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I cover much of this on the VA Disability page in this section. However, I want to expand on a few things.
First, as discussed on the other pages, VA math appears really weird - even arbitrary. As example, you receive 2 awards of 30% and the decision letter says 50%. The typical response is "what the hell"!
This is actually correct. When you are awarded more than one Disability claim, the VA lists the largest first, and then the next award is a percentage of the first one, as in 30%, then 70% of the next 30%, or 21%, which gives you a total award of 51%, and they round down to 50%.
Sounds fair, but the next award is 50% of whatever is awarded...and on and on it goes. Personally, I have been awarded 210%, which by the time they finished I had 94% - which rounded down to 90%. Using VA math, all I needed was another 10% - and I found it. That gave me 1% and that put me at 95%, which rounds up to 100% - or my monthly benefit went up 50%, plus lots of other goodies.
Confused? So is everyone else. I sort of understand, but not really. Think of it this way. You are receiving no Disability awards. You develop tinnitus, which is always 10%. This is your first award, so you get 10%. Another Veteran has 90% from multiple awards, develops tinnitus, gets 10% and VA math gives him/her 1%. Why is the first tinnitus worse than the second one?
You now see why going from 90% to 100% is extremely difficult - but not impossible. Always keep in mind that if you apply for an increase or something in addition to what you are already receiving, the VA can and will confirm your current condition. Let's say you are discharged and 10 years later you have put on 100 pounds and devlop diabetes. That often is a presumptive with a rating from 10% to 100%. Your spouse gets you to go on a diet and you lose the 100 pounds and are no longer diabetic. You get tennitus and apply for that award. The VA will disallow the diabetis award. Period. Just think clearly before you do anything.
Applying for the first award is easy. You either win or lose, and if you lose you are out nothing. Once you have an award, think lots and lots of stress. As example, I applied for a number of new things after having been awarded 50%. Due to a misdiagnosis for one of my first awards and the other one was secondary to the first one, I was immediately dropped to 0% compensation and lost most of the medical benefits I was receiving. However, the new awards bumped me up to 90%. I appealed one denial and that was overturned and I was given 30%...which put me at...90%. That's correct. My appeal was serious enough to get a 30% award, but it had zero effect on my monthly compensation. You have to love the VA. But as you know from reading this, I found another 10%, which put me at 100%.
If I have conveyed nothing else, get a VSO.
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