Unlocking the Power of Your 0% VA Disability Rating: What to Do Next
The recent VA announcement revealed that approximately 150,000 of the 450,000 PACT act claims granted received a 0% rating, and the majority of these claims were related to hypertension, a new presumptive condition for Agent Orange exposure. A staggering 82.1% of hypertension claims ended up with a 0% rating, and it was discovered that 27% of these cases were due to mistakes made by the VA’s Automated Benefits System. That’s right, computers are now involved in rating your VA claims, and when it comes to hypertension claims, they faltered in over a quarter of them.
So, if you find yourself in the 0% rating category and are wondering what to do next, keep reading. We’ll not only explore how to change a 0% rating but also delve into what it means and the valuable benefits it can offer.
Understanding the 0% Rating:
First things first, a 0% rating does not equate to your claim being denied. Instead, it signifies that the VA has recognized your disability as service-related but doesn’t believe the symptoms are severe enough to warrant a compensable rating. In simpler terms, the VA acknowledges your condition but doesn’t deem it serious enough to provide compensation.
While you won’t receive direct payments for a 0% rating, there are some significant benefits:
1. Free VA medical care for the disability rated at 0%.
2. Free prescriptions to treat the 0% rated disability.
3. A 10-point preference for federal hiring.
4. The ability to secondarily service-connect other conditions caused by the 0% disability. For instance, if your 0% rated hypertension leads to heart disease, kidney disease, or retinopathy, you can get ratings for each of those secondary conditions.
5. The option to request a reevaluation of the claim later on. So, if you’re 0% for hearing loss and your hearing deteriorates in the future, you can request a reevaluation, potentially resulting in a higher rating.
While these benefits are undoubtedly valuable, it’s understandable why you might want to change your rating, especially if it’s incorrect. You can challenge a 0% rating within one year of the decision by appealing through the VA’s appeal system, where different tracks are available.
Understanding VA Rating Criteria:
To determine if the VA incorrectly assigned your 0% rating, you need to understand how the VA rates your specific condition. The VA rates disabilities based on diagnostic codes, which outline the criteria for determining your specific disability rating. For example, let’s take a closer look at the diagnostic code for hypertension:
7101 Hypertensive vascular disease (hypertension and isolated systolic hypertension):
– Diastolic pressure predominantly 130 or more: 60%
– Diastolic pressure predominantly 120 or more: 40%
– Diastolic pressure predominantly 110 or more, or systolic pressure predominantly 200 or more: 20%
– Diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more, or systolic pressure predominantly 160 or more, or minimum evaluation for an individual with a history of diastolic pressure predominantly 100 or more who requires continuous medication for control: 10%
To achieve a 10% rating for hypertension, you must meet the criteria outlined in the diagnostic code.
How to Find Your Diagnostic Code:
To discover the criteria for your disability, check your Rating Decision. While this information is sometimes listed, it’s not always accurate or complete. An alternative way is to refer to the VA code sheet, which contains valuable information, including the diagnostic code used to rate your condition.
For those who want a more in-depth explanation of how the VA rates disabilities, please let me know in the comments. Additionally, you can find comprehensive diagnostic codes broken down by body systems in this link: [Link to Diagnostic Codes](https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/38/part-4/subpart-B).
A 0% rating doesn’t mean the end of the road for your VA disability claim. In fact, it comes with various benefits and the possibility of being reevaluated in the future. By understanding the VA’s rating criteria and knowing how to find your diagnostic code, you can navigate the process more effectively. Don’t hesitate to challenge a 0% rating if you believe it’s incorrect, as you have the right to ensure your service-connected disability is properly recognized.