My colleagues recently wrote about the basics of VA rating decisions, and about the VA’s “special math” for calculating disability compensation. Both of these blog posts are great sources to get a basic understanding of what a VA rating decision consists of, and a basic understanding of how the VA calculates the percentage amount which determines the veteran’s compensation. But, beyond the actual rating decision itself is a hidden treasure, the Rating Code Sheet.
So, what is the Rating Code Sheet? The simplest answer is that the Rating Code Sheet is the roadmap to understanding your VA claim and payment history. Every time the VA issues a rating decision, there will always be an accompanying Rating Code Sheet. The Rating Code Sheet contains several pieces of important information. For example:
- The name of the veteran’s attorney or representative on file with the VA, if any (i.e. the Power of Attorney/POA)
- The VA File Number
- The dates of military service on file with the VA (including character of discharge)
- The dates the VA believes the current claims were filed
- A list with the exact names of every medical condition for which the veteran is service-connected
- A list of the current ratings for each service-connected condition, along with the effective dates for each rating
- A list of the past ratings for each service-connected condition, along with accompanying effective dates for each of the past ratings
- If the veteran is receiving non-service connected pension, all of the conditions that are considered disabling for pension purposes will be listed, along with accompanying ratings as assigned by the VA to reflect the severity of each condition
- A statement as to the veteran’s current and past combined/overall rating percentages per the VA’s “special math” (including the bilateral factor and special monthly compensation, if applicable)
- A list of the medical diagnostic codes that were used to rate any service-connected disabilities; and
- A list of prior claims that have been filed at some point in the past, but denied
Considering the wealth of information that is contained in the Rating Code Sheet, one would think the VA would automatically send this document to all veterans when the actual rating decisions are mailed. However, for some reason, this just doesn’t seem to happen. In my experience, veterans will get the notification letter from the VA and they’ll get the rating decision; however, they very rarely ever get the Rating Code Sheet.
Because the Rating Code Sheet is so important, it is essential to request this from the VA right away if it was not provided to you with the rating decision. Once you get the Rating Code Sheet, study it, review it, and treat it as a gem. At the very least, it will help you to have a better understanding of what is going on with your claims, and hopefully help to somewhat demystify the VA ratings and compensation process.