VA Permanent and Total Service Connected Disability: What does it mean?

David Magann

Under 38 USCS Section 110 states: “A total rating of 100% (or other permanant rating) that has been in continous force for twenty years shall not be reduced.” Until then you are subject to whatever exams for rating purposes the VA desire. However, barring no reduction, permanent and total service connected disability is a 100% rating that entitles you to many benefits not available to those who are not P & T, i.e., dental treatment, commissary privileges, veteran’s employment preference for spouse, •special home adaptation grants, survivors and dependents education assistance, etc. and the list goes on.

One should be aware there are some significant distinctions between permanent and total “service connected” disability and permanent and total disability for “Pension” purposes. First, Pension is a needs based program. If an individual in the Pension program is substanially and gainful employed, i.e. exceeds the maximum annual pension rate of $11,830.00 (2009), then no P & T will exist, but note some exceptions such as being employed only in competition with other disabled persons, employment less than 12 months, etc. On the contrary, if you are “service connected” 100% and you do engage in substantial and gainful employment P & T will still exist.

Under 38 CFR 3.340 total disability is defined as “any impairment of mind or body which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful employment.” The key is the “average person” standard and not the “specific claimant standard” as set forth under the Social Security Act’s rules, regulations and case precedents. From the VA “average person” standard the key consideration for obtaining a P & T 100% rating is the “Rating Schedule” found in Part 4 of 38 CFR which is used for both the Pension(all disabilities considered) and Compensation(only service connected disabilities considered) programs.