What is the 70-40 Rule for VA Disability?

The 70-40 rule in the context of VA disability refers to the combination of disability ratings assigned to a veteran’s service-connected conditions. In the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation system, each service-connected condition is assigned a disability rating on a scale from 0% to 100%, in increments of 10%. The 70-40 rule becomes relevant when a veteran has multiple service-connected conditions.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the 70-40 rule:

Understanding VA Disability Ratings

Disability Ratings: Each service-connected condition a veteran has is assigned a disability rating based on the severity of the impairment. These ratings range from 0% (least severe) to 100% (most severe).

dept of va affairs

The 70-40 Rule Explained:

Primary Criteria: To be eligible for disability compensation, a veteran must have at least one service-connected condition with a disability rating of 10% or higher.

Combining Ratings: When a veteran has multiple service-connected conditions, the VA uses a specific formula to combine these ratings. This is where the 70-40 rule comes into play.

Highest Rating: The VA first considers the condition with the highest disability rating. This is referred to as the “primary” or “highest rated” condition.

Additional Ratings: If a veteran has more than one service-connected condition, the VA combines the disability ratings for each condition. However, the additional conditions must be rated at least 10% individually to be considered.

70% Combined Rating: The 70-40 rule comes into effect when the combined disability ratings of all service-connected conditions reach 70% or more.

40% Rule: Once a veteran’s service-connected conditions have a combined rating of 70% or more, the VA considers the possibility of additional compensation through the 40% rule.

Calculating Additional Compensation:

  • Additional Benefits: If a veteran has one or more individual conditions rated at 40% or higher in addition to the primary condition, they may be eligible for additional compensation.
  • Compound Ratings: The VA calculates these compound ratings by combining the primary condition with the highest additional condition, then using the combined rating to calculate additional compensation.

Example Scenario:

Let’s consider an example to illustrate the 70-40 rule:

Primary Condition: PTSD rated at 50%

Additional Conditions: Back injury at 30%, Knee injury at 20%, and Tinnitus at 10%

  • The highest individual rating is for PTSD (50%).
  • The combined rating of the additional conditions is 60% (30% + 20% + 10%).

Since the combined rating (50% PTSD + 60% additional conditions) exceeds 70%, the veteran may be eligible for additional compensation based on the 40% rule.

Importance for Veterans:

Understanding the 70-40 rule is crucial for veterans seeking compensation for service-connected conditions. It highlights the potential for additional benefits when multiple conditions are present, especially when one or more conditions have a significant impact on the overall disability rating.


In summary, the 70-40 rule is a key aspect of the VA disability compensation system that addresses the combined impact of multiple service-connected conditions on a veteran’s overall disability rating. 

Veterans navigating the VA claims process should be aware of this rule to ensure they receive appropriate compensation for the cumulative effects of their service-related impairments. It’s recommended that veterans work closely with accredited representatives or service organizations to navigate the complexities of the VA disability system and maximize their entitled benefits. A VA attorney can also help someone who has previously been denied benefits. 

If you’ve been denied benefits, or need help applying for benefits for the first time, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional who can help you with your situation. VABenefitsAttorneys can potentially match you with an attorney who can help you with your specific case today.

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