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Understanding The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator For Disability Claims

Last updated: November 27, 2023

Using VA Bilateral Factor Calculator ensures fair compensation for veterans with bilateral conditions.

A disability rating is calculated based on the severity of a disability related to military service in order for compensation and other VA benefits to be determined.

Dependents of veterans, including children and spouses, have access to a variety of benefits such as health care, education assistance, and life insurance.

As of 2023, there are over 1 million outstanding VA disability claims, highlighting the importance of understanding the VA claims process.[1]

Veterans filing disability claims can expect a response time ranging from 126 to 233 days, depending on the case's complexity.

The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator utilizes a distinct formula. This tool considers the disability ratings assigned to each impacted limb or corresponding skeletal muscle and then computes a collective rating based on these individual assessments.[2]

The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator is an essential tool for veterans filing disability claims. It's designed to ensure that veterans receive fair and accurate compensation for their bilateral disabilities. With a record-breaking number of claims being processed each year, understanding how this calculator works, service-connected disability ratings, and the benefits available for dependents can significantly impact the success of a disability claim. 

This guide is designed to unravel the complexities of the VA system, offering clear insights and practical advice to ensure veterans receive the compensation and support they deserve.

What Is The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator?

More than 1 million VA disability claims are still pending as of 2023, showing how crucial it is to understand the claims process.[1] The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator is a method used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to evaluate disability claims involving bilateral conditions. A bilateral condition refers to disabilities that affect both arms, both legs, or paired skeletal muscles. The VA recognizes that bilateral disabilities can have a greater impact on a person's overall health and functionality compared to a single disability. Therefore, the calculator is used to assess the combined effects of bilateral disabilities accurately.

How Does It Work?

The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator operates on a unique formula. It takes the individual disability ratings of each affected limb or paired skeletal muscle and calculates a combined rating.[2] Here's a simplified breakdown of the process:

  1. Determine Individual Ratings: The first step is to assign a disability rating to each of the bilateral conditions. These ratings are based on the VA's Schedule for Rating Disabilities.
  2. Calculate Combined Ratings: The individual ratings are then combined. The VA uses a specific table, known as the Combined Ratings Table, to find the combined rating. This table ensures that multiple disabilities are not merely added together, which could lead to inaccuracies.
  3. Apply The Bilateral Factor: If a veteran has bilateral disabilities, a bilateral factor is applied. This involves adding an additional 10% to the combined rating of the two disabilities. For instance, if the combined rating is 50%, with the bilateral factor, it would be effectively 55%.
  4. Final Disability Rating: The final step is to round this rating to the nearest 10%. This final rating determines the compensation level for the veteran.

This process underscores the complexities of the VA disability system and highlights the need for accurate calculations to ensure fair compensation.

Fast Facts

In the VA's official list, 834 conditions are listed by body system and diagnostic code to qualify for disability compensation​​.

Service-Connected Disability Ratings

Service-connected disability ratings are determined based on injuries or illnesses incurred or aggravated by active-duty military service. Each disability is assigned a rating based on its severity, influencing the level of compensation and eligibility for other VA benefits​​​​. When multiple disabilities are present, a combined VA disability rating is calculated, which is more complex than simply summing individual ratings​​​​.

Definitions Of Eligible Disabilities

Eligibility for VA disability compensation requires certain criteria: an honorable discharge, a medical diagnosis of a disability condition, a nexus for service connection, and current symptoms negatively affecting work, life, and/or social functioning​​. The VA's official list includes 834 conditions, categorized by body system and diagnostic code​​. These conditions range across various physical and mental health domains, emphasizing the broad scope of health issues considered by the VA.

Calculation Of Individual Ratings

Individual disability ratings are expressed as percentages, representing the extent to which a disability reduces overall health and functionality​​. The VA determines these ratings based on evidence provided by the claimant, results from VA claim exams, and information from other sources like federal agencies​​. This individual rating process is crucial as it lays the foundation for the more complex calculations involved when multiple disabilities are present.

Bilateral Conditions And Combined Ratings

Bilateral conditions involve disabilities in symmetrical body parts, like both arms or both legs. The VA employs the "whole person theory" to ensure that the total disability rating does not exceed 100%, reflecting the concept that a person cannot be more than 100% able-bodied​​. 

When calculating combined ratings for bilateral conditions, the VA applies an additional 10% to the combined rating of the bilateral disabilities and then adds this number to the combined rating. For instance, a veteran with bilateral conditions rated at 60% would receive an additional 6% for the bilateral factor, making the total 66%, which is then rounded up to the nearest 10%​​.

For veterans with both bilateral and non-bilateral service-connected conditions, the calculation becomes more intricate. The bilateral factor is first calculated based on the combined rating of only the bilateral conditions. This adjusted bilateral rating is then combined with the ratings of non-bilateral conditions to determine the final combined rating. This process ensures that veterans with more complex disability profiles receive accurate and fair compensation​​.

Dependents And Other Benefits

The VA provides a range of benefits for the dependents of veterans and service members, including children, spouses, and in some cases, parents. These benefits are designed to offer support in areas like health care, education, and home loans, among others.

Dependent Children

Dependent children of veterans or service members may qualify for various benefits, including health care through the CHAMPVA program, education assistance through programs like Chapter 35 or the Fry Scholarship, and life insurance options​.

Dependent Parents And Additional Benefits

Dependent parents, particularly of service members who died in the line of duty or veterans who passed away from service-related injuries or illnesses, can receive support. This includes benefits like the Survivors Pension, and compensation for surviving spouses and dependents (DIC), which offers a tax-free monetary benefit​.

Marital Status And Additional Disabilities

The marital status of a veteran or service member can impact the types of benefits their dependents are eligible for. Spouses and surviving spouses have access to a range of benefits, including health care, education and training support, home loan programs, life insurance options, and burial benefits.

Military Service And Monthly Payments

The VA also provides monthly pension benefits to surviving spouses or children of veterans with wartime service. This is part of the Survivors Pension program, aimed at offering financial support to families of veterans who served their country​​.

Additionally, the VA offers various support and services for caregivers of veterans, acknowledging the critical role they play in the well-being of veterans. This includes the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which provides support and resources for family caregivers of eligible veterans​​.[2]

Fast Facts

The VA's method for calculating combined disability ratings for bilateral conditions involves adding an extra 10% to the combined rating of the bilateral disabilities, reflecting the greater impact on the veteran's health.

Using The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator

Accurate use of the VA Bilateral Factor Calculator is essential, given the high volume of disability claims processed by the VA.

Accessing The Calculator Online Or Through A Mobile App

Veterans seeking to calculate their disability rating, including accounting for bilateral conditions, can access online resources for this purpose. While the VA itself does not provide a specific "Bilateral VA Disability Rating & Compensation Calculator" as a standalone tool, there are online resources that refer to the VA's official documents and rating tables. These include the Combined Ratings Table and guidelines for applying the Bilateral Factor, as stipulated by the VA​​.

Calculating Percentage Of Disability Rating For Each Condition

When determining the disability rating for individual conditions, the VA assigns ratings based on the severity of each service-connected condition. These ratings are expressed as percentages, reflecting how much the disability decreases overall health and functionality. The VA uses various factors to decide these ratings, including medical evidence, results from VA claim exams, and additional information from federal agencies. Each service-connected disability is rated from 0% to 100%, in increments of 10%​​.

Calculating Partial Disability Percentage

The process of calculating a combined VA disability rating, especially when involving multiple disabilities, follows a specific method. This approach, often referred to as "VA Math," doesn't simply add up the percentages of each condition. Instead, it begins with the highest individual rating and sequentially integrates the others. 

For example, if a veteran is rated 70% for one disability and 50% for another, the calculation doesn't simply add these to equal 120%. Rather, the VA considers what percentage of the veteran is still "able-bodied" after accounting for the highest rating and then applies the next highest rating to that remaining percentage. This process ensures that the total rating doesn’t exceed 100%, aligning with the "whole person theory"​​.

This methodology can be somewhat complex, and many veterans use online calculators or seek assistance from VA representatives to accurately determine their combined disability rating. These calculators and assistance services take into account various factors, including the bilateral factor, the severity of each disability, and the impact on the veteran's life and work.

Frequently Asked Questions

We've answered some of the most common questions about VA Bilateral Factor Calculator to help you better understand this.

What is the VA Bilateral Factor Calculator?

The VA Bilateral Factor Calculator is a tool used to accurately determine disability ratings for veterans with bilateral conditions, ensuring fair compensation.

How does the VA calculate service-connected disability ratings?

Service-connected disability ratings are calculated based on the severity of disabilities related to military service. The VA uses these ratings to determine compensation and eligibility for other benefits.

What benefits are available for dependents of veterans?

Dependents, including children and spouses, may be eligible for health care, education assistance, life insurance, and more, depending on the veteran's service and disability status.

Can I access the VA Bilateral Factor Calculator online?

While the VA itself does not offer a standalone Bilateral Factor Calculator online, there are resources and references available that follow VA guidelines for calculating disability ratings.

What is the current state of VA disability claims?

As of September 2023, the VA has over 1 million outstanding disability claims in its inventory, with a significant number being supplemental claims.

How long does it take to receive a response for a VA disability claim?

As per recent statistics, the response time for VA disability claims can range from 126 to 233 days, depending on the complexity and type of claim.

Using The VA Disability Factor Calculator

The VA disability claims process, encompassing the use of the Bilateral Factor Calculator, understanding of service-connected disability ratings, and awareness of dependent benefits, is a critical pathway for veterans seeking rightful compensation and support. With an increasing number of claims each year, it's more important than ever for veterans and their families to be well-informed and prepared. This guide serves as a resource to navigate these complexities, aiming to simplify and clarify the process, ensuring that our veterans receive the recognition and assistance they have earned through their service.

Our detailed guide explains the VA disability benefits for migraines. Learn more by visiting Disability Help and exploring our comprehensive resources on disability benefits.

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Chloe Powers
Chloe works with policymakers on behalf of Disability Help to support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organizations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.
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