Veterans sometimes have a difficult time winning approval for their VA disability benefits, and some may worry that those benefits could be reduced or taken away. Disability ratings and benefits can be adjusted over time, and some can be protected long-term—even if a veteran is asked to attend regular reexaminations.

The VA will grant some veterans Protected Benefit Rates, meaning that the amount they receive cannot be reduced unless the VA has a very good reason. The following factors allow veterans to be given protected VA disability status:

  • 100 percent disability rating. It is difficult for the VA to adjust a veteran’s 100% disability rating unless the veteran’s condition has vastly improved. A moderate improvement in your symptoms (such as the ability to walk short distances without assistance) is not enough to reduce the benefit amount.
  • Consistent rating for five years. If your disability has been given the same rating for at least five years, the VA must show that your condition has significantly improved before your rating can be reduced. In addition, the VA must examine all of your medical evidence to prove that your improvement is likely not temporary.
  • Consistent rating for 20 years or more. If you have been granted the same disability rating for 20 or more years, the VA can only reduce your rating if your claim was approved based on fraud.
  • Total inability to work. If your disability has improved to the point that your rating may be lowered, your benefits may be protected if you are still unable to work. A service-connected disability that prevents you from employment can be granted a 100 percent rating under Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).

How Can an Attorney Help Me Protect My Benefits?

Your rating can only be adjusted if your medical records show concrete evidence of improvement in your disability. Many veterans rely on their local VA hospital for health care, and a medical opinion from a VA doctor can suggest an improvement that may not accurately reflect your condition. At Cuddigan Law, we can arrange for an independent doctor to evaluate your disability, ensuring that all of the evidence in your case is accurate and protecting your rating from reduction. Fill out our brief contact form today to ask us a question about your claim, or read through our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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