Don’t lose hope! There are various avenues to contest the decision, including seeking legal assistance.

Is It Possible To Avoid A Reduction In Your VA Disability Rating?

In certain situations, you can avoid a reduction in your VA disability rating. This can be achieved by attending your re-examination appointment and demonstrating that you still qualify for the same disability benefits you’ve been receiving. The guidance of experienced attorneys can aid you in effectively handling your re-examination appointment and presenting supporting evidence as needed.

Can the VA Reduce My Rating?

In certain situations, the VA may lower your disability rating. However, this isn’t a blanket rule applicable to all disability ratings, and it may not apply to your specific case.

Periodically, the VA may arrange re-examinations conducted by external physicians to evaluate your service-connected disabilities, taking into account factors such as:

  • The persistence of the same disabilities.
  • The consistency or severity of your symptoms.
  • And other relevant considerations.

This process is carried out to ensure that disability compensation is provided only to Veterans who genuinely require it. It’s important to note, though, that the VA is legally required to provide written notice, adhering to Due Process, before reducing your benefits.

Does this mean your disability rating will definitely decrease? Not necessarily. Some medical conditions can improve over time with the help of medication, treatment, and the passage of time. Such conditions may encompass issues like PTSD, disabilities leading to obesity, back pain, or other types of pain, limited range of motion in your limbs that can potentially improve with physical therapy, and more.

Even if you’re concerned about a possible decrease in your disability rating, it’s strongly advisable not to skip a re-examination if it is mandated by the VA. Doing so may almost certainly lead to a reduction in your disability rating without an opportunity to present your case.

Protected Rating

Requirement of Sustained Improvement

If your disability rating has remained stable for five years or more, the VA is obligated to demonstrate sustained improvement in the disability when considering a rating reduction. This entails a thorough examination of the medical history associated with the disability under review. If the VA cannot substantiate sustained improvement, it cannot decrease a Veteran’s rating. The VA must also ensure that the examination records are comprehensive for them to be considered in a rating reduction decision.

If the disability has exhibited temporary or episodic improvement, a reduction can only occur if all evidence unequivocally indicates sustained improvement, considering whether this improvement is likely to be maintained in everyday life conditions.

Requirement of Material Improvement

When the VA considers reducing a 100% disability rating (including Total Disability Individual Unemployability or TDIU based on an individual or combined rating), they must determine whether there has been a material improvement in the physical or mental condition evaluated at 100%. This determination typically requires a thorough medical examination.

Additionally, even if there’s material improvement in a schedular rating, the VA must still evaluate whether the Veteran qualifies for TDIU.

Unprotected Ratings

For disability ratings not covered by specific rules, there’s a possibility of reduction, but it doesn’t imply the VA can do so arbitrarily. The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has established certain principles:

  • Proposed reductions must be grounded in a review of the complete disability history.
  • The VA must determine if there’s been a genuine change in the disability.
  • Any improvement in the disability should be evident in the Veteran’s ability to function under normal conditions.
  • The examinations reporting such improvement must be thorough.
  • If the VA can’t prove these aspects, your rating should not be reduced.