Can the VA take away or reduce a veteran’s disability rating? The short answer to that question is yes.
(If you do not have time to read this short article, watch the VA U-tube Video titled, Can the VA take away or reduce a VA Disability Rating and Compensation? Find the video at #the SITREP.)
When a veteran receives a VA decision letter awarding a military service-connected disability rating, it is imperative that the veteran, the veteran’s spouse, and the veteran’s caregiver carefully read the entire package that the VA sent.
Read the VA rating letter and all other VA correspondence carefully
It is especially important to read the VA benefits information in the VA’s letter and enclosures. The VA letter should tell the veteran:
The date of your claim.
If the condition has been determined to be service-connected or not, and the effective date of the rating.
The rating is temporary or permanent.
The combines service-connected disability rating (100%, 90%, 50%, 10% etc.).
The total VA benefit in dollars (monthly award/ entitlement amount), any amount withheld (and why), the amount paid, the payment start date, and how many dependents were recognized in the payment compensated.
If you are considered by the VA to be totally and permanently (P&T) disaled and the effective date.
If the VA considers a veteran to be service-connected for loss of or loss of use of a limb, or totally blind in or missing at least one eye.
If they have received a Specialty Adapted Housing (SAH) and/or Special Home Adaption (SHA) grant.
The letter should include a copy of the VA rating decision that gives the evidence used and reasons for the VA decision. The VA packet will also include information about additional benefits, what the veteran should do if the veteran disagrees with the VA decision, and whom to contact if the veteran has questions.
Future exam required
Veterans need to make note if their disability has been rated permanent or temporary and if there is going to be a future examination of this condition. If the condition is temporary or if a future exam is required, the VA will re-evaluate the condition and may reduce the disability rating.
VA Code Sheet
When veterans receive a VA disability rating, they will also receive a packet of information outlining the VA disability claims decision. Unfortunately, these packets are often missing a key resource, the VA rating Code Sheet. This sheet can help the veteran better understand their disability rating and service connection decision. A veteran can determine if the VA is going to require a future medical examination of the disability condition by reading the VA Code Sheet that the VA should send with their disability decisions.
If a veteran receives a VA Disability Rating Letter from the VA and the packet does not include a Code Sheet, the veteran should request the Code Sheet from the VA. Veterans can request a copy of their VA rating Code Sheet using VA Form 3288, Request For And Consent To Release Of Information From Individual’s Records. Veterans can get a copy of VA Form 3288 at https:// www.va.gov/find-forms/ about-form-3288/.
It is probably better and much quicker for veterans to ask their Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to tell them what the Code Sheet says or print a copy for them. There is a Code Sheet for each VA Rating. If your VA Rating Code Sheet shows a future exam and it has a date for that exam, veterans know for sure that the VA is going to re-evaluate that disability and if the condition has improved, the VA may (and probably will) reduce the disability rating after that exam.
In all cases, if a veteran’s disabling condition (wound, illness, disease, injury) worsens, the veteran should quickly:
See your VA doctor or civilian medical care provider (many veterans are military retirees who use Medicare and Tricare for medical care) and seek treatment and document the worsening condition.
Provide evidence (medical records, letters from doctors, etc.) to the VA that your condition is worsening.
Submit a claim for worsening conditions if the veteran is not already rated by the VA as Permanently and Totally Disabled and the Veterans VSO, VA Certified Attorney, or VA-Certified Claims Agent advises them to submit a claim.
Two sure ways to put your VA Disability Rating at risk
Ttwo sure ways to put your VA Disability Rating at risk include:
Do not show up for a VA-scheduled medical examination.
Do not keep the VA informed about worsening conditions, secondary worsening or new conditions connected to the primary disabling condition, and anything that keeps you from making a VA Disability Rating medical examination.
Follow your VSO’s advice
Make certain that your VSO agrees that filing for a new disability decision will benefit you and not put your other disability ratings at risk. Follow your VSO’s advice to first, “Do no harm” when filing for disability with the VA.
For example, if you are already VA rated as 100% Permanently and Totally Disabled, you may not want to rock the boat with a frivolous or low-benefit claim that may open all of your disabilities to re-evaluation.
You can read all of Larry Dandridge’s past articles on Veterans’ Benefits at The Island News website archives at www.yourislandnews.com.
Larry Dandridge is a Vietnam War wounded warrior, disabled veteran, ex-Enlisted Infantryman, ex-Warrant Officer Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel. He is a past Veterans Service Officer, a Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Hospital, the Fisher House Charleston Good Will Ambassador, and the VP for Veteran Affairs for the local Army Association Chapter. Larry is the author of the award-winning book Blades of Thunder and a contributing freelance writer with the Island News. Contact him at LDandridge@earthlink.net or 843-276-7164.