VA Benefit Reductions

 
After a veteran is awarded benefits, they may be under the impression that the hassle of dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is over. However, this is far from the truth. The VA may attempt to lower or take away your benefits if they believe it is necessary to re-evaluate the severity of your condition and will ask you to attend a re-examination. There are several causes to lead the VA to attempt to reduce your benefits.
 

Reductions Due To Incarceration of Jail Time

If a veteran is in local, state or federal prison for more than 60 days while receiving veterans’ disability, the VA can reduce your benefits. If the veteran had a disability rating higher than 20%, the VA might lower your disability rating to 10%.
 

Protection Of Benefits

The VA will attempt to reduce your benefits if you have “unprotected” benefits. Below describes the difference between protected and unprotected disability benefits.

Unprotected Benefits

  • Veteran has a disability rating under 100%
  • Veteran has not been receiving disability benefits for longer than five years

If your condition has shown any sign of improvement and you have unprotected benefits, the VA will try to reduce or terminate your benefits.

Protected Benefits

  • Veteran is permanently disabled with a disability rating of 100%.
  • Veteran is 55 years old or older.
  • Veteran has a static disability. A static disability is a condition that will not improve such as blindness or loss of a limb.
  • Veteran has been receiving disability for longer than 5 years with the same disability rating.
  • Veteran has been receiving disability for longer than 20 years.

Its good to keep in mind that if you are a veteran with protected benefits, the VA can still lower your benefits under certain circumstances. However, this is quite rare because it is much more difficult for the VA to successfully reduce your benefits.
 

VA Re-Examinations

The VA will ask any veteran to attend a re-examination if they feel your disability needs to be re-evaluated. The re-examination is typically a medical examination but in some cases the VA will put you in a period of hospital observation. The VA sends veterans to these examinations or observations to determine if their disability rating and benefits matches the severity of their disability.
 

Scheduled Re-Examinations

After a veteran is awarded benefits, the VA will schedule future re-examinations if your condition is a disability that is expected to improve over time. The VA will evaluate your condition once you are approved to determine if scheduling a future examination is necessary. Usually the first re-examination is scheduled 2 to 5 years from the original date of approval for VA benefits.
 

Notice of Re-Examination

If the VA didn’t schedule a future re-examination with you, they are required by law to inform you in advance that you need to go to a re-examination. Receiving a notice to attend a re-examination means the VA has reviewed your medical files and decided you need to be re-evaluated to ensure your disability still correctly correlates with your disability rating.

From the date you received the notification letter, you have 60 days to submit medical evidence to prove that a reduction is unjust and you have 30 days to request an appeal of the reduction.
 

What Should I Do If The VA Decreased My Benefits?

If the VA decreased your disability benefits because they found your disabling condition has improved, you may later ask for an increase should your disability worsen again. Be cautious and provide all necessary medical evidence while requesting for an increase, not doing so may end up backfiring resulting in a decrease in benefits.