got the 57% and the 42 that was used to calculate his rating. The 57% came from a previous claim (left foot strain) and was the whole body percentage. The 42 was the amount that Mike was previously disabled. I color-coded the figures so you can see where they came from.
For his new rating, you take 57% + 34.2 and you get 77%, rounded to 80% disabled.
***NOTE*** that my examples are very basic, there are several factors that can impact your rating. One is the bilateral factor, the website TheMilitaryWallet.com has a very good explanation of how this works. 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 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 Bilateral Factor = (The VA Math Sum of Your 2 Quadrant Rating) x 1.9%
Now that you have a little better feel for how this works, there are some calculators online that work and some that don’t. The one on the VA’s website works, but it is very basic. (make sure that you hit the calculate button after adding or removing anything).
This is part of a Veterans Affairs Disability Claim series:
- Veterans Affairs Disability Claim Process
- Veterans Affairs Disability Claim Uses Fuzzy Math
- Find Accredited Attorneys, Claims Agents, or Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) Representatives
- Military Medical and Health Records
- Playing the VA Disability Claim Game
- VA Disability Claims Pro-Tips
- VA Disability Claims Pro-Tips #2
- A Look Deep Into The Veterans Affairs Disability Claims
- VA Most Commonly Approved Disability Claims