Wingard v. Shinseki, docket no. 11-1214 (Vet. App. Aug. 16, 2013)
VA’s assignment of 0% disability ratings is valid and not inconsistent with the veterans’ benefits statutory scheme.
In order to obtain VA non-service-connected burial benefits, a veteran must be “in receipt of” VA compensation at the time of death. The veteran was service connected for a hernia, rated 0%. He died from non-service-connected conditions. VA denied non-service-connected burial benefits because his service-connected condition was rated as 0% disabling – and, therefore, he was not “in receipt of” compensation. The veteran’s surviving daughter appealed, arguing that the pertinent statutes did not provide for a 0% disability rating. The Veterans Court found that the assignment of a 0% rating was valid and in line with the statutory scheme.