The VA Changes Bilateral Factor Rules

Today, the VA announced that they will be adjusting the rules regarding the use of the Bilateral Factor

What is the Bilateral Factor?

The Bilateral Factor is an extra 10% that is added to a veteran’s ratings when they have two or more conditions that affect bilateral limbs (both arms, both legs, or all four limbs). 

The purpose of the Bilateral Factor is to boost the rating just a bit to help account for the inability of the opposite limb to compensate for a condition. If you have a right knee condition, your left leg will compensate a fair amount. However, if you also have a left hip condition, it will be much harder, if not impossible, for the leg to compensate. 

How is the Bilateral Factor changing?

In most cases, the Bilateral Factor does not actually increase the Total Combined Rating, but in many cases, it does boost it up to the next highest percentage. The VA has discovered, however, that in some rare cases, it actually decreases the Total Combined Rating.

Because of this, the VA is changing the laws to allow the Bilateral Factor to not be applied in cases where it will result in a lower rating, thus allowing all veterans to receive the highest compensation possible. 

Again, it is very rare to have the Bilateral Factor decrease the Total Combined Rating and only occurs in situations where the combined rating is in the 90’s with bilateral conditions left to combine. 

For example, if the combined rated is 93% and there are two 10% bilateral conditions remaining, the Bilateral Factor rules require that the two 10% conditions are first combined to 19, then 10% of that is added, equaling 20.9. This is then rounded to 21% and combined with the 93%, totally 94.47. This is then rounded down to the nearest percent, 94%, and then rounded down again to the nearest 10%, resulting in a Total Combined Rating of 90%. 

If the Bilateral Factor is not added, however, then the first 10% is combined with the 93% to 93.7, which is rounded to 94%. The second 10% is then combined with the 94% to 94.6, which is rounded to 95, and then up to 100% for the Total Combined Rating. 

The ability to not use the Bilateral Factor will allow the VA to ensure that all veterans receive the highest rating possible. 

What happens next?

Once this change goes into effect on 4/16/2023, the VA will review all current ratings that use the Bilateral Factor and automatically remove it in cases where it will result in a higher rating. The increased rating will have an effective date of 4/16/2023. The VA will notify all veterans whose ratings are increased by this change.  

If you do not wish to wait for the VA to review your case, you may submit a request to have it reviewed.

To fully understand how ratings are combined using VA Math, check out our thorough discussion on our VA Math page. 

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