We spend years trying to force the VA to acknowledge that we have earned a disability rating. However, the VA does not play fair, and they can try to reduce your disability rating. How does this happen? More importantly, how can you prevent this from happening?
How Does the VA Reduce My Rating? Is this Legal?
The VA will start the reduction process by sending you a letter notifying you of their intentions. You will see the option to request a hearing, and you should absolutely request a hearing. This will force the VA to pause your reduction in benefits until after the hearing. You will need that time to assemble your defense.
You must request a hearing with-in 30 days. However, you have up to 60 days to submit evidence that refutes their decision to reduce. The VA is attempting to show that your medical/mental health issues have improved. However, it is your job to prove them wrong.
As a result, you need to submit medical evidence proving that you are correctly rated. Do not back down. Now is the time to go on the offensive. You earned your rating, and you need to be prepared to defend it.
When Should I Start Worrying About A Reduction?
You should start preparing today. The VA is not your friend, but you need them. As a result, you need to be regularly seeing the VA for treatment of your service-connected disabilities. It is your job to create evidence that proves your are correctly rated. Regular treatment is a great way to make sure you do not lose your VA disability rating.
I Thought My Ratings Were Permanent!?
Many veterans assume their ratings are permanent. However, that is simply not true. You may also have heard veterans discuss the 5, 10, and 20 year rules around their disability claims. These provide some level of protection, but nothing is as secure as 100 P&T (permanent and total).
Reduce My VA Disability Rating After 5 Years?
The VA can not reduce a ratings held five years or longer UNLESS they prove your disability have improved on a sustained basis. This is a minimum level of protection, but prevents the VA from reducing you without some level of proof.
Reduce My VA Disability Rating After 10 Years?
They VA can not typically end your service-connected disability after ten years. However, they can reduce the level of compensation. (Example: Your 70% PTSD rating could still be reduced to 10%, but they could not deny you service connection). As a result, veterans do have some additional protection after ten years.
Reduce My VA Disability Rating after 20 Years?
Congratulations. You have crossed a major milestone. The VA can not reduce a rating that has been continuously held for twenty years.
100% Permanent and Total Disability
This is best known as being 100% P&T (the “hundo club”). This is not a higher level of compensation than a typical 100% claim. However, this is the VA acknowledging that they do not intend to re-examine or reduce your claim. They have given up, and you will not lose your VA disability rating.
Fraud – You WILL Lose Your Disability Rating
Everything we write is assuming one very important thing. You are actually telling the truth. No claim based on fraud or lies is secure. The VA will make a point to eliminate your disability rating if they discover fraud. In addition, they will criminally prosecute those who would steal disability dollars. This fraud clause supersedes everything else (20 year rule, P&T, etc.).
The 55 Rule For Reducing VA Disability
One of our current members of Boot Camp is an Army veteran that received his first disability rating at age 56. He had been out the Army for over 25 years, but was still able to prove his service-connected disabilities. As a result, he is now receiving disability payments. However, his ratings are much more secure than those a few years younger than him. He is protected by the age 55 rule. The VA will not seek to reevaluate disability ratings for veterans that are at least 55 years old.
The 55 year rule supersedes the 5, 10, and 20 year rules. As a result, it is a very veteran friendly regulation. Age has its privileges.
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