Can the VA Reduce Your Disability Benefits?

The VA can reduce your disability rating. Under VA regulations, the agency retains the right to re-examine you to determine if you are still disabled or if your condition justifies your current disability rating. Based on the results of a re-examination the VA can, in fact, reduce your disability benefits or they could increase your benefits or terminate them entirely. But this not necessarily a cause for panic—not every veteran’s case gets re-examined and not every rating will change.

Some service-connected disability ratings are protected and will never change.  For example, some injuries, like the loss of a limb, will never improve, so they will not be re-examined. Any disability that has been judged by the VA to be Permanent and Total are not typically scheduled for re-examination. If you have had the same rating for five or more years, your rating will not be reduced unless all medical evidence--not just the re-examination results—shows that your condition has substantially improved on a permanent basis. If your disability rating has been in place for 20 or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless it can prove fraud.

However, there are other disabling injuries and illnesses that heal over time. That is why the VA schedules re-examinations. If the VA calls for a re-examination it will usually be scheduled within two to five years after your initial examination. It can also happen any time there is material evidence of a change in your condition.

The VA is required to send you a re-examination notice letting you know when and where to appear for your exam. You must show up for the exam. If you don’t, your benefits are likely to be terminated. If, for any reason, you can’t make it to the re-examination appointment, contact the VA immediately to re-schedule. 

If as a result of the re-examination the VA reduces your disability rating you can appeal their ruling and you have 30 days in which to request a hearing. And you have up to 60 days to submit evidence to contest a reduction in your disability rating. The VA must notify you before they downgrade your disability rating. If the agency fails to notify you, your benefits should be fully re-instated.

If you believe you have been unfairly denied VA disability benefits, not granted the proper rating for your disability, or have been notified that the VA is going to reduce your benefits due to a re-examination, see us at Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation of your situation. We have a dedicated team of professionals who are on your side and will fight for your rights.

 

 

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