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Demystifying the VA: What Is VA Math

What is VA Math?

One would think that 50 plus 50 would equal 100. But when it comes to VA math, it simply does not. It is a difficult thing for most people to wrap their brain around. But it’s not as much of a mystery as one may think. Check out how VA math works below.


what is VA math


How do you calculate VA ratings?

The bottom line is that you can’t be rated for more than 100% regardless of how many disabilities you may have. As a result, combining a disability rating of 70% with one of 30% does not equal 100%. It equals 80%. Here’s why:


you were 10 of 10 when you joined va math is confusing

Every vet starts out 100% able. Ratings work as follows:
  • Disability 1 is rated at 30%, the vets overall rating is 30%

  • Disability 2 is rated at 20%

That 20% is not taken from the original 100%, but rather from the remaining 70%. That looks like this:
70x20%=14
70-14=56 (this is the remaining able percent)
30+14=44 (this is the combined disability rating – 44%)
  • Disability 3 is rated at 10%

56x.10=5.6
56-5.6= 50.4 (the vets new able percentage)
44+5.6=49.6%
how does va math work

So close to 50%, but not quite there, right? Wrong. Because in addition to the complicated math, the VA rounds these percentages.


Does the VA round up?

To answer this question simply, yes. But the VA also rounds down. So, in the example above, the vets new combined rating would now be 50%, because any rating over the 5 mark rounds up, and any rating under it rounds down.


So, as in the case above, a combined rating of 41% to 44% will round down to 40%, and a combined rating of 46% to 49% will round up to 50%.


Why? Because the ratings must be divisible by 10, as this is the lowest rating aside from 0 for any ratable condition.


What is a bilateral factor?

To complicate things further, the VA also adds something called a bilateral factor. This comes into play when a vet has a disability on both sides of their body, but only if it is the same extremity. For example, ratings on both the right and left knee will give you a bilateral factor, but so will ratings on the right knee and left ankle or right elbow and left wrist.


How much is a bilateral factor?

The basic amount is 10%, however it isn’t just a straight 10%. It is 10% of the combined bilateral disabilities. For example, if a vet has a 10% rating for their left ankle and a 10% rating for their right ankle, those ratings would first be combined according to the math above, and then 10% of that would be counted as an additional rating and added the combined rating. That would look like this:


Every vet starts out 100% able
Right ankle is rated at 10%, the vets overall rating is 10%
Remaining amount able is 90%
Left ankle is rated at 10%
90x10%=9%
90-9=81 (this is the remaining able percent)
10+9=19
Add 10% of the combined disability rating to get the bilateral factor.
19x.10=1.9
Round 19 up to 20%, add the bilateral factor.

The total combined disability rating is now 21.9%, which rounds down to 20%.


Hopefully this is all beginning to make sense.



how does va math work

VA math calculator

Isn’t there an easier way to figure this out? Yes. You can simply use the VA calculator found on this page of their website. Just remember to enter the numbers in 10% increments, so round up or down accordingly.


It is also important to know that bilateral factors are not included in the VA’s disability rating calculator. This can skew the calculation when you are trying to figure out where your combined rating falls.


In addition, rates do change based on COLA. And this can be difficult to keep up with.



What is the easiest way to figure out my rating?

There is an even easier way to figure it all out. Simply reach out to us for help! Talk to one of our specialists today!


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