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VA disability pay rates in 2023 range between $165.92 to $4,295.92 a month. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) publishes the rates annually. The severity of the disability and family circumstances can affect the rate. A claim takes 104.1 days on average to complete.
The veterans disability compensation programs gives qualifying veterans a tax-free monthly payment to help them financially. The program supports veterans who were disabled or had a condition that was made worse during military service.
Here’s how veterans disability payments are calculated, how to determine how much you might receive in benefits and how to apply for VA disability.
How are VA disability compensation rates calculated?
The VA calculates a veteran’s disability payment by considering three factors:
The severity of the veteran’s disability.
The number and types of dependents the veteran has.
Whether a family member qualifies for Aid and Attendance benefits.
VA disability payments start with a base rate, which rises with the severity of the disability and the types of dependents. The VA then adds extra money to the base rate if the person's spouse qualifies for Aid and Attendance benefits, or if the veteran has multiple dependent children.
Severity of the disability
The VA assigns a disability rating to a veteran after reviewing evidence submitted as part of the benefits application or from military records. The VA requires applicants who don’t have enough medical evidence to support their claims to have a compensation and pension exam — sometimes referred to as a C&P. This exam confirms that a disability is related to military service.
Disability ratings are assigned as percentages. Specifically, disability ratings rise in 10% increments up to 100% (fully disabled). The percentage represents how much the disability decreases the veteran’s overall health and ability to function.
Veterans who have more than one qualifying disability get a combined disability rating. This rating is not as simple as adding the disability percentages together. For example if a veteran has one disability rated at 50% and a second disability rated at 30%, the combined rating is not 80%. The VA determines a combined disability rating, which it then uses to calculate the monthly payment.
Number and types of dependents
The VA adjusts disability rates for veterans who are financially responsible for a spouse, children or parents in any combination. The VA requires proof of their financial dependency.
A spouse is anyone you have legally married, including someone of the same sex as you. The VA recognizes common-law marriages as well.
To claim a child as a dependent for VA disability, the child can be biological, adopted or a step-child. Dependent children must be one of the following:
Under 18 years old.
18 to 23 years old but unmarried and enrolled full-time as a student.
Deemed permanently disabled before turning 18.
You can add a parent to your VA benefits if they are financially dependent on you and their net worth and income are below the legal limit for claiming them as a dependent.
Aid and attendance status
Certain family members of qualifying veterans are eligible for Aid and Attendance if they:
Require assistance to perform daily care activities such as bathing, preparing food and taking medication.
Live in a nursing home because of physical or mental incapacity.
Have 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes with glasses or contacts.
Have a concentric contraction of vision to 5 degrees or less.
Aid and Attendance is available for the:
Spouse of a living veteran.
Surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.
Permanently disabled children over age 18 who became disabled before turning 18.
Surviving parents that already receive Parent's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
If a veteran's family member qualifies, the VA tacks on an additional amount to their monthly payment.
2023 Veterans Disability Rates
Veteran disability rates are paid monthly. Because they follow the cost-of-living allowances Social Security applies to its benefits, every time Social Security benefits are recalculated to account for inflation, veteran disability rates change as well. This means that veteran disability pay rates can differ from year to year.
There are two categories of veteran disability pay rates: those for unmarried veterans and those for married veterans. Within each category, the combinations of disability rating and different types and number of dependents determine a veteran’s monthly payment. Because married veterans receive higher rates than unmarried veterans, it is important to double-check that you are looking at the correct table when looking up your rate.
Veterans with spouses who qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, and veterans with more than one dependent child get additional funds each month.
Examples of calculating monthly VA disability payments
Some monthly payment calculations will be more complicated than others, especially those where a veteran has several dependents. The three example scenarios below are calculated using the amounts in the tables above.
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How to apply for VA disability compensation
If you believe you are eligible for veteran’s disability pay, you’ll need to file a claim for Veterans Affairs to review. Here are the steps to apply.
Decide on an application method. You can submit your application online, by mail, in person at a VA office or with the help of an accredited representative. If you are submitting your claim by mail, you’ll need to download VA Form 21-526EZ and fill it out. Regardless of which method you use, you’ll need to submit supporting documentation. If you need help filing the application and supporting evidence, you can call your regional VA office to ask for assistance.
Gather documentation to support your application. This can include medical records from VA or private doctors and hospitals, as well as statements from people who are familiar with your disability. You do not have to submit your supporting documentation with your claim; however, the VA says that sending in all of your documents together with your application can help them work through the process more quickly.
Submit documentation. Once you have all of your documentation together, submit it with your application to complete your claim. If you filed an Intent to File form or submitted your claim without evidence, gather the documentation and submit it to support your claim.
If you do not have all of your documentation together but want to file a claim, use an Intent to File form instead. The date on which you file the claim becomes your effective date and is still active as long as you complete your claim within 365 days of the effective date. You might qualify for backpay.
» MORE: Is anxiety a disability?