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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides financial compensation, healthcare, and other benefits to veterans with service-related disabilities. These benefits extend to those who served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. The veteran must show that their service caused their condition or exacerbated an existing condition. The VA also requires an honorable discharge.

In some cases, the veteran’s injury or illness results in total disability. But getting 100% disability VA qualifications can be difficult.

Gerling Law is here to help. Our experienced VA disability attorneys can guide you through the application or appeal process so that you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Contact us online or call (888) 437-5464 today to get started.

What Does It Mean to Be 100% Disabled?

A rating of 100% disability means the service-connected mental or physical impairment renders it impossible for the average person to remain substantially and gainfully employed.

This does not mean that someone who meets the qualifications for 100% VA disability cannot work at all. Veterans may still do odd jobs and very low pay work, which is referred to as marginal employment. 

Nonetheless, a 100% disability rating entitles a veteran to the maximum monthly compensation available. As of December 1, 2021, the monthly benefit for a 100% rating is $3,332.06. The VA will provide a larger amount to disabled veterans with dependents. 

VA 100% Disability Qualifications

There are several routes to qualifying for a 100% VA disability rating. However, because each requires the veteran to provide substantial evidence and overcome procedural hurdles, employing an experienced VA attorney can help you recover the benefits and compensation you need.

100% Rating Based on the VA Schedule

Some conditions or injuries qualify by themselves for a 100% disability rating. The VA also will combine ratings for multiple conditions. They do not simply add up the numbers, though. Instead, the VA uses its own system to come up with a combined rating. If you have multiple disability ratings, use the VA calculator to see if you reach 100%. 

Total Disability Due to Individual Unemployability

Some veterans qualify for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). This allows a veteran with a lower rating to receive benefits and compensation at the same level as one with a 100% disability rating.

To qualify, a veteran must have at least one rating of 60% or two or more ratings that yield a combined rating of 70%. The individual also must be unable to maintain a steady job and support themselves because of their service-connected disability. 

Temporary 100% Disability Rating

There are several situations in which someone who qualifies for 100% VA disability receives this rating only temporarily.


Veterans who recently left active duty service and have an unstable service-connected disability that is expected to last for an unknown amount of time may receive temporary, total disability benefits.

An unstable illness or injury is one that is expected to change or requires further treatment. Cancer diagnosed during active duty, which requires ongoing radiation treatment after medical discharge, is an example of a condition warranting a prestabilization rating.

Depending on your condition’s severity, you will receive a 50% or 100% rating. This rating will continue for one year after your discharge from active service. However, the VA will not assign a prestabilization rating if it can immediately assign another rating of 50% or more under the regular provisions.


Spending time in a VA hospital or VA-approved hospital because of your service-connected disability also can boost your rating to 100%. To be eligible, you need to spend more than 21 days in the hospital. An example might be if the stress of service caused a heart attack, which required surgery and significant post-operative care.


The VA grants temporary 100% ratings to those who are unable to move for a period of time due to their service-connected condition. If your physician immobilized one or more of your major joints in a cast, you qualify. 

Otherwise, recovery from surgery is covered if you will need at least a month to recover and the surgery resulted in severe issues such as:

  • Unhealed surgical wounds,
  • Stumps from recent amputations,
  • Therapeutic immobilization from splints or casts,
  • Home confinement, or
  • The need for a wheelchair or crutches.

Depending on your medical issue, the temporary 100% rating will last from one to three months, with the possibility of a 3-month extension.

Permanent and Total 100% Disability Rating

The VA may decide that a total disability is permanent if the impairment is reasonably certain to continue through the disabled veteran’s life. 

Examples of conditions that meet this standard are:

  • Permanent loss of the use of both hands, both feet, or one hand and one foot;
  • Blindness in both eyes;
  • Permanent helplessness; or 
  • Permanent confinement to bed.

Generally, the VA will not schedule reexaminations of these veterans. As a result, it will not have a basis for attempting to reduce their ratings later.

Special Monthly Compensation in Addition to 100% Disability Rating Pay

Veterans who are already paid at the 100% rate for service-connected injuries or illnesses may receive additional special monthly compensation (SMC) under certain circumstances. Examples include being housebound or bedridden or requiring another person’s aid and attendance.

SMC may be paid for other serious disabilities like loss of a limb, reproductive organ, or the ability to communicate by speech, but these disabilities are not necessarily paid at the 100% level.

Experienced Counsel Can Help You Apply for a 100% Disability Rating

We know how frustrating it can be to navigate the VA system. When you are focused on your health, the stress of dealing with a denied or undervalued disability claim can be overwhelming. The attorneys at Gerling Law will fight aggressively for the compensation and benefits you deserve for serving your country. 

Since 1963, Gerling Law has recovered over $500 million dollars representing injured and disabled clients, and we will bring that same focus and determination to pursuing your disability claim. Call (888) 437-5464 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation. 

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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