What does it mean to be 100% disabled? Well, it can mean a whole lot of different things. The VA rates individuals’ disabilities within a wide array of categories — respiratory system, skin, mental health and even dental condition — basically, every part of the body. Within those categories, individuals are given a rating of disability.
For example: if a veteran has a hard time keeping a job and maintaining relationships from a combat-related mental health disorder, and maybe also has panic attacks more than once a week and trouble speaking, they’ll probably be rated as 50% disabled. If they’re having constant hallucinations or unable to remember the names of the people close to them, they’ll be rated as 100% disabled. On the other hand, if they experience something like an increased tendency to get stressed, something that can often be managed with medication, they’ll be rated as 10% disabled.
Veterans’ ratings across different categories add up, but not arithmetically. The VA uses a combined rating table to determine disability. So, for instance, if a veteran had a chronic ringing in their ears from loud noises in combat — that’s tinnitus, the most common disability among veterans — and failure of their heart’s left ventricle, they’d be counted as 64% disabled. That’s where 10% (tinnitus) and 60% (left ventricle failure) meet on the chart.
It’s also worth remembering that this bill only applies to disabilities that veterans acquire during combat. If the veteran got tinnitus from, say, working on a loud construction site or at an airport, they wouldn’t be able to apply that to their VA compensation.
Summary by James Helmsworth
(Photo Credit: Flickr user MTAPhotos)