How Does VA Determine My Overall Percentage?

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

VA does not add the percentages for each of your service-connected disabilities. So, if you have 30% for your back, and 10% for your sinuses, and 10% for PTSD, the total benefit is not 50%. Instead, it is 30%, plus 10% of the remaining 70% of your body, which is 7; and then 10% of the remaining 63% of your body, which is 6.3 (counted as 6 rounded down). So the overall percentage is 30 + 7 + 6, which is 43, which rounds down to 40.

This is why it is so difficult to have a combination of impairments that equal an overall of 100%. As your overall percentage goes up, you will usually need a benefit at a high percentage to reach 100%.

So, we often advise clients that, rather than try to get the overall percentage to 100%, they should try to get a benefit amount equal to 100%, even though their overall percentage is less than 100%. How can this be done? It can be done by proving Individual Unemployability, or in VA talk, “IU.”

IU means that you can’t perform a substantially gainful occupation due to your service-connected conditions. While the rating percentages themselves just consider medical considerations, IU also considers your education and work history. For example, if you have a high school education and have performed jobs on your feet your whole life, you are more likely to receive IU.

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