department of veterans affairs, Jonathan Kaupanger, Veteran Affairs, veterans, VA Dental, VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities
gettyimages 57371819 VA updates disability ratings and it only took 70 years!

A patients eye view, as a dentist poses for the photographer on April 19, 2006. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

By Jonathan Kaupanger

For the first time in over 70 years, the Department of Veterans Affairs is updating the entire Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD). Since 1945, VA has updated parts of the schedule from time to time, but this is the first comprehensive change that will mirror contemporary medicine. And the first section updated is the Dental and Oral Conditions system.

The Ratings Schedule is a guide that shows the VA’s claims processors how to access the severity of disabilities resulting from injuries and diseases encountered while on military service.  The VA’s ratings system is broken down into 15 body systems, covering everything from musculoskeletal systems to mental disorders.

This is not something the VA has done quickly. Beginning in 2009 the VA brought together subject matter experts and physicians to review and modernize each of these classifications.  The changes to the Dental and Oral Conditions system go into effect as of Sept. 10.

No existing dental or oral conditions were removed. Instead, disabilities related to dental and oral conditions now contain updated and modern medical terms, include new diagnostic codes for conditions that previously have been rated under other conditions.  Disability levels were added or changed and some diagnostic codes have now been combined.

The VA will consider both the old and new rating schedules for anyone who has submitted a claim or appeal for dental and oral conditions before Sept. 10, 2017. Any claims received by the VA after that date will fall under the new criteria.  If you have a service-connected rating already, but submit a claim for an increase, the rating may increase – or decrease – based on the new ratings system.  VA will not change disability ratings just because of the update to the rating criteria.

Before you rush down to submit a change, you might want to find an accredited VSO to help you through the process. Veterans Affairs has been working closely with VSO to make sure their representatives are trained properly.  You can search for a VA accredited VSO here.  If the VSO agrees to help you with your claim, they can then submit information to the VA’s regional office in your area.

Over the next few months, VA will continue to update the other body systems. The remaining body systems to update are: Mental Disorders, Neurological Conditions and convulsive Disorders, Endocrine System, the Skin, Hemic and Lymphatic Systems, Gynecological conditions and Disorders of the Breast, Genitourinary System, Digestive System, Cardiovascular System, Respiratory System, Infectious Diseases Immune Disorders and Nutritional Deficiencies, Impairment of Auditory Acuity, Organs of Special Sense and the Musculoskeletal System.

To apply for disability compensation, change dependents or just start the process in general, you can go to VA’s eBenefits page located here.

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