The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently updated portions of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities. This Schedule evaluates infectious diseases, immune disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. It helps claims processors evaluate the severity of certain disabilities, which allows them to assign specific ratings. In fact, the VA is currently updating all 15 body systems of the Schedule across the nation. They are hopeful these updates will accurately reflect modern medicine.
According to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, this update has many benefits. Most notably, it would allow veterans to receive a disability decision based on the most up-to-date medical knowledge.
When rating claims prior to August 11, 2019, the claims processors will use both the old and new criteria. Whichever criteria are more favorable to the Veteran will be applied.
Claims processors will use the new Schedule when rating all claims filed after October 11. The most recent updates to the Schedule relate to nutritional deficiencies, immune disorders, and infectious diseases.
How Does the Veterans Disability Rating Schedule Work?
Disabilities are broken down into different categories on the Schedule of Rating Disabilities. The specific body part affected the most determines its category on the Schedule. Every category in the Schedule contains various groups of medical issues. It is then further broken down into diagnoses with a specific diagnostic code.
As an example, under the category for Digestive System , you would find:
- Weight loss
- Co-existing abdominal conditions
- Post-gastrectomy syndrome
Under Ulcers, there are three diagnoses, and under each diagnosis are four different ratings.
In this example, a Veteran could have: Ulcer—Duodenal—Severe—60%.
Once they reach the level of severity, there are symptoms listed which the veteran must suffer to qualify.
When the VA Assigns a Rating
When the VA assigns a rating for a veteran, they must carefully review all medical evidence in his or her file. It is only possible to get benefits under one diagnostic code, even if the veteran suffers from two or more “codes.”
If a specific disability is not yet listed, the VA will search for a similar disability, then base your disability on that diagnostic code. A single veteran with no dependents and a 50% rating would receive $839 as of 2017. A married veteran with a child would receive $979 for the 50% rating. Veterans with more children, a disabled spouse, or those who support parents could receive more benefits.
Some veterans find their disability worsened while they waited for the VA to make a decision. In this case, the veteran could request that the VA assign different ratings for different periods of time while the application was pending. This is known as “staged ratings.”
The VA will review the medical evidence. They may choose to assign a higher rating for the time during which the symptoms worsened. The same is true in reverse. If the disability improved during the time the veteran was waiting for approval, then a lower rating could be assigned.
Contact Our VA Disability Attorneys Today
When filing a VA disability claim, it is important to know that the Schedule recently changed. Your ratings determine the benefits you may receive. To learn more or to help file an appeal after a claim denial, call an experienced VA disability lawyer at Tucker Law Group today. You can fill out our confidential contact form or call us at (866) 233-5044 for a consultation and review of your potential case. Our attorneys help veterans with service-connected disability compensation claims across the nation.