The Bilateral Factor affects VA disability ratings involving both arms or both legs. Find out if it can help you get a higher VA rating.
In this article about the VA Bilateral Factor:
- The Bilateral Factor Can Help Your VA Disability Rating
- Bilateral (both sides) Disabilities are More than Twice as Hard
- How Much Does The Bilateral Factor Add to My Rating?
- Can I Get a Bilateral Factor on an Arm and a Leg?
- VA Disability Bilateral Factor Examples
- How You Can Compute Your Own VA Disability Rating
- Bilateral Factor is Not a Substitute for SMC
- FAQ: VA Disability Bilateral Factor Ratings
- Talk to us About Your Rating and the VA Disability Bilateral Factor
Video of one of our VA Lawyers talking about the Bilateral Factor in VA Disability Claims:
The Bilateral Factor Can Help Your VA Disability Rating
If a veteran has service-connected injuries to matching limbs on both sides of his or her body, he or she qualifies for an extra percentage of rating called the Bilateral Factor. The Bilateral Factor VA Disability rating counts as an additional rating to make up for the extra difficulties of disability in two matching limbs.
Disabilities that affect both sides of a veteran’s body are far more limiting and severe than disabilities that affect just one side. If you have a disability to your left arm and have a condition develop on your right arm, you are far more limited in how you get through your day. Daily tasks that we consider simple such as washing hair, cooking food, buttoning a shirt, become not so simple anymore.
The problem is, the VA doesn’t always give that away without a fight.
Bilateral (both sides) Disabilities are More than Twice as Hard
The Veterans’ Administration recognizes this, so veterans with disabilities that affect both sides are compensated at a higher rate than disabilities to just one side. Bilateral simply means both sides of the body. The disability does not have to be the same on both sides of your body. It just has to be contained to either your right and left upper body or your right and left lower body. An example of this would be a right elbow condition and a left wrist condition or a right knee condition and a left ankle condition.
While the calculations can be confusing, the important thing to remember is that the bilateral factor works in favor of the veteran and provides for an overall higher combined rating. At the same time, a BVA Judge might not notice that you have a right arm and left arm rating when they are going through the paperwork. While focusing on legal and medical terms, the fact that you have problems with both of your legs, or of paired injuries to your hands might go overlooked.
How Much Does The Bilateral Factor Add to My Rating?
The Bilateral Factor adds 10% of the combined rating to the relevant bilateral ratings. Each side is rated individually and then 10% of their combined rating is added as the bilateral factor. The 10% is added with VA math, so a 20 percent rating on the right arm plus a 30 percent rating on the left arm only add up to 44% (you can see this on our VA Disability Calculator). The Bilateral Factor adds 10% of 44% which is 4.4%. The rating then rounds up to a 50% combined rating. What would have rounded down to 40% (or $635.77 per month) is now a 50% rating which is worth $905.04! That’s an increase of almost $300 per month thanks to the bilateral factor.
From there, a 10% rating for gastritis would take your total up to 47% overall. Without the Bilateral Factor, the final rating would have been 43% rounded down to a 40% benefit, but with the Bilateral Factor, that 47% will be rounded up to a 50% rating benefit worth an additional $261.63 per month!
Here is a video of one of our Veterans Disability Lawyers teaching you how to use our VA Disability Combined Ratings Calculator.
Can I Get a Bilateral Factor on an Arm and a Leg?
No, you can’t use the Bilateral Factor on opposite sides of different limbs. It doesn’t matter what parts of your limbs are injured, but they do have to be both upper or lower extremities. A 10% rating for carpal tunnel on your left hand and a 60% rating for instability on your right hand would qualify for the Bilateral Factor and probably put you into 100% TDIU range. The 60% rating for your right hand and a 50% rating for knee pain in your left knee would not qualify for the Bilateral Factor.
It doesn’t matter if it’s carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrist, elbow flexion and extension issues, an amputated hand, or forearm twisting pain, the whole arm counts as a single unit when it comes to the Bilateral Factor. You only need one rating on each upper extremity to qualify. The same goes for your legs. Feet, knees, thighs, calves, buttocks, etc. all count as part of the leg, so if you have something that deserves a 10% rating or more on each leg, your leg disability qualifies for the Bilateral Factor addition.
VA Disability Bilateral Factor Examples
These are the kinds of ratings that can qualify you for the Bilateral Factor rating addition:
- Arthritis in your left hand and right elbow flexion pain
- Right foot with 3 toes amputated and left hip replacement.
- Left knee extension rating and limited motion of the right buttocks.
- Paired skeletal muscles like both hips or thighs
- Plantar fasciitis (flat feet) in both feet
You can see where partial disability results can quickly multiply if your disability claim details problems with your right and left sides. When you call us and talk to your case manager, he or she will ask you a thorough number of questions to help you get the highest VA disability rating you can get. Our certified VA Lawyers will use these questions to help you get the Bilateral Factor for your claim.
How You Can Compute Your Own VA Disability Rating
If you have received a letter from the VA detailing all of your approved ratings, or if you are trying to find out how much you’ll get per month for your disability caused by your time in the military, you can use our free VA Ratings Calculator. You can also use the VA Combined Ratings Table available on the VA Website but our calculator is easier and it’s smart enough to detect the bilateral factor automatically.
Start with your left/right ratings first. If you have a 30% left side rating, then combine that with your 10% right side rating. From there, add 10% to that amount for the bilateral factor. (You don’t have to add it if you are using our calculator.) You can add a 10% rating onto ratings for your legs, and then also add a 10% rating onto both arms if you are affected in both areas. The disabilities don’t have to mirror each other, but they do have to affect mirrored limbs.
This firm has been excellent at obtaining my disability claim. I now am 100% service connected. No complaints. Thanks to Woods and Woods. I will recommend them for anyone trying to obtain service connected disability.–L.T. Google review
Bilateral Factor is Not a Substitute for SMC
Depending on your conditions, you may qualify for SMC (Special Monthly Compensation). This is not part of a bilateral factor and the VA cannot consider both of them as canceling each other out. If you have disabilities in both hands, you qualify for the Bilateral Factor regardless of what other entitlements are awarded to you. Asking for SMC in addition to your other claims is a good idea. There are many times that the VA might overlook your need for extra monthly help. They have thousands of cases to deal with every week, so you have to ask directly for the benefits you want.
Like Special Monthly Compensation, the bilateral factor was created because the VA understands that certain combinations of disabilities can cause extra difficulties. Don’t assume the VA will notice! Make sure your application or your VA Disability Lawyer explicitly describes the additional problems that a bilateral disability can cause. The VA won’t know how hard it is to wash your hair or feed your grandkids breakfast unless you tell them!
FAQ: VA Disability Bilateral Factor Ratings
Yes, if you have the other requirements of TDIU (Total Disability Individual Unemployability) which are one service connected disability rating of at least 60% or two or more service connected disabilities at least 40 percent or more each with a combined rating of 70 percent or more. The Bilateral Factor would just help get those totals up higher.
Sometimes the VA counts radiculopathy as a nerve disability at the spine level with symptoms in your hands or feet. It’s a dirty trick and it’s worth asking Woods and Woods to look over your claim to appeal that decision.
Yes, absolutely! Anything that will help the rating to be fair counts in your DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) claim. Just because the veteran has passed does not mean that they should not still get the benefits that were due to them.
The additional 10% of the combined rating only applies to arm and leg bilateral disabilities. Vision and hearing disabilities are rated separately.
Yes, and it might be your only chance. Woods and Woods helps a lot of veterans appeal because you must provide new material when you appeal. If the VA missed the fact that they should have counted the bilateral factor in your denied disability claim, you have a good reason to appeal.
Talk to us About Your Rating and the VA Disability Bilateral Factor
You can get our team started working on your claim today directly from the VA Disability Bilateral Factor Calculator or by calling (866)232-5777. We have experience with thousands of cases that involved everything from Agent Orange to Burn Pits. You don’t pay us unless you win, so you have nothing to lose! If you believe you should be getting a monthly check from the VA because of your service-connected disability, call us.