The VASRD (Veterans Affairs Schedule for
Rating Disabilities) is a law (actually, a regulation, but it's as powerful as a law, so we call it that to keep things simple) passed by Congress that regulates how various
conditions of different severities are assigned Military Disability Ratings. It is massive and quite
confusing. Since both lawyers and doctors helped put the VASRD together, it has
some definite flaws, and doesn’t always live up to its goal. Plus, lawyers and
doctors speak two totally different languages, and combining them makes it seem
almost impossible to translate—believe me, we spent a long time translating for
this site, and thinking about it makes me feel like this guy.
The first key to understanding how the
VASRD was made is to understand its purpose. The goal of the VASRD is to give a fair rating for every condition that reflects the seriousness of the disability.
Not having a foot is a much worse disability than just having limited motion in
the ankle. Thus, the rating for the limited motion will be much less than for
the loss of the foot. The worse your condition, the higher your rating should
The main question the lawyers and doctors
focused on, and that the Rating Authorities are supposed to focus on when applying the laws of the
VASRD, is “How does the condition affect the overall functioning of the
veteran?” Does the condition make it so the veteran cannot work at all? That
would be a serious disability and deserves a fairly high rating. Does the
condition make the veteran unable to perform even the smallest every day tasks
like dressing and eating? That would be an even worse disability and deserves an
even higher rating. If the veteran is basically able to care for himself and be
employed, then the rating should be much lower since the disability isn’t as severe.
So, when these lawyers and doctors got
together to make the VASRD, they had a seriously big job. They had to create
laws that would cover every severity of every type of disability. There are
thousands of ways the human body can misfunction, so while we
like to complain about the problems with the VASRD, due credit must be given.
Overall, it does a pretty darn good job. It’s impossible to rate every single
condition, so in addition to the specific ratings, the VASRD has a bunch of VASRD Principles that are
designed to help adjust the VASRD for special circumstances.
As for the ratings themselves, they are
meant to reflect the seriousness of the condition. Here are all the possible
ratings: 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100%. Each rating
entitles the veteran to different Military Disability Benefits for both VA Disability and DoD Disability. 0%
means that the veteran isn’t really disabled by the condition at all, and thus will receive the fewest benefits. 100%
means that the veteran is completely disabled and unable to hold a job or function productively, and thus deserves the most benefits.
That being said, there are a couple of
areas in the VASRD where these guidelines aren’t optimally followed. The most obvious example of this, and the one that makes me most question what the heck they were thinking, are the rating requirements for hearing loss and vision loss. In the VASRD, vision loss is rated on CORRECTED vision, so how well you see WITH glasses or contacts. Hearing loss, however, is not
rated on corrected hearing. It is rated on how well you hear WITHOUT a hearing aid. How
can this possibly be fair? Either both should be rated on corrected, or both on uncorrected. Either the vision loss people are getting screwed or the hearing
loss people are being spoiled.
You might notice as you find your conditions
on this site that there are many times where every rating is not available for
a certain condition. For example, the majority of mental disorders can be rated
0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, etc. They do not have 20%, 40%, 60%, etc. ratings. This
happens because there have to be very clearly separated requirements for each
rating, and some conditions don’t have enough different levels to make using
each rating logical. They simply looked at all the different severities and
decided which rating most closely reflected the disability.
Overall, the VASRD does a good job. It does
have its faults, but the majority of conditions are given pretty fair ratings. Before
finding your conditions, make sure you read the VASRD Principles page so that you know how to
apply the ratings to your particular case.