Whether you are already getting benefits from Veterans Affairs or if you are considering applying but want to understand the full financial implications, it’s entirely understandable to ask questions, perhaps even a lot of questions. One question that comes up often during consultations at Tabak Law is can the VA lower your compensation. Many people, especially in the Milwaukee area, are getting those benefits, and they need reliable income so they can plan for both the immediate and the long-term future. The question is much more than just a yes or no answer, so let’s dive in.
How Often Does the VA Reevaluate Your Disability Rating?
There are basically two types of reevaluations. The first type is automatic reevaluations. These will occur 6 months after leaving military service and at some point between 2 and 5 years from your decision date. Afterward, the VA may also reevaluate your case if it believes your condition has improved. If they decide to lower your rating, you will have the option to request a hearing within the first 30 days of the notice. You will also have 60 days from the notice to submit supporting evidence.
Is Your VA Rating Ever Protected?
There are actually several circumstances in which your rating is protected and not subject to further future reductions.
- Permanent Disability—If your disability is deemed permanent, then you will not be subject to reductions.
- Stabilized Rating—If you maintain the same rating for 5 years, your rating is considered stabilized. This doesn’t fully prevent rating reductions, but the VA will have to provide significant evidence in order to reduce your rating at that point.
- Continuous Rating—After 20 years with your disability, the VA cannot lower your rating beyond the lowest rating you’ve ever had within that 20 year period.
- Over 55—Once you hit the age of 55, the VA cannot reduce your rating.
Do VA Benefits Ever Stop?
This can be a complicated question as well. There are a few ways that your VA benefits could stop, but they shouldn’t be worrisome to most people. Let’s take a quick look.
- Severance of Disability—This one is rare, but it does happen. If the VA believes that it granted you benefits as the result of a large and clear error or as the result of fraud it can change its ruling and consider your disability to be not service-connected.
- Fugitive Felon—If you become a fugitive felon, meaning that you are fleeing prosecution, custody, or confinement for a felony, your VA benefits will stop immediately. However, they will resume once you are arrested or the warrant is determined to be invalid.
- No longer Disabled—If the VA reduces your disability rating to zero, you will no longer receive monetary compensation. However, a 0% disability rating is still a rating and therefore entitles you to several other benefits including free medical treatment at the VA if income requirements are met.
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