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VA Math: If the VA increased my disability rating, why didn’t my overall rating change?

Veterans who have multiple disabilities are often confused by how the VA obtains their overall disability rating. While it may seem that a condition with a 60% disability rating and a condition with a 50% rating would make you totally disabled, this is not the case. 

How VA Math Works

The VA recognizes that it’s impossible to be more than 100% disabled, regardless of how many disabilities you have. As such, combining a 60% disability and a 50% disability will not earn you a rating of 110%. Instead, your total rating would be 80%.

Here’s how the VA arrives at this number:

  1. They start from the 100% that represents a healthy individual.

  2. They subtract the number that represents your largest disability. For someone who is 60% disabled, 100 – 60 = 40.

  3. Your secondary condition is 50% disabling, starting from the 40% that represents the non-disabled portion of your body after your primary disability is taken into consideration. Subtracting 50% (20) from 40 gives you 20% of the body that is non-disabled.

  4. Subtracting the 20% of the body that is non-disabled from the 100% that represents a totally healthy person gives you 80% of the body that is disabled.

Keep in mind that the VA only awards disability ratings in 10% increments. If necessary, ratings are rounded to the nearest 10%.

This rounding makes it possible that an additional disability may not correspond to additional compensation.  For example, if the veteran with an 80% disability rating received an additional 20% rating for a third disability, he’d be considered 84% disabled—which would round down to 80% and result in no additional compensation. However, a veteran who is 80% disabled with three service-connected disabilities would likely be a strong candidate for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.

If you’re having trouble running the calculations on your own, the VA provides an online table you can use to quickly find your total disability rating if you have two or more service-connected conditions

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