When I was first awarded VA disability compensation my rating was 30%. Multiple claims were denied at that time; although I did not agree with the denials, I did not file any appeals. My rating stayed at 30% for the next 18 years. When I finally decided to readdress my VA disability rating, I had no idea what to do or what facts needed to be considered. Currently I am 100%, but it was a long and winding road to get 100%; first I got to 40%, then 50%, then 70%, then 90%, and finally 100%. It took about 2.5 years from 30-100% and the VA fought me tooth and nail all the way. In my case, the stars aligned just right or it would have taken a lot longer to get my 100% rating. Knowing what I know now I have some advice for veterans. If you are asking yourself “how do I increase my VA disability rating,” listen up.
There are four ways to increase your rating; (1) increase a current rating, (2) readdress a denied disability, (3) claim a new disability, and (4) claim a secondary disability. You can file claims for all four at once depending on your situation. Thing to know:
- Increase a current disability;
- Filing for an increase can result in a decrease. You need to ensure your disability has increased per the rating schedule. Filing for an increase because you “feel” your condition has worsened is a bad idea. Facts justify ratings not feelings. Check the rating schedule before you file the increase claim.
- Ratings held for five years cannot be reduced per a single C&P exam. If you have a few years on your rating you should consider waiting to file the increase to avoid a possible decrease per a single C&P exam.
- Ratings held for 20 years cannot be decreased. When I readdressed my ratings, my back disability had been held for 18 years; hence, I decided to wait until I passed the 20-year mark to file. I did not want to risk a decrease.
- Consider using an outside the VA provider to complete the information required to rate your claim. This puts you in control of the information and provides you with an assessment of your condition.
- Readdress a denied disability: gather new and relevant and file a supplemental claim.
- Claim a new disability: screen your service medical records and gather supporting evidence.
- Claim a secondary disability: If you have disabilities caused by your service-connected conditions.