Many veterans have the goal of being awarded 100 percent disability rating due to the severity of their disabilities. Sometimes, a veteran may be incapacitated by his or her disability to a level that warrants a 100 percent disability rating, but, fortunately, may be able to recover enough to where the 100 percent rating no longer accurately reflects his or her current level of disability. In such case, the VA will award temporary 100 percent disability for the time period in which the veteran was totally incapacitated. There are three types of temporary 100 percent disability ratings that a veteran may be eligible for: pre-stabilization ratings; Convalescent ratings; and hospitalization ratings. We will discuss each of these in turn.
A 100 percent pre-stabilization rating may be assigned to a veteran who suffers from an unstabilized condition that was incurred in service if the unstabilized condition results in a severe disability that makes substantially gainful employment unfeasible (note: a 50 percent pre-stabilization rating may be assigned under certain circumstances as well). An example of an unstabilized condition would be residuals from a car accident or gunshot wound. The VA cannot assign a temporary 100 percent pre-stabilization rating where the veteran is immediately eligible for a 100 percent schedular rating or a 100 percent rating due to total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU). Pre-stabilization ratings are in effect for the 1-year period immediately after discharge, and the VA is not able to change a pre-stabilization rating if it would reduce benefits to the veteran during the 1-year period. However, the VA is able to change the veteran’s pre-stabilization rating to a 100 percent schedular rating or 100 percent TDIU rating if so warranted. It’s important to remember that the VA must conduct a C&P examination for the veteran’s un-stabilized condition between 6 and 12 months after the veteran is discharged, but even if the examination shows that the veteran’s disability warrants a lower rating, a reduction cannot occur until the end of the 1-year period.
A veteran may also be entitled to a temporary 100 percent rating for periods of hospitalization for treatment or observation which are greater than 21 days. Note, the hospital treatment or observation must be related to the veteran’s service-connected disability, but if the veteran is initially admitted to the hospital due to a non-service-connected disability and receives treatment for his or her service-connected disability for more than 21 days during the hospital stay, he or she is still eligible for a temporary 100 percent rating for the period he or she was receiving treatment for the service-connected disability. This temporary 100 percent rating is effective from the first day of continuous hospitalization and ends the last day of the month of discharge from the hospital.
The third type of temporary 100 percent rating is available where a medical report establishes that a veteran needs time to convalesce following hospital discharge or outpatient release. In VA law, the term “convalesce” means “the act of regaining or returning to a normal or healthy state after a surgical operation, or an injury.” There are three circumstances under which a 100 percent convalescent rating will be issued: the veteran has undergone surgery that requires at least 1-month convalescence; the veteran has undergone surgery that has resulted in severe postoperative residuals, or one of the veteran’s major joints immobilized by a cast. Such benefits are effective from the date of hospital admission or outpatient treatment and may continue for a period of 1 to 3 months from the first day of the month following hospital discharge or outpatient release. Veterans are able to obtain extensions of convalescing ratings for up to 3 months, or 6 months in certain circumstances, if postoperative residuals are particularly severe. It is important to remember that medical evidence is necessary to establish entitlement to a convalescent rating, specifically a note from the veteran’s doctor stating how long he or she requires to recover.