Reductions Of Existing Ratings
The Proposal To Reduce Benefits
Chapter 2 - Due Process
- Table of Contents- Updated 9/27/11
- Section A - General Information on Due Process - Updated 8/4/09
- Section B - Notice of Proposed Adverse Action - Updated 8/19/05
- Section C - Adverse Action Proposal Period - Updated 9/27/11
- Section D - Contemporaneous Notice - Updated 8/4/09
- Section E - Exhibits - Updated 8/4/09
Chapter 5 - Appeals
- Table of Contents- Updated 9/27/11
- Section A - General Information on Appeals - Updated 6/18/13
- Section B - Notice of Disagreement (NOD) - Updated 6/18/13
- Section C - Decision Review Office (DRO) Review Process - Updated 3/28/11
- Section D - Statement of the Case (SOC) and Supplement Statement of the Case (SSOC) - Updated 2/6/12
- Section E - Filing a Substantive Appeal - Updated 3/28/11
- Section F - Docketing, Certification, and Claims Folder Transfer - Updated 6/18/13
- Section G - Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) Decisions and Remands - Updated 9/27/11
- Section H - Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) Hearings - Updated 6/18/13
- Section I - Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) - Updated 8/19/05
- Section J - Special Appeal Issues and Cases - Updated 9/27/11
- Section K - Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System (VACOLS) -
A Proposal To Reduce Benefits
I am noticing a lot of
VA "reduction in benefits" complaints on your website, and I was
wondering what, in your opinion, is the best way to avoid reduction in
benefits. I am currently 50% service connected/combat related from injuries sustained in Iraq.
Great question. Thanks for writing.
have no worry. The "proposal of adverse action" to lower a rating
occurs legitimately in many instances. For example, a veteran who has a
cancer (or any other condition) and has treatment that cures the
condition. Most often that is prostate cancer in the Vietnam veteran.
Once cured, there can't be a rating for cancer. There will be a rating
instead for the residuals of treatment such as scarring, loss of
The other vets who have to worry a bit are those
who are TDIU or "100% IU". Each year those vets are required to send in a
form telling VA they have not worked for a salary. VA forgets to send
the forms quite often so the vet doesn't send it in and then gets a
proposal to reduce the benefit.
In the younger veteran, many
conditions like PTSD are purposely awarded as temporary and a review or
"future exam" is scheduled in the veterans VA "future calendar". There
is a reasonable argument to be
made for this as many vets who undergo
intense treatment for mental health conditions do measurable improve.
Much like being rated for a badly broken bone, if the bone is fixed and
there is no measurable
disabling condition left over, there is nothing to assign a rating to.
vets don't get the concept that a rating should reflect the actual
degree of a disabling condition at the present time, not the past or
Older veterans (55 plus) are usually not viewed quite so closely because older folks don't heal as well or quickly.
conditions under close scrutiny are at the 100% level. The 100% rating
is so much higher than 80% or 90% that it's the target that VA is most
interested in reducing.
The goal that veterans should keep in
mind is to establish that their condition is chronic and if it isn't
getting worse, it is at least static. This means keeping doctors
appointments regularly. Check your
medical records through ROI and
ensure that your provider is making appropriate remarks. You should see
plenty of references to your pain or whatever other symptom you have
from your condition.
Vets who have civilian providers should do
much the same and still check in with VA once or twice each year to get
the visits into the health record.
Never skip prescribed physical
therapy, keep prescriptions refilled and so on. If mental health
treatment is prescribed, go to group or individual sessions.
get the idea...building the record is paramount. This will also be a
real plus if you believe your condition is worse in 5 or 10 years. To be
able to document the progression of the disability will ensure
an easier process when you ask VA for an increase of the rating %.
ones who lose most often are those who get 100% and have a party and
never return to VA. Five years later with no records of treatment VA may
assume they are so improved that they no longer need disability pay.
Once that happens, the vet has a big problem.
No matter what you may have been told, VA may at any time propose to reduce your existing rating.
In the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) lexicon, the words Permanent and Total do not mean Permanent and Total.
(This is not unlike 'VA Math where 2 + 2 rarely = 4. See the CRT for more on that.)
that seems wrong, incongruous or foreign to you, if you accept it as a
fact and deal with it, you'll fare better in the future.
In a Proposal of Adverse Action; Reduction of Benefits, your VBA will refer to:
Title 38: Pensions, Bonuses, and Veterans' Relief, PART 3—ADJUDICATION
Subpart A—Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Administrative, § 3.105 Revision of decisions
Within § 3.105 you'll read of the many reasons that may apply to you at any time.
in mind that although some of these seem to be so far removed from your
circumstances that they can't possibly apply to you, VBA makes a lot of
mistakes. Any one of these could happen just when you least expect it.
* Error (Where evidence establishes such error, the prior decision will be reversed or amended.)
* Difference of opinion (...a decision may be revised under §3.2600...)
Character of discharge (A determination as to character of discharge or
line of duty which would result in discontinued entitlement is subject
to the provisions...of this section)
* Reduction in
evaluation—compensation (Where the reduction in evaluation of a
service-connected disability or employability status is considered
warranted and the lower evaluation would result in a reduction or
discontinuance of compensation payments currently being made, a rating
proposing the reduction or discontinuance will be prepared setting forth
all material facts and reasons.)
* Reduction in
evaluation—pension (Where a change in disability or employability
warrants a reduction or discontinuance of pension payments currently
being made, a rating proposing the reduction or discontinuance will be
prepared setting forth all material facts and reasons.)
Reduction in evaluation—monetary allowance under 38 U.S.C. chapter 18
for certain individuals who are children of Vietnam veterans (Where a
reduction or discontinuance of a monetary allowance currently being paid
under 38 U.S.C. chapter 18 is considered warranted, VA will notify the
beneficiary at his or her latest address of record of the proposed
* Other reductions/discontinuances (Except as
otherwise specified at §3.103(b)(3) of this part, where a reduction or
discontinuance of benefits is warranted by reason of information
received concerning income, net worth, dependency, or marital or other
status, a proposal for the reduction or discontinuance will be prepared
setting forth all material facts and reasons.)
So much for that "permanent" designation, right?
Only when you've held your rating continuously for 20 years are you in a "protected" category.
§ 3.951 Preservation of disability ratings.
A disability which has been continuously rated at or above any
evaluation of disability for 20 or more years for compensation purposes
under laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs will not
be reduced to less than such evaluation except upon a showing that such
rating was based on fraud. Likewise, a rating of permanent total
disability for pension purposes which has been in force for 20 or more
years will not be reduced except upon a showing that the rating was
based on fraud. The 20-year period will be computed from the effective
date of the evaluation to the effective date of reduction of evaluation.