Deciphering the VA Rating Decision: Understanding What’s Inside

For veterans navigating the complex world of VA disability benefits, receiving a VA rating decision is a significant milestone.


 By Matthew J. Brown, Esq. VA-accredited attorney and partner at Wolf & Brown Law Offices

This document is the culmination of a lengthy process and contains vital information that determines the level of disability compensation a veteran will receive.

Let’s explore what’s inside a VA rating decision and demystify this essential document for veterans seeking support:

1. Veteran’s Information: The VA rating decision typically begins with the veteran’s personal information, including their name, Social Security Number, VA file number, and contact details. This section ensures that the document is correctly attributed to the veteran in question.

2. Claimed Disabilities: The heart of the rating decision is the listing of the disabilities claimed by the veteran. Each disability is detailed with its diagnosis, date of claim, and relevant information from medical records and examinations. Veterans should carefully review this section to ensure that all claimed disabilities are accurately documented.

3. Effective Date: The effective date is a crucial piece of information. It’s the date from which the VA will begin providing compensation for the approved disabilities. This date is often linked to when the VA received the initial claim or when the disability was diagnosed, but it can vary based on individual circumstances.

4. Service Connection: For each claimed disability, the rating decision will indicate whether the VA has granted or denied service connection. Service connection means that the disability is recognized as being linked to the veteran’s military service. If service connection is denied, the veteran will need to review the decision carefully to understand the reasons.

5. Disability Ratings: This section outlines the disability ratings assigned to each condition that has been granted service connection. The VA uses a rating schedule to assign percentages ranging from 0% to 100%, reflecting the severity of each disability. The higher the rating, the more compensation a veteran will receive.

6. Combined Disability Rating: If a veteran has multiple service-connected disabilities, the VA calculates a combined disability rating. This is not simply the sum of individual ratings but is determined through a specific formula. Understanding how this calculation works can help veterans anticipate their overall compensation.

7. Reasons and Bases for Decisions: The rating decision will provide a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind each decision, whether it’s granting or denying service connection or assigning a particular disability rating. This section is vital for understanding the basis of the VA’s decisions and can be used to support appeals or requests for reconsideration.

8. Effective Dates for Individual Disabilities: The document will also specify the effective date for each service-connected disability. These effective dates may vary depending on the specific conditions and their documentation.

9. Future Examination Dates: In some cases, the VA may schedule future examinations to re-evaluate a veteran’s disabilities. These dates will be clearly stated in the rating decision, giving veterans a heads-up for any potential re-assessments.

10. Information on Appealing: If a veteran disagrees with any part of the rating decision, there will be information on how to appeal the decision. This is a critical section for those seeking to challenge or seek a change in their disability ratings or service connection status.


The VA rating decision is a comprehensive document that holds the key to a veteran’s disability compensation. It outlines the approved disabilities, their ratings, effective dates, and the reasons behind the decisions. Understanding what’s inside a VA rating decision empowers veterans to advocate for their rights and access the benefits they’ve earned through their service to our country. It is crucial for veterans to carefully review this document and seek legal assistance if they have concerns or wish to appeal any aspect of the decision.


Read more on the NJ Vet-Wire


Relevant pages: NJ Vet-Wire; Veterans Disability