If you are a veteran with a service-connected disability, you are likely able to receive disability compensation as a result of your injuries. The amount of your monthly payment is based on the VA disability rating you get assigned when you apply for disability benefits. This rating is a percentage and determines the total amount of compensation you deserve.
In general, the higher your disability rating, the more compensation you will receive for your injuries suffered in active duty military service. To receive the full amount, you need a disability rating of 100 percent. This rating is hard to achieve and indicates complete and total disability.
If you achieve a 90 percent VA disability rating, you have a high rating. This percent provides quite a large amount of compensation. This guide will explore what that means and how much compensation you may receive with a 90 percent disability rating.
Combined Rating System for Multiple Disabilities
For disabled veterans, the VA uses a combined rating system to determine eligibility for veteran’s benefits. This combined rating system uses a special formula to determine a percentage for a veteran who has more than one disability.
Unfortunately, this system is not as simple as adding the disability ratings for the disabilities together and finding a total. If a veteran has a desirability that is rated at 30 percent and another that is rated at 50 percent, they are not automatically at 80 percent.
The VA rates each injury or illness individually, not considering other illnesses or injuries, unless the two are connected. Once each disability has its rating, the VA will start with the one that has the highest rating, then combine the additional disabilities to it. the VA has a ratings table that shows how these get combined. Here is what the table looks like:
If a veteran has a four injuries that are rated at 30 percent, 20 percent, 10 percent and 10 percent, the veteran will start at the 30 percent mark, then move across the table to see where it intersects at the 20 percent mark. This point gives a rating of 44 percent. Then, to add the two 10 percent ratings, the veteran will start at 44 percent and find the intersection between 44 and 10, which is 50 percent. Do this again to find the intersection of 50 and 10, which is 55 percent.
Thus, the veteran in the example would have a combined disability rating of 55 percent.
Using this type of VA math, you can see how it would be hard to get to a 90 percent VA disability rating.
90% Disability Compensation Rates
If you are able to use a combination of disabilities to reach a 90 percent rating, you are eligible to receive a high level of compensation. The monthly payment amount depends on many factors, including how many dependent children the veteran has, whether or not the veteran is married and whether or not the veteran has parents in the home. The more children and other dependents the veteran has, the more their monthly compensation will be.
Based on the 2022 VA disability compensation rates, the rates for a veteran with a 90 percent rating are as follows:
- $2,109.52 for a veteran with one child, but no spouse or dependent parents.
- $2,287.52 for a veteran with one child, a spouse, but no dependent parents.
- $2,421.52 for a veteran with one child, a spouse, and one dependent parent.
- $2,555.52 for a veteran with one child, a spouse, and two dependent parents.
- $2,243.52 for a veteran with one child, no spouse, and one dependent parent.
- $2,377.52 for a veteran with one child, no spouse, and 2 dependent parents.
The VA makes allowances for additional compensation. These include:
- $83 for each additional child under the age of 18.
- $268 for each additional child over the age of 18 who is in a qualifying school program.
- $153 if the spouse receives Aid and Attendance.
What is the Difference Between 90% and 100% VA Disability?
Even though 90 percent and 100 percent seem very close, the additional compensation benefits you receive if you are deemed 100 percent disabled are quite significant. A total disability means you are completely unable to work and require all of your income from the VA. Here is what that compensation looks like:
- $3,456.30 for a veteran with one child, but no spouse or dependent parents.
- $3,653.89 for a veteran with one child, a spouse, but no dependent parents.
- $3,802.99 for a veteran with one child, a spouse, and one dependent parent.
- $3,952.09 for a veteran with one child, a spouse, and two dependent parents.
- $3,605.40 for a veteran with one child, no spouse, and one dependent parent.
- $3,754.50 for a veteran with one child, no spouse, and 2 dependent parents.
Injured service members can receive the following additional VA disability benefits:
- $92.31 for each additional child under the age of 18.
- $298.18 for each additional child over the age of 18 who is in a qualifying school program.
- $170.38 if the spouse receives Aid and Attendance.
These rates are subject to increase based on cost-of-living adjustments. Any time Social Security benefits increase for cost-of-living, the VA disability benefits must increase by the same amount.
Increasing 90% VA Disability Rating to 100% Rating
Because there is such a substantial difference between the 90 percent VA disability pay and the 100 percent pay, over $1,300 a month in most cases, veterans are motivated to get to the 100 percent rating. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to do. Even with a disability rating of 90 percent for one disability and 94 percent for the other, the combined disability ratings table would only award 99 percent.
The best way to increase your 90 percent rating to a 100 percent rating is to appeal the decision. Because you stand to gain over $1,300 a month in additional veterans benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs if you are approved, this is a worthwhile endeavor. However, you will want to enlist the help of a VA benefits attorney to ensure you go through the appeals process correctly.
That said, even with an appeal, getting to 100 percent is hard using the combined disability ratings procedures. A better option is to consider Total Disability Individual Unemployability or TDIU.
Does 90% Disability Make You Eligible for Individual Unemployability?
the TDIU program is a program that lets the VA pay some veterans compensation at the 100 percent rate, even if the service connected disabilities rate lower. To be eligible, you must:
- Be a US veteran
- Not be able to hold a job because of your service connected disability. This applies only to substantially gainful employment, not side jobs.
- Have a disability that is rated at 60percent or higher or a combined ratings table disability of 70 percent or more.
If you cannot work because of your disability, this program may allow you to get the full veterans disability benefit, without the need to go through the disability appeals process to get an increased rating. A 90 percent rating does qualify, as long as your impairment from your medical condition prevents you from working.
How Do I Increase My 90% Disability Rating?
Though 90 percent is a good rating for service-related disability using the combined disability ratings table, it is still a lower VA disability pay rate than a 100 percent rating. With that lower rating comes significantly lower monthly payments. If you have a 90 percent and do not qualify for TDIU, you may want to appeal your rating to get a higher number.
The appeals process is not an easy one, but vets who are ready to tackle it need to start at their local VA office. There, they will receive the appropriate VA form to start the appeal. You can choose one of three routes to tackle this:
- Higher-Level Review Lane – This route has a rating specialist take a look at your VA disability claim to determine if the rate is fair. You are not allowed to submit any new medical evidence if you choose this path.
- Supplemental Claim Lane – If you feel that you have new medical records or other evidence to submit, this path lets you do so. The VA also is required to help you gather that evidence if you choose this route.
- Notice of Disagreement Lane – This is your final option, and through this option, you will appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to have your case looked at more closely.
While you are waiting for your case to be appealed, gather evidence about the impairments you have, unless you choose the Higher-Level Review Lane. Make sure that you consider mental health as well as medical needs in this process.
The appeals process can be stressful, and the right guidance is important to ensure you get a fair appeal. Hill & Ponton, P.A., has helped over 30,000 veterans secure the benefits they deserve as a result of their service. Our team will help you determine if an appeal is the right route, or if you should use for unemployability. Our goal is to help you achieve 100 percent disability compensation, whether through your actual disability benefits or through the TDIU program.
Our legal team is passionate about helping veterans, and we will help gather the facts you need for a successful appeal. We will request your C-File and analyze your case for you, helping you prepare an appeal that is backed by facts and hard evidence. Along the way, we will keep you informed about what to expect.
Appealing your disability rating can help you get more, fair compensation. Hill & Ponton, P.A., is here to help with your appeal. Reach out today for a free case evaluation from our experienced legal team, and see how you can get the right help to appeal your ratings claim.
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