Total Ratings are 100% Military Disability Ratings. A 100% rating is given if a veteran’s conditions are so severe that it is impossible for the veteran to work at all. Often, the veteran also has trouble taking care of their own daily needs.
Total Ratings apply to both VA Disability and DoD Disability, but since the most that can be given for Medical Retirement by the DoD is 75%, they don’t make a significant difference for DoD Disability.
Total Ratings can be given for single conditions (i.e. 100% for active cancer) or as a total combined rating if the veteran has multiple conditions that, when combined using VA Math, result in a 100% rating.
Hospitalization Ratings and Convalescent Ratings are temporary Total Ratings given for short time periods, like after surgery, when a condition becomes severe but is expected to improve. The VASRD also includes temporary Total Ratings for many conditions, like pulmonary tuberculosis, that is presumed to make a veteran unable to work while it is active. If the VASRD does not allow for a Total Rating for a condition, then it can only be assigned a Total Rating if it qualifies for hospitalization ratings, convalescent ratings, or Individual Unemployability.
All Total Ratings given by the VA are only given for a particular period. The VA will require a follow-up exam at the end of the designated period in order to re-evaluate and re-rate the condition. They can then either lower the rating if the condition has improved, continue the Total Rating if it hasn’t but is still expected to improve, or assign a Permanent & Total Rating if the condition is no longer expected to improve.
See our VASRD Principles discussion of Total Disability Ratings for additional information.
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Total Ratings FAQs
What are Total Ratings?
Total Ratings are 100% ratings given for DoD Disability or VA Disability when a veteran's conditions are so severe that they are unable to work at all. Often the veteran is also unable to care for themselves.
Are Total Ratings permanent?
Not at first. All Total Ratings start off temporary until it is clear that the conditions will not improve in the future. The VA can then make the rating Permanent and Total.
Am I eligible for a Total Rating?
You are eligible for a Total Rating if you have a condition or group of conditions that qualify for a 100% rating.
How do I apply for a Total Rating?
You do not technically apply for a Total Rating, but instead claim your conditions to have them rated by the VA. If you are not given a 100% rating even though your conditions qualify, then you can submit an appeal. If your conditions have worsened over time and now qualify, you can submit a claim for an increased evaluation.
Am I eligible for VA Disability?
You are eligible for disability benefits from the VA if you have one or more medical conditions that you can prove are service-connected.
How long does it take to receive my disability benefits?
You will receive your first payment within 1-2 months after your claim has been determined.
How much money will I receive for my Total Rating?
Congress determines the amounts paid each month for a 100% rating for VA Disability. These amounts are updated every few years or so. You can find the current rates on our VA Disability Chart page.
When can my Total Rating become Permanent and Total?
In order for a Total Rating to be declared permanent by the VA, it must show a history of no improvement and not be expected to improve in the future.