You just transitioned from service and received a zero percent disability rating. Initially, you may be disappointed but there are some really positive aspects of receiving this rating. In simple terms the VA is saying “we recognize that your injury is related to service but we do not think it rates a monthly compensation”. Let’s discuss why this is so valuable. If you need guidance on filing your VA Claim and you have at least one day left on active duty, schedule an appointment now!
Nobody is going to
Receiving a 0% service connected disability rating is a victory because the VA has recognized that your injuries/ailments ARE service connected. That is HUGE! Most veterans have a very difficult time proving injuries are service connected after they transition from service. You will not have to fight that battle which will make seeking treatment for the injury very easy. Additionally, if this injury continues to worsen or your health declines as a result of this service connected injury you can file a secondary claim or ammendment anytime.
0 + 0 = $145 a
0 + 0 = 10%. This is what is widely referred to as “VA Math”. If you receive two zero percent disability ratings service connected disabilities you can combine those two and receive a 10% rating. This is equal to $142.29 a month. You won’t be getting rich off of 10% but you are getting something and you can always refile a claim later if your injuries get worse. If you would like to read more about multiple non-compensable service-connected disabilities check out CFR 3.324.
0 + 0 = No funding
The next benefit is not widely known or associated with 0% service connected ratings. If you plan on using a VA loan or already have one you are entitled to having your VA Funding Fee refunded. On a $200,000 home this is roughly $3,000. For a more thorough analysis of VA home loan funding fees check out the VA Funding Fee blog. You must have a combined rating of 10% in order to be eligible for this benefit.
10 Point Veteran
ZYou are also eligible to receive a 10 point Veteran preference when seeking federal employment. This is an obscure benefit but it can put you ahead of other competitive applicants. Its worth being familiar with.
This one came as a surprise to me. You are eligible to use the commissaries, exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs online and in-person. This is often overlooked but includes Information Tickets and Travel (ITT). If you’re not familiar with ITT, check it out here. For instance, if you want to buy tickets for DisneyLand or Lift Tickets to your local mountain, you can use this office as it falls under MWR. To me, that is huge! You can buy annual passes to Disney, Universal and Lego Land. ITT also allows you to purchase annual ski lift tickets based on your location. I can’t speak to everything ITT offers but they typically offer 50% discount for tickets.
The VA will reimburse you for travel to your appointments as related to your service connected disability. This includes gas mileage at the government rate or reimbursement for public transportation. Check out the current reimbursement rate and other reimbursable expenses here. If you take an Uber or Lyft ask for partial or full reimbursement.
All treatment and medications for your injury/ailment is covered by the VA. So, for instance if you need medication to control pain, they will provide it. They will also provide imaging studies or laboratory studies as needed. Services to refile your claim are also available. To fully understand prescription copayments check out the VA’s site here.
What Are Secondary
Conditions? I’m glad
Its worth mentioning that you should be considering secondary conditions as they relate to your primary service connected disability. As an example, if you tore your ACL in your knee and had subsequent surgery. Your knee may not demonstrate any compensable loss however, you may have a surgical scar. Scars are compensable and can be claimed on any VA claim and often times result in a zero percent disability rating.
Zero percent disability is building block to obtain a higher disability rating in the future.
It is my hope that this information can help at least one person improve their experience with the VA and live a longer healthier life.