In some instances, VA is authorized to assign temporary 100% disability ratings for particular injuries or diseases. These 100% ratings are often assigned where a veteran has a total joint replacement, or where the veteran suffers from cancer.
Tatum v. Shinseki
On February 26, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued its decision in Tatum v. Shinseki. In that case, the veteran suffered from service-connected prostate cancer and received several treatments to treat the cancer. A VA regulation allowed for 100% ratings to be assigned while the cancer was active and for six months “[f]ollowing the cessation of surgical, X-ray, antineoplastic chemotherapy or other therapeutic procedure.” Thus, the veteran was assigned a 100% disability rating that ended six months following the end of his treatment.
The ultimate holding in Tatum is that the veteran is entitled to be compensated at the 100% level six months after the cessation of treatment for the cancer itself. The veteran in Tatum appears to have suffered from residuals that were secondary to his prostate cancer, and he received treatment for those residuals after the cessation of the treatment for the cancer. But the Court stated that the temporary 100% rating was dependent on the cessation of treatment for the cancer itself, not on the residuals of cancer.
In any event, it is important to remember that temporary 100% disability ratings are available in a variety of contexts. These ratings ensure that veterans are compensated adequately for periods in which service-connected injuries or diseases result in the veteran being unable to work. They allow veterans to fully recover without having to worry about being ruined financially.