How Much Will VA Disability Rates Be In 2023?
Due to nationwide inflation, VA compensation rates will dramatically increase in 2023. The final VA disability COLA will be determined by the average of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the 3rd quarter (July, August, and September 2022).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.1 percent in August on a seasonally adjusted basis after being unchanged in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 8.3% before seasonal adjustment.”
What Is the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)?
A COLA is a change in the amount of compensation paid for your disability rating. This is usually based on changes to the national cost-of-living rate due to inflation.
According to the United States Social Security Administration (SSA), “Since 1975, Social Security’s general benefit increases have been based on increases in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. We call such increases Cost-Of-Living Adjustments, or COLAs. We determined a 5.9-percent COLA on October 13, 2021. We will announce the next COLA in October 2022.”.
Does COLA increase affect VA disability?
COLA does not increase your rated disability. It merely changes the monthly payment for that disability rating.
Once the BLS calculates the monthly CPI-W, this will then be used by the SSA after they pull the data from the third quarter of the previous fiscal year and this year’s third quarter (July, August, and September) to determine COLA for the upcoming year. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will then adjust veterans’ monthly compensation to reflect the updated cost of living.
Will VA Disability Compensation Rates Increase in 2023?
The VA will provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2023 of between 9.3% to 11.4% based on recent projections. The decision should be available October 13, 2022. This is a very significant adjustment to address the overall inflation rate nationwide:
- 2020 COLA 1.6%
- 2021 COLA 1.3%
- 2022 COLA 5.9%
Projected pay rates:
|Combined VA Rating||Estimated 2023 VA Compensation Rates (9.6% increase)||2022 VA Compensation Rates||2021 VA Compensation Rates|
Is VA Disability Pay Tax-Free?
VA compensation is tax-free; however, additional sources of income may result in taxable income. Please consult your accountant or tax advisor.
How VA Disability Compensation is Determined
VA disability compensation is determined by a rating schedule that requires that your condition meet certain medical criteria. The specific rating is based on the diagnostic code associated with your condition. The rating schedule is based on the VA’s assessment of how your condition is expected to affect your ability to work. In other words, it is based on a functional assessment of the impact of your condition on your ability to work. In some cases, the VA will assign a 0% rating if you have a service-connected condition that does not produce any symptoms or functional restrictions.
In some cases, you may qualify for a “non-schedular” rating if the effect of your condition is not adequately addressed by the schedular rating. For example, a skin condition that affects only 5% of your body surface may only produce a 10% rating under the schedule. However, if that 10% is limited to your hands and thereby precludes the use of your hands, the VA should assign an extra-schedular rating that accounts for your inability to use your hands for work activity.
How to Increase VA Disability Ratings
VA compensation ratings may always be increased if the condition has grown worse over time. There must be medical evidence to support an increased rating. A claim for an increased rating is a new claim. The effective date for an increased rating is the date the claim is made. Do not delay if your rated condition has gotten worse. If your claim for an increased rating is denied, seek legal assistance to determine whether an appeal is justified. Your lawyer can assist you with a medical opinion from a non-VA doctor to support your claim.
You should carefully consider whether any of your medical conditions may be related to service. If your condition pre-existed entry into service, was that condition aggravated by service? If your condition was not diagnosed while in service, did you exhibit symptoms of that condition while in service or within a year after discharge? Is your condition due to or made worse because of an existing service-connected condition? Current research reveals that conditions such as PTSD may cause sleep apnea. Presumptive service connection is available for a wide number of exposures, such as Agent Orange and Gulf War exposures from burn pits. Seek legal counsel to address these issues.
How Do I Apply for VA Disability Compensation Benefits?
You can apply online through eBeneifts on the VA website (va.gov), by visiting any VA Regional Office, through the Florida or other state VA office, through veterans’ service organizations (American Legion, AmVets, VFW, etc.), or through a qualified attorney licensed to practice before the VA.
How to Appeal a VA Disability Claim
You have one year within which to appeal an initial denial of benefits. Shortened time periods are involved if the VA has issued a subsequent decision upon a prior appeal. There are several types of appeal available. Your attorney can guide your decision to appeal and which appeal option is best for you. Don’t wait until the last minute to seek legal counsel. Your attorney needs time to review the evidence and consider the best option for you.
The Bottom Line
Claims for VA disability compensation can be complicated, complex, and time-consuming. Without a strong background in VA law and practice, you may be overwhelmed. Contact us online or call us at 727-321-4993 to get immediate legal assistance.
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