Friday, August 12, 2011

Bilateral Factors and VA Disability Calculations

Author’s Note: Click this link or visit the very bottom of this blog’s home page to use my online Disability and Bilateral Percentage Calculators. This tool is still in development, and the bi-lateral calculation functionality is brand new. I would appreciate any feedback or compatibility issues you may have.
The impact of Bilateral Conditions, or those conditions affecting both arms, both legs, or skeletal muscles must be combined before proceeding with standard disability calculations.  This is actually beneficial to Claimants since this process results in adding additional compensation percentage points to two individual (but pairable) ailments.  The law governing the calculations may be found at 38 CFR §4.26.

To calculate the Bilateral Factor, combine the individual disability ratings for each individual limb using similar math to the standard disability rating, but without rounding.  Once the combination is performed, then add 10% of the combined value to the calculated combination of the two factors.  I simply multiply the combined factor by 1.1 for simplicity.  Then round this number to the nearest "1".  Once this number is determined, then use the resulting value as a single disability percentage in the calculations described here.  An example of determining the Bilateral Factor is as follows:
100% - Capacity before disability
x 10% - Disability of the Right Thigh
=90% - Remaining Capacity
x 10% - Disability of the Left Foot
=81% - Remaining Capacity Before Bilateral Factor
100%-81% = 19% Disability Caused by Both Conditions
x 1.1 = Adds 10% to compensate for Bilateral Disability
=20.9% Before Rounding to nearest "1"
=21% - Bilateral Disability Factor to be used in calculating overall disability.

I hope this is helpful to those of you attempting to understand how the VA arrives at their final ratings.

Please contact VA Disability Attorney Thomas C. O'Brien for further information.


  1. Concerning " Back Issues". My lumbar is rated 20% Left 10% right. + 10% ROM. Thoracic was just approved. If awarded 10% left + 10% right - will all of these claims become one bilateral award number ?

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  3. The VA says you cannot have multiple disabilities add up to 100% for the first qualifier for SMC "S". So with the Bilateral Factor, it states that you need to combine all bilateral factored disabilities, add 10%, thus making those all one disability. I have yet to see an example where a Veteran will make a 100% rating using the bilateral factor. So would the Bilateral Factor be an exception to that rule?