Today we discuss how to get a 100% service connection for VA benefits. We get clients asking us, all the time, what’s in it for them. How to get to 100 Disability Rating from VA? And why is it so hard to get to 100%?
Hi there. Matthew Hill here, with Carol Ponton, from Hill and Ponton. And we’re here to talk to you, today, about getting 100% service connection for VA benefits. We get clients asking us, all the time, what’s in it for them. Why get to 100? And why is it so hard to get to 100%? First of all, there are two ways to get to 100%. The first way is to have either one rating or combined ratings that equal 100%. And as we’ve seen, and our vets have seen, the VA doesn’t do one plus two equals three math. They’ve got a strange way of combining things. And the closer you get to 100%, the harder it is to get 100%. There’s a whole chart– combination chart in the VA regulations– that we won’t get into. But suffice it to say that it’s really, really hard to get a combined rating of 100%.
Well, I think the best way to explain it is, if the VA finds you 40% disabled, then, they figure you only have 60% of your body left. So the next time you get disability, it’s– say it’s 20%– instead of adding 20 with 40, they go, well, it’s 20% of the 60% left, which is 12%, which gives you 52%, not 60%. And as you can see, each time, it gets harder and harder to get to 100. And that’s why they have the other way to get 100%, which is called total disability due to unemployability. Or unemployability, or IU. Right.
And that’s for people that aren’t working, and that, they have a combination of disabilities that would equal 70%. They have to have one that equals at least 40, out of that. And a lot of times, it’s much easier for a veteran to get 100% through the unemployability rating procedure as supposed to a scheduler 100%. And it’s important to understand that the VA regulations for compensation are based around, how much of a diminished capacity does the veteran have from working. So looking at the veteran’s service connected disabilities, how much do they prohibit the veteran from working? What kind of impairment is that? So in theory, someone getting 100% anyway would be completely unable to work. That’s not true. You can get 100% ratings that aren’t where the veteran cannot work. But the beauty of unemployability is, even if you can’t get your ratings to combine together to 100%, if you can show that, due to those disabilities, you can no longer work, then the VA has to compensate you at 100%. Right. And it’s amazing, the difference. Say you’ve been being paid at the rate of 90%. That’s $1,689, as opposed to 100%, which is $2,800 or more. So just in the monetary value alone, that’s a significant improvement. But the thing that people don’t realize is, 100% gives you incredible benefits. It’s as if you retired from the VA. You get– From the military. From the military. You can get a card that allows you to go on base, to use all the services on base, including the commissary, the PX.
You get everything covered by the VA, as far as any medical problems. You get glasses covered, your dental covered. Any problem, physically, you have, or mentally, whether it’s service connected or not, is covered fully by the VA. There are no more copays. The other you get is, if you’re married, your spouse is entitled to medical coverage. A lot of the states have incredible benefits for 100% disabled veterans. Now the one caveat is that it’s 100%, permanent and total. If you have a temporary 100%, or you have a 100% that’s to be reviewed, then you do not get most of these secondary benefits. Right. But the permanent and total 100%, you’re going to get– in many states, you don’t have to pay any property tax, which is significant. You don’t have to pay for a driver’s license. You don’t have to pay for your license plate. You don’t even have to pay for a fishing license. They’re incredible benefits that not only the government, but many states, have enacted. I know, if you go into a national park, if you’re a disabled veteran, it’s free. You don’t pay, yeah. And the other thing that a lot of people don’t realize is, when a veteran dies, if they had been 100% disabled by the VA for 10 years, then their spouse is automatically entitled to a benefit. Otherwise, their spouse may get nothing. Right. The spouse can always apply, when the veteran dies, for what’s called DIC benefits, which is a monthly pension. But typically, you have to show that the veteran died of a service connected disability– it was either the direct cause, or a contributing cause of death.
But what Carol’s saying is, if the veteran’s permanent and total 100% for 10 years– Or more. –or more, then it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what he died of. The VA will have to pay the widow compensation. And that’s typically very comforting in veterans’ minds, to know that their spouse will be left with something when they pass. Right. And you know, our firm also does social security. And often, for some reason, the veterans feel they’re not entitled to both. But you can get social security disability– the full benefit– as well as 100% VA benefits. And both of those combined together, you’re probably not even going to be paying taxes on those. And that’s the other thing. Remember, all the benefits you get from the VA are tax free. There are so many benefits that I forget all of the ones that are available. And Carol just brought up a really good point about social security. If you’re a veteran, you’re on social security disability, and it’s due to a service connected disability– so say you have PTSD rated at 70%. You go into the social security hearing, and they grant you social security disability that’s based on that PTSD– that’s a really good hint that you are being undercompensated by the VA. If you’re on social security disability due to a VA disability, you need to be at either 100% for VA or at unemployability. And again, with the difference in benefits, social security is a gracious benefit. But it’s around, what, $1,200 a month? Well, it depends on your earnings. But I think the most is $2,400, $2,500 a month. That is the very max. And that’s somebody who’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Whereas, again, VA, you’re at $2,800, just for a single person. That’s a 2012 compensation table. But it’s there. And a lot of vets don’t realize it.
As Carol said, 90% is not 90% of the full 100% payment. It’s VA math, again. So it’s important, both for you and your family, to maximize your compensation. So the way I think of it is, the overall architecture of the VA system is, the more diminished your capacity is to work, the less you can work, the higher your rating should be. So if you’re all the way at the point where you’re not working, or you’re working and making less than $1,000 a month, you should be getting 100% due to your ratings being combined, or through unemployability. Right. So we will talk to you again soon. But remember, 100% is when you’re not working. And there’s tons of auxiliary, secondary benefits for that.