What is Co-Managed Care for Veterans?

Can the VA Re-examine Me and Downgrade my Disability Compensation?

Yes, indeed, the Department of Veterans Affairs does have the right to re-examine you, and if the facts warrant it, downgrade your disability percentage. This is generally true for any veteran whose disability rating is anything less than “P & T,” or “permanent and total,” and for veterans whose disability is not considered “static.”

“Permanent and total” is, of course, self-explanatory – if the disability is permanent, there is of course no point in periodically reassessing it.

The same is true for a static disability. A static disability is simply disability that is not going to go away over time. For example, if you are missing a leg, that leg is not going to grow back, no matter how much therapy the VA throws at it. That would be an example of a static disability: The VA does not need to reexamine you in order to verify that you haven’t grown another leg since you were last evaluated.

These ratings are called “protected” ratings. The VA cannot reduce your benefit for a permanent and total or static disability. However, even 100 percent ratings that have been in effect for less than five years may be reevaluated.

For everyone else, though, the VA can and routinely does schedule a re-examination to assess whether there has been any improvement in your condition that would justify a reduction in your disability compensation.

Often, the VA will call you or send you a letter informing you that you are being scheduled for a re-examination. They will normally do so about every five years, or until your condition either vanishes or becomes static or permanent and total.

If you are scheduled for a re-examination, you must go to the exam if you want to keep your disability rating. If you miss the exam, you can expect the Veterans Administration to reduce and possibly eliminate your benefit, according to Jim Fausone, an attorney with Legal Help for Veterans, LLC, a Michigan Law Firm that specializes specifically in helping veterans deal with the Veterans Administration.

However, if you have been classified with the same rating for 20 years – a continuous rating in legal terms, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless they can demonstrate that you have committed fraud.

According to Chris Attig of the Attig Law Firm, a law firm specializing in federal employment issues, the VA should not attempt a benefits reduction if:

  • The disability is static
  • The disability has been persistent for at least five years without material improvement
  • The disability is permanent and cannot be expected to improve
  • The veteran is over age 55
  • The rating is already at the minimum
  • A reduced rating for a given disability will not affect the total rating.

The age 55 limitation is significant: Veterans approaching retirement age can feel reasonably confident that the VA will not move to reduce their benefits when they are too old to reasonably reenter the work force.

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