Updates Proposed to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities
VA Proposed Updates for Respiratory, Auditory, and Medical Disorders
Some changes could be coming to the VA Schedule for rating service-connected disabilities having to do with respiratory, auditory, and medical disorders. This will enable the VA to incorporate modern medical data and terminology to provide veterans with more accurate and consistent decisions.
Update: 5/1/2023: The Department of Veterans Affairs opened a set of proposed changes to certain VA ratings to public comment; that public comment period has ended as of April 18, 2023.
The proposed alterations to the rules are meant to upgrade the VA rating system using current medical data, which has likely improved since the implementation of the original policies; the proposed revised guidelines were posted at the Federal Register for public comment. As mentioned above, that public comment period is now closed.
Why Change the VA Rating System?
VA made the most recent proposed changes, “to incorporate more current respiratory and auditory terminology and apply current standards of assessing and evaluating impairment.” The changes were developed using “published, peer-reviewed materials” and not on the basis of a single expert or study.
The Department of Veterans Affairs also made plans to revise its rating schedule “so its classifications of injuries and diseases more closely resemble those used in health care.”
Proposed Changes by VA
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your breathing stops and starts during sleep. The new VA policy seeks to modernize the rating criteria for sleep apnea. This would include rating a veteran at 0% if a CPAP or other treatment would help treat all symptoms. A 0% rating does not qualify for VA compensation.
- Respiratory – For respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD, the new rules slightly lowers the requirements needed for a 100% rating.
- Tinnitus – For tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ears, policy changes may include viewing tinnitus as a symptom of an underlying disease instead of a stand-alone disability.
- Mental Health – For mental health, the minimum rating would change from 0% to 10% with an end to the rule stating a veteran cannot qualify for a 100% rating for a mental health condition if the veteran is able to work. The VA would, under these guidelines, evaluate how the disability affects the patient across five areas including cognition, interpersonal interactions and relationships, task completion, life activities and navigating environments, and self-care.
No Impact for Veterans Currently Receiving Compensation
In a quote from a news release posted 02/15/2022, Thomas Murphy, Northeast district director, stated that “Veterans who currently receive compensation for a service-connected condition in these body systems will not have their disability rating impacted when the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities is updated. Updating the rating schedule allows Veterans to receive decisions based on the most current medical knowledge relating to their condition.”
Conditions Updated by VA Since 2017
Since 2017, the VA has updated the following conditions:
- Dental and Oral Conditions
- Endocrine System
- Gynecological Conditions and Disorders of the Breast
- Organs of Special Sense (eye conditions)
- Hematologic and Lymphatic Systems
- Infectious Diseases, Immune Disorders, and Nutritional Deficiencies
- Musculoskeletal System and Muscle Injuries
- Genitourinary and Cardiovascular Systems
- VA Expands Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans
- Tax-Free Military Retirement Pay In These States
- New Legislation Impacting the Veteran Community
- VA Enrollment May Become Automatic for Transitioning Veterans
- Nation’s Finest: Veteran Support Program