Seeing a big zero under your disability rating and monthly compensation column is not a good feeling. We understand how frustrating it can be to go through so many processes to receive, what seems like, nothing. The good news is that in the VA system, a 0% rating is not a bad thing. Believe it or not, there are actually several benefits to receiving a 0% service connected disability rating.
What Does a 0% VA Rating Mean?
Once you receive your decision letter for your submitted service connected claims, you may see “0%” next to one of the submitted claims for a condition. This type of assignment from the VA is typically called a non-compensable VA rating because the VA recognizes that your condition exists but doesn’t qualify you to receive monthly compensation.
Although this rating from the VA might seem disappointing, 0% still means you were granted service connection for a condition. In other words, you have half of the problem solved. If the VA recognizes that you did indeed acquire an injury or condition during your service that is affecting you now, then all that’s left is proving the severity of your condition. If you were given a non-compensable rating from the VA, be sure to read on to learn what you can do next.
Benefits of a 0% Service Connected Rating from the VA
Since the VA has conceded to a specific injury or condition, you now have the right to:
- Get treatment by the VA for free (only nonservice-connection conditions have to pay a copay).
- Receive higher priority for healthcare eligibility.
- File a claim for an increased rating for a condition.
- File an appeal for that decision because the injury should be rated at a higher percentage.
What You Need To Know Before Filing A Claim or An Appeal
We don’t want you to feel weary about filing any type of claim because there is a good chance you may receive a favorable outcome. However, we have to warn you that anytime you open a request with your VA documents, you give them the opportunity to change ANY of your ratings. The VA has this ability because they review your entire claim file and if one of your conditions or injuries has improved, they will assess how that contributes to your overall health.
In some situations, a veteran may submit a request for an increase of a specific rating and receive that decision, but then also receive a decrease in another rating for a condition. We don’t want this to happen to you so please seek the assistance of an accredited VSO, claims agent or attorney if you need it.
Filing a Claim Request to Increase Your Rating
If you decide not to file an appeal right away, then you can use time to your advantage. Since your service connected disability paperwork has been submitted to the VA as medical records, you now have a starting point documented. As time goes on, you may be able to prove that your condition has worsened. The biggest benefit of a non-compensable rating is that it gives you the opportunity to show proof of your initial file date, the VA rating, and medical evidence that your condition has gotten worse over time.
When you feel your condition has worsened, you can file a claim for an increased rating to receive compensation. This process will be similar to your initial disability claim. You will need to visit a private or VA doctor for a C&P examination to receive medical proof and documentation that your condition has worsened.
To file your request, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-526ez or submit your claim online. Once you receive the VA decision on your request to increase your non-compensable rating, you will have 365 days from the decision date to submit an appeal. At the end of the day, having a 0% service connected disability is not a bad thing because the VA has conceded to your condition and you will always be service connected for it. We hope that you will receive a favorable rating – the only way to go from 0% is up!