You’ve got a service-connected disability rated at 20 percent. Now what? This guide covers everything you need to know about your VA disability benefits, including what they are, how they work and when disabled veterans are eligible for them.
In this post, we will cover the following topics – updated for 2023:
- What is a VA Disability Rating?
- What is the compensation for a 20% VA Disability Rating?
- What compensation is available for dependents at the 90% VA Disability Rating?
- What are the top 20% VA Disability Rating Benefits?
- Social Security with 20% VA Disability
- 20% VA Disability and Extraschedular TDIU
- How do you increase a 20% VA Disability Rating?
Ready to learn all about 20% VA Disability Benefits? Let’s dive in!
What is a VA Disability Rating?
VA Disability Ratings are assigned to you by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), based on the severity of your service-connected condition. Your disability rating will determine how much disability compensation you will receive each month, as well as your eligibility for other VA disability benefits.
If you have multiple disability ratings, they use them to calculate your combined VA disability rating. Calculating your combined disability rating involves more than just adding up your individual ratings. That’s why when you combine ratings, it may be different than the sum of your individual ratings.
What are some common disabilities that the VA rates at 20 percent?
There are several VA disabilities that are commonly rated at 20%. Here are a few examples:
- Knee injuries: Knee injuries are common among veterans, especially those who served in combat or engaged in physical activities during their service. A knee injury that limits the range of motion or causes pain may be rated at 20%.
- Migraines: Migraines are a type of headache that can be debilitating, with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. If a veteran experiences migraines that interfere with their ability to work or perform daily activities, they may be rated at 20%.
- Back pain: Back pain is a common complaint among veterans, especially those who engaged in physically demanding activities during their service. A veteran with chronic back pain that limits their ability to work or perform daily activities may be rated at 20%.
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It is a common disability among veterans, especially those who were exposed to smoke or other airborne hazards during their service. If a veteran’s sleep apnea requires the use of a breathing device, they may be rated at 20%.
It’s important to note that these are just a few examples of disabilities that may be rated at 20%. The specific rating for a disability will depend on the severity of the condition and how it impacts the veteran’s ability to work and perform daily activities.
What is the compensation for a 20% VA Disability Rating?
The 2023 compensation rate (an 8.7% increase) for a 20% VA disability rating is $327.99. For more information about compensation for dependents, our 2023 VA Disability Rates and Compensation article covers all the updates for the year.
It is important to consider that, a 20% rating increase, which at 40% VA disability rating is $731.86 could have you receiving over $400 a month more in compensation benefits!
Ultimately, a higher disability rating equates to a greater amount of monthly benefits. Therefore, it’s a very important thing to consider when you are at a 20% rating.
Service-Connecting Other Disabilities to Increase Your 20 Percent Rating
Service-connected disabilities are those that are considered to be related to your time in military service. If you already have a service-connected disability, you may be able to increase your VA disability rating by connecting additional disabilities to your service. Here are some steps you can take to increase your rating:
- Understand the VA’s disability rating system: The VA rates disabilities on a scale from 0 to 100 percent in increments of 10 percent. The rating you receive is based on the severity of your disability and how much it impacts your ability to work and perform daily activities.
- Review your medical records: If you have any other medical conditions that you believe are related to your time in service, review your medical records to see if they were documented during your military service or developed shortly thereafter.
- Get a medical opinion: If you believe you have a disability related to your service, you can get a medical opinion from a doctor or healthcare provider. They can review your medical records and examine you to determine if your condition is related to your military service.
- Submit a claim to the VA: If you believe you have a service-connected disability, you can submit a claim to the VA for disability benefits. You will need to provide evidence that your disability is related to your military service, such as medical records or a medical opinion.
- Attend a VA examination: Once you submit your claim, the VA may schedule you for a compensation and pension (C&P) exam. This exam is conducted by a VA healthcare provider and is used to evaluate your disability and determine your disability rating.
- Appeal a decision: If your claim is denied or you believe you are entitled to a higher rating, you can appeal the VA’s decision. You will need to provide additional evidence to support your claim, such as new medical records or a new medical opinion.
How do I increase my 20 VA Disability Rating?
If you are considering trying to increase your 20% VA Disability Rating, you have a few options to consider. They include:
- Filing for an appeal within the VA’s deadlines (before one year of your rating decision)
- Filing a new claim for an increased rating
- Filing for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU)
- Filing for secondary service connection
If you are considering filing for an appeal, our knowledgeable team at Hill & Ponton, P.A. would be happy to assist you with this process.
What are Some of the Top 20% VA Disability Rating Benefits?
In addition to the aforementioned VA disability compensation benefits and compensation for dependents, veterans may also be entitled to different types of VA benefits.
Health Care Benefits
Veterans at a 20% VA Disability Rating receive low-cost health care services. Some of the services they are entitled to include:
- Preventative care
- In-patient services
- Mental health care
- Medical equipment
- Dental care, glasses and hearing aids
- Emergency care at non-VA facilities
- Medical travel benefits
- An increase in healthcare to Priority Group 3 (free outpatient care and urgent-care visits)
- Possible Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) support
- Burial and plot allowance
- VA-backed home loan fee waiver
- Travel pay for VA healthcare for service-connected conditions
- 10-point veteran preference for federal jobs
- Use of base or post commissaries, exchanges, morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) retail facilities, in-person and online
20% VA Disability and Extraschedular TDIU
Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) is a disability benefit that allows veterans to be compensated at a 100% disability rate, even if their combined schedular rating does not equal 100 percent. TDIU is awarded when veterans are unable to secure or follow substantially gainful employment due to their service-connected condition(s).
In order to qualify for TDIU, a veteran must have:
- One service-connected condition rated at 60 percent or higher; or
- Two or more service-connected conditions, one of which is rated at least 40 percent disabling, with a combined rating of at least 70 percent.
Those who do not meet these requirements may still be considered for TDIU, but their case must be referred for extraschedular consideration, by filing VA Form 21-8940, Veterans Application for Increased Compensation Based on Unemployability.
Veterans rated at 90 percent disabled should consider applying for TDIU if the circumstances warrant. TDIU is a way for veterans to receive the highest amount of disability compensation possible.
How do you increase a 20% VA Disability Rating?
If you believe the severity of your condition may entitle you to a higher rating, you can file an appeal (within one year of your rating decision), or file a new claim to increase your rating.
You can also file a claim for a secondary service condition if you later developed any conditions or symptoms as a result of other service-connected disabilities, which could also increase your combined disability rating.
If you are interested in learning more about filing for disability benefits, check out our FREE ebook The Road to VA Compensation Benefits.
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