VA Disability 10-Year Rule And Rating Reduction By VA
Veterans who have been receiving disability benefit payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for more than a decade can take comfort in knowing that their benefits cannot be terminated unless there is evidence of fraud.
In this article, you'll learn the VA 10-year rule and how to appeal a rating reduction made after 10 years.
Explaining VA Disability 10-Year Rule
The VA provides monthly compensation to veterans who have enduring medical conditions and disabling injuries due to their service. These payments depend on a rating designated by the VA, which is determined after evaluating the nature and severity of the veteran's condition.
In certain instances, injuries or medical conditions may improve as time passes. The VA initially keeps track of a veteran's disease through regular re-examinations. However, when it becomes evident that the medical problem has stabilized or become permanent, the VA discontinues scheduling routine examinations. Veterans know the challenges of adjusting to life with a lasting disability. Some veterans discover alternative employment that they can manage despite their limitations.
Nonetheless, the majority still depend on disability payments to make ends meet. Consequently, knowing that the VA won't unexpectedly alter its rating and withdraw benefits gives some reassurance.
Thankfully, the 10-year rule offers this reassurance. After the VA has granted disability benefits for this duration, the VA cannot reverse its determination of a service connection. Furthermore, if the VA intends to lower the disability benefits, it must first provide notice, a valid explanation, and the chance to provide new evidence during a hearing.
Can My Disability Rating Reduce By VA After 10 Years?
As previously discussed, it's important to note that the VA cannot terminate your rating after 10 years unless it was initially determined invalid. However, can the VA decrease your disability rating after 10 years? Regrettably, the answer is yes. Nevertheless, the VA can only do this if medical evidence demonstrates a genuine improvement in your disability.
Temporary or minor modifications are not counted in this. To modify your status, the VA must provide evidence of a significant improvement in your condition. It's worth noting that since the VA typically doesn't schedule re-examinations once a disability remains unchanged for five years, they must build a robust medical record demonstrating this improvement.
How To Challenge My Proposed VA Disability Rating Reduction?
Before the VA can reduce your disability rating, it has to provide you with notice, and you have a chance to contest the reduction, which commences with the VA sending you a notice of the proposed reduction to your last known address. This notice is obligated to offer thorough explanations for the suggested action.
The veteran then has:
- 30 days to request a hearing
- 60 days to provide new evidence to support benefits retention.
Once the veteran takes either of these steps, the VA cannot reach a final decision until a hearing has been conducted, if requested, and any fresh evidence has been considered. Subsequently, the VA releases a decision notice. If it opts for a payment reduction, it won't become effective until the last day of the month, 60 days after the veteran is informed of the final rating decision.
Can A Veteran Appeal A VA Rating Reduction Made After 10 Years?
Absolutely, but remember that you can exclusively appeal a final decision.
A notice of proposed reduction isn't appealable. The updated appeal process offers veterans various ways to challenge unfavorable decisions. They can submit a supplemental claim, pursue a higher-level review, or initiate a board appeal. If you find the results of your chosen appeal option unsatisfactory and meet the eligibility criteria, you can explore other options.