Disability ratings that have been in effect for a particular period of time are protected by the VA. Your VA disability rating may become permanent in some instances and the VA may terminate or alter a veteran’s disability rating based on particular circumstances unless certain regulatory protections kick in. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will assess your service-connected condition to see if it still requires a specific disability designation. The Veteran’s disability rating may be decreased if the VA deems that the Veteran’s condition has improved.
When Your VA Disability Rating Might Be Permanent
When it is reasonably clear that, based on medical evidence, a particular disability will not improve, the VA considers it “permanent.” The VA can also consider age when deciding whether a disability is permanent, making it harder for younger veterans to be labeled permanently disabled. When the VA determines that a veteran’s service-connected disability is permanent, re-examinations are no longer required. If you meet the requirements of 38 CFR 3.32, you will be exempt from future exams.
- Your condition remains the same.
- You are 55 years or older, but some exceptions may apply
- Your service-connected disability has shown no signs of improvement for a period of five years or more and there is no likelihood of your disability improving
- The rating you received is the prescribed minimum rating
Reducing a rating is only permitted under 38 CFR 3.105(e) if the following conditions are met:
- All of the veteran’s medical history has been reviewed
- The veteran undergoes a thorough examination
- The VA finds sustained improvement in the veteran’s ability to function under the ordinary conditions of life, including employment.
“Sustained improvement” is defined as a reduction in service-connected symptoms that has been consistent over time, across settings, and under normal life conditions (38 CFR 3.344). It is impossible to ascribe the advancement to chance or extenuating factors such as:
- A disability’s predisposition to temporary or episodic improvement
- Temporary alleviation by prolonged rest
- Less thorough or complete modes of examination
Before decreasing a veteran’s rating, the VA is required to provide the veteran 60 days to present evidence and 30 days to request a hearing. If a reduction has no effect on the amount of compensation a veteran receives, the VA is not required to notify them.
It has been established that the VA does not need to spend money examining a veteran’s service-connected disabilities in some cases. Some disability ratings may be “safeguarded” as a result. The VA will not be able to decrease or cancel a protected disability rating in the future. This is known as a “protected rating.” They can be identified as.
- 5 years or more of stable ratings
- 100% total ratings
- VA ratings at 10 years
- Continuous ratings at 20 years or more
How to Know When Your Disability Rating is Permanent
There are various ways to detect whether or not your rating is permanent, you should examine the decision letter you received from the VA when you applied for benefits. Things to look out for are.
- A Permanent and Total box will be checked on multiple Rating Decisions if your 100% disability is permanent.
- “Eligible to Dependents Chapter 35 DEA / CHAMPVA is established” and “no future tests are scheduled” are two more statements that imply long-term status.
Different VA Regional Offices may utilize different terminology. The VA does not consider your disability rating to be permanent if your letter mentions that more examinations are planned.
If you believe that your disability is unlikely to improve at any point in the future, you can submit a claim to the VA requesting a permanent rating. With your claim, you should include.
- Medical evidence
- Treatment records
- Doctor’s opinions showing that your condition cannot be expected to improve in the future.
TDIU (Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability) isn’t always a permanent condition. The VA can only revoke TDIU status for veterans if employability is proven by clear and convincing evidence (38 CFR 3.343(c)). As a result, the VA can only remove your TDIU status if you can work for a living.
It’s also important to note that veterans would have had to work for at least 12 months and earn more than the federal poverty level in order for the job to be judged significantly gainful.
If you’re struggling to distinguish between permanent and non-permanent disabilities, you can contact a Veteran Service Organization to assist you in deciphering your ratings. If your rating has been improperly reduced, or you have received a denial-of-service connection or an improperly low rating, contact a seasoned Veterans Advocacy lawyer at the Law Office of Andrew P. Gross.