Here's how your VA disability rating works

The Morning Briefing
May 09, 2018 - 12:19 pm
Disability Ratings

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Are you getting all the VA benefits you’ve earned?  You’ve had a favorable decision from VA regarding your disability and you probably know you get money but do you know about the other benefits that come with your disability rating?

Each step up adds a new level of benefits.  Some will automatically kick in, others you need to apply to receive them.

Non-compensable 0 percent disability rating.  This means that you have a service-connected condition, but it doesn’t affect your ability to function.  You won’t get financial compensation for this rating, but there are a few special benefits waiting for you out there. 

  • 10 point veteran preference in federal hiring. This is for permanent and temporary positions but does not apply to positions in the Senior Executive Service (SESers) or to positions that require Senate confirmation. The points are added to the passing test score. This can be applied to state government jobs as well. It’s not always necessary, but it is helpful if you have a copy of your VA disability letter when applying for any state or federal job.
  • No-cost healthcare and prescription drugs for service-connected disabilities (if income limits are met). The key here is there is no charge for your SCD treatment.  Things to know:
  • Vets with 0 – 40 percent SCD may take a copay test to determine copay status for prescriptions.
  • If you live in a high-cost area, you might qualify for a reduced inpatient copay rate
  • Check out the Health Benefits Explorer to find out what copays you may have.
  • Travel allowance for scheduled appointments for the service-connected disability treatment only.  Application is here. You have 30 days from the date of the appointment to request this pay.

Compensable 0 percent disability rating.

  • Same benefits as above, plus
  • Waiver of VA funding fee for VA home loan. Typically this is a percentage of the loan amount and will vary depending on the type of loan and your military category. Here’s the most recent funding fee chart. Surviving spouses of vets who died in service or from an SCD will not have to pay this fee no matter what the SCD rating was.
  • Burial and plot allowance. VA will pay up to $2k for service related deaths. If the veterans are buried in a VA national cemetery, some or possibly all of the transportation costs may be reimbursed. For non-service related deaths: VA pays up to $762 (if the veteran was in a VA hospital at the time of death) or $300 if not hospitalized by VA at the time of death. Application is here. Pre-needs determination is intended to simplify and assist the veteran’s next-of-kin at the time of death.  This does not reserve a plot or niche at the cemetery.  

10 percent service connected disability (SCD).

20 percent SCD

  • Same benefits as above

30 - 40 percent SCD

  • Same benefits as above, plus
  • 10 point veteran preference with Direct Hire Authority. This is slightly misleading, but the key here is the direct hire authority. This works when there’s a critical hiring need or a shortage of candidates. Technically you don’t need the 10 extra points because there probably aren’t too many other candidates applying for the job.
  • Additional compensation for eligible dependents (may include aid and attendance for eligible spouse).  If you don’t have your dependents listed, once you hit 30 percent SCD, it’s the first thing you should do - back pay goes to the date you started the dependency claim. Use this form to add spouse and/or children. (For children over 18 but still in school, you’ll need this form as well.) This is the form to add parents as dependents.

50 percent SCD

  • Same benefits as above, plus
  • No cost health care and prescription medications this is exactly as it sounds.  Up to this SCD the no cost only applied to service-connected disabilities. From this point on there is no cost for all medical services
  • Concurrent receipt of military retired pay. This means you will receive both your military retirement pay and your VA compensation. You don’t need to apply for this benefit if you qualify you’ll automatically be enrolled.

60 – 90 percent SCD

100 percent SCD

  • Same benefits as above, plus
  • No cost dental care. Is it possible for teeth to do a happy dance?  If so, they'll do it once you hit 100 percent. Your mouth is covered!
  • Uniformed Services ID card. This will allow you access to military service benefits and privileges.

100 percent SCD w/ an additional separate 60 percent SCD

  • Statutory Housebound.  This is a very complex topic. Get assistance from a Veteran Service Organization or legal help when looking into this benefit. You may end up in a battle royal with VA over this, but the monthly monetary allowance is worth the extra struggle