If you are in need of VA disability, you want to make sure you are getting the best payment you are eligible for. The VA adjusts their rates every year to account for inflation and other changes to the cost of living. 2021 VA disability rates have already factored in any changes to the economy when determining the base rate.
The good news is that you don’t have to do anything for this adjustment to be applied to your payment. Getting the best payment is much more about making sure several other factors are accurate, rather than worrying about the rate.
It All Starts With Your Exam
VA Disability payments are determined by multiplying the annual rate by several modifiers, including your marital status, how many children dependents you have, the ages of your kids, and whether or not you have dependent parents. The most important factor is your percentage of disability. Your disability rating is determined by a doctor’s exam, typically conducted by a VA doctor.
The accuracy of this rating is very important to your final determination. Be honest with the doctor when you meet. Don’t try to prove how tough you are by underestimating the impact of your injuries, whether referring to obvious physical injuries like damaged limbs, or especially to invisible ailments like PTSD. If you act like your PTSD does not impact you as severely as it does, this can strongly impact your total rating.
After your exam, your doctor will provide a disability rating for each of your injuries. If you have multiple injuries, the percentages stack, so having multiple injuries of 20 or 30 percent can still equal a larger disability if you have several of them.
These injuries do not stack through simple addition. There is a formula for adding them together. The basic premise is to start with the largest disability and subtract from 100 percent. The second-largest percentage is now taken as a percentage of this total, then subtracted. Now do the same with the third-largest, then the fourth, and so on. The basic net effect is that the total disability is slightly less than the sum of these would have been if just added to each other.
The easiest way to figure out your total percentage disability is to use an online disability calculator. This is a simple tool that lets you just put in where your injuries are, and what percentage each is. It will do the math for you. Many of them even include the questions on your dependents that will need to be answered when filling out your rate table.
100 Percent is Best
If you want to get the largest payment possible, the most important factor is the total percentage of disability. You want this to be rated as 100 percent if at all possible. While it is difficult to reach 100 percent in combined disability unless you have some major catastrophic injuries, there are other paths to 100 percent. TDIU is a term meaning total disability due to individual unemployability.
TDIU is a little harder to get approved. It requires either a single disability with a rating of at least 60 percent or a cumulative disability of at least 70 percent, with at least one injury of 40 percent or more. This will need to be paired with evidence that you are unable to achieve gainful employment.
There are also dispensations that would allow TDIU with less than 60 percent disability, but these would require significant evidence of unemployability, and are approved on a case by case basis.
In closing, the best VA disability rates of any year will involve having the highest disability rating you are eligible for. If you have difficulties with getting your case approved, you might need representation from an attorney that specializes in disability cases. Don’t hesitate to seek help!