After you’ve been awarded disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the agency can reassess your claim at any time and adjust your rating and your benefits. Often, this requests happens if the VA believes your condition will improve over time. If a request is made for a reexamination, it’s usually scheduled two to five years from the date you were awarded compensation.
This reexamination can be a medical exam or time spent in the hospital for observation. If the VA feels it has reason to evaluate the severity of your condition, it has the legal right to require either the exam or hospitalization. Whichever is decided, it’s important that you comply with the request. If you don’t appear for these appointments, the VA can terminate your benefits. It’s not always easy to understand the best way to handle these reexaminations, and hiring a disability attorney experienced with the VA process can be helpful.
Receiving a Notice of Reexamination
If the VA decides you must report for a reexamination, it usually means the agency has determined that your medical evidence and reports don’t support continuing your benefits or continuing them at the same rate. Sometimes this occurs because not all medical conditions remain permanent. Some injuries heal over time, and the VA wants to ensure that you’re being compensated for your injuries at the correct rate.
Before any changes are made to your benefits, the VA must send you a notice letter requesting your reexamination. From that date, you have 60 days to submit medical evidence that shows your rating should not be reduced. You also have 30 days to request a hearing. However, if the VA doesn’t send notice and then reduces or terminates your compensation because you didn’t report for the reexamination, you may have your full benefits or rating reinstated.
Additionally, the VA can order a reexamination if new medical evidence indicates that your disability has improved, even if it’s a temporary improvement. For example, if you have a condition that goes into periodic remission, the VA may call you to report for a reexamination for the purpose of reducing your rating and benefits for that period of time. If after the VA makes this reduction and your disability worsens, you can request that your rating and benefits be returned to their original status.
The Results of the Exam
Typically, the VA won’t ask to re-examine a veteran under some specific circumstances, including if he is over 55, has a static disability such as a missing arm or leg, the disability is permanent such as blindness, or he is receiving the lowest possible rating for that condition. Additionally, there are other “protected” ratings that the VA usually will not try to reduce. However, if you’re asked to report for a reexamination, the following are some of the possible results:
- The VA may find that your condition has improved. If new medical evidence shows that your disability has improved or disappeared altogether, the agency will likely reduce your disability rating or sever your claim. Through what is known as “a preponderance of evidence,” the VA must prove that your condition is better and your ability to function in daily life has also improved. The VA can’t legally reduce your benefits unless it has this evidence.
- The VA might find that there’s been no change in your condition. If your reexamination report shows no change in your condition, it is like that your benefits will not be reduced.
- The VA might find that your condition has deteriorated. If the VA determines that your disability is worsening, the agency may increase your benefit rating.
When the VA Requests Your Reexamination
If you’ve been receiving disability benefits and the VA has requested your reexamination, you may have questions and concerns about this process. Contact Cuddigan Law at (402) 933-5405. We can help you understand the possible outcomes of this exam how to submit the proper medical evidence to keep your current rating status. Call us to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation.