A Christmas Present from the VA

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.

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