VA Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a benefit paid to a discharged service member for chronic disabilities or diseases that occurred as a result of one’s military service.

There are five ways to establish service connection for a disability or disease:

1)   Direct Service Connection – there is a direct link between the current disability and something that occurred during the period of military service.  Example:  A veteran suffers chronic injuries to his/her right leg, low back and right knee during combat operations.  The right leg, lower back, and right knee can be service connected.

2)   Aggravation – the current disability preexisted military service but   became worse during service or was aggravated beyond the normal means of progression.  Example:  The veteran was diagnosed with asthma at an early age.  The veteran was not suffering from this condition and had not had any asthma attacks since childhood.  During the veterans military service he/she was exposed to conditions which aggravated the asthma and the conditions became chronic.

3)   Presumptive Service Connection – the current disability is a condition that did not manifest itself during service but is presumed to have started or connected to something that happened during service by virtue of a statue or VA regulation.  Click for the link to information on Presumptive Service Connection

4)   Secondary Service Connection – the current disability is the result of a service connected disability.  Example:  veteran is receiving VA disability compensation as the result of a right knee injury.  As a result the veteran’s normal gait is adjusted and over the years his left knee and left hip wear out.  The left knee and left hip may be service connected secondary to the original right knee injury.

5)   Injury Cause by VA Health Care – The current condition is the result of an injury that is caused by VA Health Care, VA training and rehabilitation service, or by participation in a VA compensated work therapy program.

Disability Compensation Fact Sheet

This Department has three accredited staff members to assist you in applying for VA Disability Compensation.  Counselors will assist you in the preparation, completion, filing and monitoring of you claim for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Keep in mind that if you are currently service connected for a disability or disease and that condition has increased in severity it may be in your best interest to request an increase for your service connected disability.

If you are hospitalized for a period of more than 21 days for a service connected condition you are eligible for a total disability rating of 100%.

If you have surgery on a service connected disability that necessitates at least one month convalescence you are eligible for a total disability rating of 100% for the convalescence period. 

On original claims for compensation, VA will make a determination if your claimed condition is considered “service connected” and then rate that condition on a scale of 0% to 100%.  If you have more than one service connected rating a combined rating will be determined (not by adding the individual ratings).  The combined rating is then paid based on VA Rate Tables.  An additional monetary award is granted for those veterans who have dependents and are rated 30% or greater.

38 CFR Book C - Schedule for Rating Disabilities – is the guidelines that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs uses to grant the percentage of disability for each specific condition that is grant service connection.

VA Rate Tables – these are the “pay charts” that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs uses to determine how much a veteran is paid.  Note that if a veteran has more than one disability, these disabilities are combined using a formula (not added) to determine what is called a combined rating. 

 If your service connected disability rating is less than 100% and it prevents you from gainful employment you may be eligible for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU).  TDIU or IU for short will pay a veteran at the 100% rate even through their rating or combined rating is less than 100%.  Note that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs uses only disabilities that are rated service connected for consideration of the TDIU benefit.

There is no time limit for a veteran to file their disability compensation claim.  If a veteran files within one year of their discharge and is granted service connection for a disability the effective date of claim for that disability will be the day after their discharge.  If the claim is file more than a year after discharge then the effective date will be the date that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs receives that claim. 

It is in the veteran’s best interest to file their claim as soon as possible.  Talk to your counselor about filing an informal claim in order to establish the earliest effective date possible.  

 If you would like assistance in obtaining VA benefits as a result of a disability that occurred in service, request an increase for a current service connected injury, was hospitalized or had surgery on a current service connected disability or would like to apply for TDIU benefits please contact our office at (517) 887-4331 to schedule an appointment.