Disabled veterans got a Christmas present from the Veterans Administration in the form of a pay raise. After receiving no increase the last two years, a 3.6% raise looks pretty good. To put this in perspective, a 100% disabled veteran with a spouse and no dependent children or parents who was receiving $2,823 per month before the raise now receives $2,924 or $101 more. It’s not a princely sum but it is better than we have been doing in recent years. Because of the arcane way the VA assigns disability percentages, not everyone will get 3.4% more than they were getting. In many cases, they will but others, with more complicated situations will get something a bit different. Understanding the VA rate tables is essential to determining what one’s new compensation should be. The VA rate tables can be found at: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/comp01.htm
I think I may have figured out how the VA computes disability percentages for veterans with multiple disabilities. It’s not simple. If you have three disabilities– say a 60%, a 30% and a 10%–that total 10% under the normal rules of mathematics, you aren’t rated at 100% by the VA. They determine disability percentages as being 100% minus an efficiency percentage. If your first disability (in order of severity) is 60%, you are 40% efficient (100%-60%). The second disability (30% in this case) leaves only 70% of the efficiency remaining after the first disability or 28% (40% times 70%). The third disability (10%) leaves 90% of the efficiency remaining after the second disability was deducted or 25% (28% times 90%). Subtracting the combined remaining efficiency from 100% yields 75% (100% minus 25%). The VA rounds this percentage to the nearest 10% for a combined disability of 80%. Eighty percent is a far cry from 100%, particularly the way the VA computes compensation. An 8% disability does not get 80% of what a 100% disability gets. For example, an 80% disabled vet with a spouse gets $1,602 per month, not $2,339 (80% of $2,924). You can find the VA’s explanation of how they compute multiple disabilities at http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp under section 4.25 Combined Ratings Table.