Changing Disability Rating Schedules for Respiratory, Auditory and Mental Disorders

Changing Disability Rating Schedules for Respiratory, Auditory and Mental Disorders

The VA released a post today proposing changes to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) that directly affect the respiratory, auditory, and mental disorders body systems. Modern medical advances and knowledge would be employed to compensate Veterans more accurately under the changes.

Veterans Affairs uses the VASRD to determine the appropriate amount of compensation for service-connected disabilities as documented by supporting medical evidence. It's getting updated to reflect modern evaluative criteria based on advancements in medical terminology, diagnosis, and treatment.

By Feb. 15, the Veterans Benefits Administration will publish proposed rules and regulations in the Federal Register concerning the respiratory system, ear, nose, and throat problems, auditory disorders, and mental disorders. Veteran and public comment will be accepted during the 60 days following the publication of the proposed rules.

They won't affect currently disabled vets getting compensation since they're only proposed changes. Over the next 60 days, let's hear what you have to say about these proposed changes. VA will discuss the comments received and consider them in a subsequent final rule to implement these changes.

Among the proposed changes is modernizing the evaluation criteria for sleep apnea by evaluating treatment response to the symptoms. A Veteran whose symptoms are fully treated by using a CPAP machine or other treatment would be rated at zero and not be entitled to benefits; VA will provide increasingly higher percentage ratings based on the degree to which symptoms persist after treatment.

As a result, the rating criteria for sleep apnea will now be in line with the intended purpose of the rating schedule, which is to give evaluations based upon the average impairment of earning capacity.

In the case of conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the proposed rules would tighten some of the requirements for a 100% rating. Veterans with tinnitus would receive service-connected compensation.

According to the proposed rules, the minimum disability rating for mental health conditions would increase from 0% to 10%. With this rule, VASRD would get rid of an outdated part that prevents a Veteran from getting a 100 percent rating for mental health issues if they can work.

As a result of the VA's work, Veterans will receive the compensation they deserve and need, especially when it comes to mental disorders. Veterans Affairs proposes to use new evaluation criteria to more accurately recognize the different domains of impairment caused by mental disabilities to provide adequate compensation for the financial hardships imposed on Veterans with service-connected mental disorders.

Instead of assigning an evaluation based on the number and type of symptoms present, these changes would rely on the impact of the disability across five domains of impairment: mental functioning, interpersonal relationships, task completion, life activities, and managing the environment.

Interested veterans, caregivers, and partners can read the proposed rules, and they're invited to comment:

  1. Schedule for Rating Disabilities-Ear, Nose, Throat, and Audiology Disabilities; Special Provisions Regarding Evaluation of Respiratory Conditions; Schedule for Rating Disabilities-Respiratory System - Content Details – 2022-02049.
  2. Item 8498 of 87 FR 8498 Schedule for Rating Disabilities: Mental Disorders - Content - 2022-02051.

Again, everyone's rating won't change based on the proposed changes. Veterans who currently receive compensation for a service-connected condition can apply to receive increased compensation after the changes are finalized.

Even if a Veteran's symptoms no longer justify the current evaluation, no reductions shall be made unless a significant improvement in the Veteran's disability can be shown since the last schedule used to assign an assessment.

Since September 2017, we have updated the rating schedule for the following body systems: