Can the VA Reduce My Disability Rating?

| Heidi H.

We get this question too frequently from our veteran clients. The short answer is “yes”, if the VA follows its own guidelines and procedures. However, there are instances where a veteran’s rating is protected and CANNOT be reduced. In these instances, it is helpful to have an experienced VA attorney assist you through the process.

Disability ratings which continue for 5 years or more require the VA to prove that the veteran’s situation has improved on a sustained basis before a reduction can be made. What does “sustained improvement” mean? It means the VA must show that you are improving and not just temporarily. The VA must point to a specific reason based upon your medical records, C&P exams or any other additional evidence contained in your file.  The threshold for a reduction is higher than the VA citing to just one piece of evidence. The VA must be able to show that your condition has permanently improved.

Once a veteran hits the 20 year mark, the VA is prohibited from reducing the rating. The only exception to this rule is if the disability rating was obtained through fraud. The 20 year mark also applies to instances where the veteran receives an earlier effective date. For example, a veteran is receiving 20% for a back condition and is seeking a higher disability rating. The Regional Office grants the veteran’s rating increase, awards the veteran a 40% rating, with an earlier effective date back 20 years – that 40% rating is now protected and cannot be reduced. The same rule applies to a combined rating if the veteran has been receiving a combined rating for more than 20 years.

HOW CAN THEY REDUCE MY RATING?

Disability compensation is designed to compensate the veteran for their current level of disability. Within your Rating Decision there should be a disclosure which alerts you to the fact that your disability is not considered permanent. Thus, the VA will routinely re-evaluate the veteran’s condition to see if his/her condition has improved.

 I RECEIVED A LETTER FROM THE VA PROPOSING A REDUCTION IN MY BENEFITS, NOW WHAT?

Prior to the VA reducing your disability rating, you will receive a letter from the VA proposing a rating reduction or request you to submit to a reexamination. It is imperative that you attend this examination. If you fail to show, the VA can reduce or terminate your rating without any additional warning.

After the notification has been sent, the veteran has 60 days to submit a response prior to a final decision being issued. During this timeframe you may submit additional evidence for the reviewer to consider. You are also entitled to request a predetermination hearing conducted by VA personnel; however, your request must be made within the first 30 days. If the outcome is an unfavorable one and a final decision has been rendered, you may file a formal Notice of Disagreement.

If you receive a notice from the VA that suggest a reduction in your rating or a notice of reexamination, give us a call to help you. If it is found that the reduction is not warranted, you will be able to be reinstated back to the original rating date.

Don't struggle alone.
Let us help you receive the benefits you deserve.

Contact Us We do not charge for legal consultations.

Recent Posts

The VA Proposes Nine Respiratory Cancers to the Presumptive List

The Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing to add nine respiratory cancers to the list of presumed service-connected disabilities for veterans (...)

Read more
Thank You Veterans!

The first commemoration of Armistice Day was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. This proclamation was made after World War I and was (...)

Read more
New Conditions added to the Agent Orange Presumptive List

Herbicides were used during the Vietnam War to destroy enemy crops.  Many different “colored” agents were used, but the most commonly (...)

Read more
Veteran Burn Pit Exposure

Background: Burn pits were used as a way to dispose of and destroy waste at military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Examples of things burned (...)

Read more
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

BACKGROUND: Between 1953 and 1987, over one million military personnel and their family members were stationed at the United States Marine Corps Bas

Read more
C-123 Aircrafts and Potential Agent Orange Exposure

Throughout the Vietnam War, C-123 aircrafts were used to spray the toxic herbicide Agent Orange.  The aircrafts were found to still have traces (...)

Read more
American Bar Association Member logo
Ohio State Bar Association logo
NOVA - representing Vietnam Veterans logo
Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Bar Association