VA Disability Rates – Overview
VA compensation rates are set to increase due to nationwide inflation. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics, the CPI-U (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers) rose by 0.1 % in August 2022. It had remained static in July, and the BLS expects all items index to increase by 8.3% prior to seasonal adjustment.
The eventual VA disability COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment) is set to be decided according to the mean CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners) in Q3-2022.
Cost-of-Living-Adjustment, or COLA, is the difference in the amount of compensation paid according to your disability rating. This is normally based on changes in the national cost-of-living rate, which is caused by inflation.
The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the next COLA in October 2022.
Does an Increase in Cola Affect VA Disability Benefits?
No, a change in COLA does not increase your disability rating but simply alters the monthly payment for the particular disability rating.
The BLS calculates the monthly CPI-W, which is sent to the SSA. The SSA uses the data from Q3 of the previous financial year and the current year’s Q3 to decide the COLA for the next year. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will modify veterans’ monthly compensation to match the updated cost of living.
Will VA Disability Compensation Rates Increase in 2023?
Based on recent projections, the VA will likely set the COLA for 2023 at around 9.34% to 11.4%. According to financial experts, this is a significant modification to balance the overall national inflation rate. The COLA in 2020 was 1.6%. In 2021 it fell slightly to 1.3% before rising to 5.9%.
Here are the updated pay rates of VA disability monthly compensation for 2023:
|Combined VA Rating||Estimated 2023 VA Disability Rates @9.63% increase|
VA disability compensation is tax-free but if you have any additional sources of income, then these are taxable income. Consult with your tax advisor or accountant to determine precise VA benefits according to the updated COLA.
How is VA Disability Compensation Determined?
A rating schedule is used to determine VA disability compensation. Your disability needs to meet certain medical criteria. The specific rating is decided on the diagnostic code related to your disability.
The rating schedule is set according to the VA’s assessment of how your condition is expected to affect your ability to work and earn a meaningful income.
Simply put, the VA disability rating is based on a functional evaluation of how your disability prevents you from working. In some instances, the VA will assign a 0% rating if you suffer from a service-related condition that is asymptomatic and does not have noticeable functional restrictions.
In a few cases, you may even qualify for a “non-scheduler” rating if your condition does not fit the scheduler rating. For instance, as per the schedule, you may have a skin condition that only affects 5% of your body and may get you a 10% disability rating.
On the other hand, if 10% is limited to your hands and affects the use of your hands, the VA would assign an extra-scheduler rating that considers your inability to use your hands to work.
Can You Increase VA Disability Ratings?
VA disability ratings tend to increase if your condition worsens with time. In such cases, you will need to provide medical evidence to support the claim for increasing your VA disability rating. The date you claim will decide the effective rate for an increase in VA disability rating.
Be prompt to apply for an increase in disability rating as soon as your condition worsens.
If your application for an increased VA disability rating is denied, you should seek legal counseling to decide if an appeal is worthwhile. In these circumstances, your lawyer can help you with a medical opinion from a non-VA doctor as evidence for your claim.
It is important to determine if any of your medical conditions are service-related. If your condition was pre-existing at the time of entry into the service, determine if the condition got worse because of the service.
In case your condition went undiagnosed during your service, then determine if you showed symptoms of the condition while in service or at least within a year of being discharged. Ask yourself if the condition has gotten worse because of, or made worse due to, an existing service-related condition.
You can easily apply for e-Benefits on the VA website – www.va.gov – or by visiting any VA Regional Office, or even through a veterans’ service organization, such as VFW, AmVets, American Legion, etc.).
Besides this, you can hire a qualified attorney licensed to practice before the VA to apply for VA disability benefits.
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