The VA can reduce a veteran’s VA disability rating if it determines that the veteran’s disability has improved. The VA can reduce a disability rating at any time a medical examination indicates improvement – the veteran does not have to file a new claim or file for an increased rating for the VA to reduce a disability rating.
The good news, however, is that the VA must give the veteran notice that it intends to reduce a disability rating and allow the veteran time to respond. It is important for the veteran to attend any requested examinations and provide the VA with any medical records or information tending to support that his or her disability has not actually improved. The VA must also review all of the evidence of record and cannot simply rely upon a one-time examination that is not thorough and that is not consistent with other medical evidence of record.
Although as a general rule the VA can reduce your disability rating at any time, a few exceptions do exist. For example, if a veteran has a disability rating that has been in effect for five years, the disability rating is considered stabilized by the VA. To reduce a rating that has been in effect for five years, the VA has the burden of proving that the veteran’s disability has not only improved, but that the improvement has been sustained.
After ten years, the VA cannot sever service connection unless the original grant of service connection was based on fraud by the veteran or if the veteran did not hold the requisite length of service or character of discharge. The VA can still reduce the disability rating of a disability that has been rated for ten years, but the VA has the burden of showing sustained improvement.
After twenty years, the VA may not reduce a disability rating (whether an individual rating or a combined rating) absent a showing that the rating was based on fraud by the veteran.
If a veteran has a 100% disability rating for a certain condition, (except a 100% rating based on unemployability) the VA cannot reduce the disability rating without an examination that shows material improvement. In addition, the improvement must have occurred while the veteran was working, actively seeking work, or otherwise participating in activities of life such that the veteran would work and continue to maintain improvement in the disabling condition. The 100% rating rule applies even if the disability rating has been in effect for less than five years.
As for individual unemployabiltiy (IU), the VA can reduce a disability rating if the VA has clear evidence that the veteran has experienced a marked improvement and can work or is working. To avoid a reduction, it is important that the veteran timely provide annual certification that he or she has not worked in the past year.
Contact an experienced veterans’ disability attorney at Gardberg &Kemmerly, P.C. today for a free analysis of your case.