My service-connected ratings add up to be over 100% but I am getting paid less than 100%, did the VA make a mistake?

Believe it or not, the VA probably has not made a mistake in determining your combined rating.  When you have more than one rated service-connected disability, the VA does not simply add each disability rating in order to reach a total.  Instead, the VA combines the ratings using a Combined Ratings Table to calculate the total percentage.  For instance, a veteran may have a 20% disability rating for arthritis, and a 30% disability rating for asthma.  However, this does not mean that the veteran’s overall disability rating is 50%.  Using the Combined Ratings Table here, the VA makes a calculation by considering each disability in order of severity, beginning with the highest evaluation.  In this example, the veteran would receive a 40% combined rating.

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What is the difference between a 100% rating and Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability?

The VA assigns disability evaluations from 0% to 100% in 10% increments.  Your disability rating depends on the severity of your service-connected condition.  For each degree of disability, the VA has a description of the symptoms a veteran must have in order to qualify for that rating.  For example, in order to receive a 50% rating for migraines, you must experience “completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.”  When a Veteran receives a 100% rating, it means that a veteran is totally disabled due to that service-connected condition.

Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU or IU) is when a Veteran’s disability compensation is paid at the 100% rate even though the Veteran’s service-connected condition is less than total or 100%.

How do I qualify for Individual Unemployability?

  1. Your service-connected disabilities must prevent you from being able to get a job and keep the job.


  1. You must have one service-connected disability rated at least 60%; OR

You have multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined total rating of at least 70%; AND at least one of those service-connected disabilities is rated 40% or higher.

For example, if you are service-connected at 60% for coronary artery disease due to Agent Orange exposure and as a result of a severe heart attack due to your coronary artery disease, you are unable to continue working; you would meet the qualifications for IU.

The above is just a guideline; the VA rules contain many nuances and expectations to receiving a 100% rating or IU.  For example, did you know that there are instances where you can work and still receive Individual Unemployability?  Also, there are instances where several disabilities are considered one disability for the purposes of calculating one 60% disability and one 40% disability.

Can the VA reduce my 100% total rating or my IU?

To reduce your total rating, the VA has the burden to show that your service-connected condition has undergone “material improvement” under the ordinary conditions of life.  To reduce a 100% rating based on IU, the VA must demonstrate actual employability.  If the VA is attempting to reduce your rating, you are entitled to certain due process rights.

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