It is vital for veterans who receive VA disability compensation to understand that, in most cases, their disability ratings are subject to review and change. In cases where a veteran’s rating is unprotected, the rating may be re-assessed by VA, and if your condition has improved since your rating was first rewarded, your rating may be reduced along with your monthly disability payment.
Proposals to reduce your rating will always follow a scheduled re-assessment by VA, and a strict process is followed that allows you to make an appeal. You will be notified of any proposal in advance, and once you receive one, you must present a strong case to maintain your current rating. This post will go through the steps you must take to appeal any proposed reduction to your rating.
VA has a prerogative to only award you disability compensation for your current level of disability, which is why medical re-assessments are scheduled in the first place. To reduce your rating, VA is looking for sustained improvement of your condition, which if found will result in a proposal to reduce your rating. The type and severity of your condition play significant roles in deciding how much you are rewarded in the first place, and when VA will want to re-assess your condition.
A medical assessment may arise from one of two scenarios. If your condition is expected to improve during your initial rating decision process, a medical re-assessment may be scheduled in advance. You will re-assessed for the first time six months after you leave active service, and then sometime between two and five years later, depending once again on the type and severity of your condition. The second scenario occurs when VA receives new medical records that indicate a change in your condition, later on, prompting a re-assessment that was not initially planned for.
It is important to note: you absolutely must attend your re-assessment examination, especially if you want any real hope of fighting a reduced rating.
How to Fight a Proposed Reduction
If VA determines to reduce your rating, it will first send you a proposal to do so. Following the date of the proposal, you have 60 days to submit new evidence to support your appeal, and 30 days to request a hearing. Requesting a hearing is not necessary for appealing, but it does ensure that VA cannot lower your rating until after the hearing is held. Acceptable evidence must be new since your initial rating decision and may include statements by medical professionals and non-medical personnel around you, including family and coworkers.
How to Appeal a Reduced Rating Decision
If VA has in fact issued a decision to reduce your rating, your rating and monthly compensation will be affected. This is when you follow the standard appeals process beginning with the filing of a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Because of changes to the claims process, the date of the decision you want to appeal will affect how you go about this. If the decision was made before February 19, 2019, you will make a legacy VA appeal. If the decision happened on or after that date, you may choose one of three types of appeal: Supplemental Claim, Higher-Level Review, or Board Appeal.
Assistance with Your Claim
Appealing a proposal or decision on a reduced rating requires a strong case backed by solid evidence and expert review. It can be a stressful undertaking, and it may take quite a while until a new decision is made. Even then, that decision may not be guaranteed. Because of this, it is best to work with a VA-accredited lawyer
If you’re facing the prospect of a reduced rating and lower monthly compensation, don’t hesitate to involve someone you can trust who will fight on your behalf and get you the decision you deserve. Contact us at 844-VET-LAWS or fill out our online form to begin your appeal process today.