Can the VA Reduce Your Disability Benefits?

When you are awarded a VA Service-Connected Disability rating, the VA retains the right to reexamine you to determine if your disability is still present and warrants the original rating. In short, it is possible for the VA to increase, reduce, or terminate, disability benefits based on a reexamination. But don’t let this scare you: not every veteran’s disability rating is scheduled for a reexamination, and not every rating will change.

For example, some service-connected disability ratings are considered protected, and will not be changed. Veterans with a P&T Rating (Permanent and Total) will usually not be scheduled for a reexamination. The same thing goes for injuries that are considered permanent or static. These include injuries that will never change, such as a missing limb.

Let’s take a look at VA Reexaminations to better understand the details of why, when, and how, the VA reexamines disability ratings, and whether or not your rating will be reviewed in the future. And if your VA disability rating is reviewed, keep in mind reviews work both ways: they can increase or decrease your rating, depending on supporting evidence and documentation.

Why the VA Reexamines Veterans with a Service-Connected Disability Rating

The why is easy to answer. Not all medical conditions are permanent. Some injuries heal over time, at least to some degree. The VA wants to ensure they are compensating you for your injuries at an appropriate rate. When you are assigned a disability rating, the VA also determines if they will want to reexamine you in the future. This typically only happens for injuries that have a reasonable expectation of improving over time. Reexaminations are usually scheduled within two to five years after the initial examinations, or they can take place any time there is material evidence in your change of condition. You will receive a Reexamination Letter detailing what will take place, and when.

Notice of Reexamination

The VA must send you a reexamination letter before they can change your service-connected disability rating. It’s essential that you attend this appointment, or work to reschedule it for a better time. If you don’t attend the appointment or provide supporting evidence for your case, the VA can reduce or terminate your benefits. The Notice of Reexamination should include contact information where you can reschedule your appointment if necessary.

The VA may send a Notice of Reexamination at  pre-scheduled interval (such as the aforementioned two to five years), or when they have material evidence there has been a change in your medical condition. This could be evidence that your situation has improved or disappeared. You have 30 days to request a hearing if you wish to contest the VA decision, and you have up to 60 days to submit evidence that a reduction in your rating is not warranted.

Keep in mind, the VA cannot reduce your service-connected disability rating without first sending you notice. Failure to do so on their end should result in a full reinstatement of your benefits.

When the VA Will Not Schedule You for a Reexamination

The VA will typically not request to reexamine your rating under the following conditions:

  • The veteran is over age 55.
  • The disability is static (such as a loss of limb).
  • The disability is considered permanent and is not expected to improve (e.g. blindness, deafness).
  • The disability is already at a minimum rating for that particular disability.
  • Reducing an individual rating would not affect the total combined disability rating.

These conditions are significant. The VA will not schedule are reexamination for permanent and static disabilities, so you can safely assume those ratings will remain the same. Age 55 is significant because it represents an age at which the VA assumes the veteran is too old to reasonably reenter the workforce (keep in mind VA disability ratings represent your ability to perform work at the level you were able to before you had the injury while you were serving in the military).

Finally, the VA will not look to reduce your VA disability rating when reducing one rating wouldn’t have a material impact on your overall disability rating. This applies to veterans with multiple medical conditions and disability ratings.

If you have been contacted by the VA to have your case reexamined and you meet any of the above criteria, then contact them with the phone number listed on your Notice of Reexamination and explain why you do not believe you should be reexamined. You may be able to have the reexamination canceled. The VA will not usually be able to reduce your disability rating without a reexamination, so your rating should be safe if you meet any of the above criteria.

Protected VA Disability Ratings

Certain VA disability benefits are considered Protected Ratings, according to the VA (though others say the term “protected” is a misnomer). This is where it helps to be able to find and read the appropriate regulations, or find an expert who can help you through the task. Here is a document that quotes some of the ratings protections for the 10 and 20 year rules (Word doc on VA site).

  • 5 year rule: If the rating has been in effect for 5 years, it cannot be reduced unless your condition has improved on a sustained basis (The VA must have documentation supporting this is a permanent improvement).
  • 10 year rule: A service connected disability rating cannot be terminated if it has been in effect for 10 years. Compensation can be reduced if evidence exists that the condition has improved. The sole exception is if the VA can prove fraud, in which case the VA can terminate the benefits.
  • 20 year rule: If the rating has been in effect for 20 years, it cannot be reduced below the lowest rating it has held for the previous 20 years. The only exception is if the VA can prove fraud.
  • 100% rule: The VA must prove your medical situation has materially improved and as a result, you are able to perform substantial work.

What do these protected ratings mean? Basically, if you have had a VA service-connected disability rating for 5 years or more, the VA must prove your condition has improved on a sustained basis before they can reduce or  terminate your disability rating. After 10 years, the VA can only reduce your rating; they cannot terminate it (absent proof of fraud). After 20 years, your rating cannot be reduced below the lowest rating you have held for the last 20 years. These distinctions are important, because some ratings can vary over the years, based on the medical condition.

For example, let’s say you have a knee injury that warrants a 30% disability rating when you complete your initial VA evaluation. After 5 years, the VA cannot reduce this rating below 30% unless they can prove the injury has healed on a sustained basis. If it has improved to the point the injury warrants a lower rating, or the injury no longer exists, the benefit can be reduced or terminated. After 10 years, the benefit can no longer be terminated, but it can be reduced if the VA can document substantial sustained health improvements. After 20 years at that rating, your benefit can no longer be reduced below its lowest rating or terminated (unless there is proof of fraud).

The 100% rule is much more difficult to have decreased. The VA must prove your health has materially improved, and you are now able to perform substantial work. If all of your injuries still leave you unemployable, then it is likely your benefit will not be reduced. Most veterans with a 100% rating have one or more major service-connected medical conditions, and possibly additional multiple less-severe injuries. The VA must prove the veteran is able to perform substantial work even with this assortment of medical conditions.

Reducing Your Disability Rating – VA Must Prove Change in Condition

The VA needs to establish substantial evidence of a change in condition before any change can occur to your service-connected disability rating. This puts the onus of the work on them. But you still need to be proactive to protect your rating. If the VA sends you a Notice of Reexamination, you need to show up for your scheduled appointment, or reschedule it, if possible. If you miss your scheduled appointment, the VA can reduce or terminate your rating without additional warning. Reestablishing your rating could take some time, or may be impossible, barring a legitimate reason for missing the appointment.

You can also request a hearing if the VA wishes to reduce your rating. You may find it helpful to enlist the help of a lawyer or your own medical professionals. You will want to ensure you have sufficient documentation to support your claims – whether you believe the rating should remain the same, or if it should be increased.

A Reexamination is Not the End of the World

A Notice of Reexamination can actually result in an increased disability rating if the situation warrants it. The VA will not go out of their way to increase your benefits rating for you. However, if the situation is warranted by your examination, then they will increase your disability rating. Keep this in mind if you are scheduled for a reexamination. It’s also important to understand that requesting an increase in disability ratings can result in a decrease if the VA can prove your medical condition has improved over time.

Bottom line: A VA disability rating is not always a static rating that will remain unchanged over the course of your lifetime. Your rating may remain unchanged, but it could also increase or decrease, depending on circumstances. If you feel there is a problem with your rating, it is best to find someone who specializes in VA disability claims and see if you can get them to help you with your claim.

Print Friendly
Date published: April 1, 2014.

Article by

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. lonnie anthony says

    Im just had am exam last one was six years ago… I currently ‘receive 100 payment due to being unemployable…I’ve been rated this way for six yeat s. After getting my exam back im worried I could be reduced…because the examiners report didn’t mention that my knees were still unstable…is it possible a reduction could take place …I was also diagnosed with mmd. Which probably will help but im still concerned due to wording of exam…

    • says

      Lonnie, I don’t have much personal experience here. My recommendation is to find a Veterans Service Officer at a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc. They offer free claims assistance and can help you with your claim. It’s best to hit this head on so you aren’t caught off guard. The sooner you began building your case, the better. Here are some resources for finding a VSO. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  2. Bruce Reed says

    I work with veterans and this article is very helpful for synthesizing the data. Can you provide us with a link to where you found this information?

  3. Shequira Callahan says

    I, currently, receive a 10% disability rating for my back. I have been receiving this rating for 13+ years. I wanted to know whether or not I can get re-evaluated being that my condition hasn’t improved?

  4. Dan Bandy says

    i have been total permanent since dec 01 100% ptsd i got a letter they are reducing me to 50% ptsd because 1) the doctor said i am full time daycare fore my grandson 2) that i write poetry 3) i am a photographer for a metal detecting club how can they do this? i answered them with 1)i only watch my grandson when my daughter get called into work she gets little notice so i watch him till she gets someone to come get him never more than 2 hours 2) i do write poetry but i have spent 90 days in 7 different va hospitals for combat ptsd all inpatient in these last 14 years so because its been 8 years since my last i am ok are they crazy they told me to write it helps they say will they have not seen what i write it all about the war ugly side and killing 3)i have never been in or in contact with any metal detecting club d

    • says

      Jimmy, Yes, you can apply for an increase in disability compensation. My advice is to work with a Veterans Service Organization to get assistance with your claim. They generally offer free VA benefits claims assistance. Here are some recommended organizations:

      Keep in mind that when you refile your claim the VA will likely review your entire claim and it may be possible that some of your current disabilities may be downgraded. a veterans Service Officer can give you more information when you speak with him/her.

  5. says

    I am a 68 year old Vietnam veteran that has prostate cancer. After waiting many months go get in to see the doctor at our local VA clinic, finally, in January 2013 I got an appointment. When my blood tests came back my PSA was at 100. They did another PSA test one week later and it had gone up to 155. I went though many tests and scans at the VA hospital. And even though I had a very high PSA, the scans all came back that the cancer was only in my prostate gland. I was awarded 100% disability in March of 2013 along with SMC-K in April 2014. I went through 40 radiation treatments and am now on Eligard shots every 3 months. These shots have side effects which include hot flashes and night sweats. But they have reduced my PSA down to 0.1. I am to remain on these shots for a few more months and then the doctors want me to stop with the shots to see what my PSA will do. My eBenefits web page has the following two statements.
    You are not considered to be permanently disabled due to your service-connected disabilities because your case is scheduled for
    review on: January 1, 2015
    You are not considered to be permanently disabled due to your service-connected disabilities at this time because you are scheduled for a future reduction in rating on: January 1, 2015
    My question is this: Will I remain at 100% disability as long as I am taking these shots, which I consider as active treatment for cancer. Or will the VA reduce these benefits since my PSA is now very low?
    No one seems to know the answer to this question.
    Thank you.

  6. Mary says

    Galen, your story and my husbands is almost identical! He received the implant/shot for 3 yrs and got full benefits during that time. Once he was reviewed, 6 mns after last shot, the benefit was drastically reduced. We are praying the cancer is truly gone and watching his numbers like hawks!! Personally, I feel they made the decision too quickly, he still had the medicine in his system that stopped testosterone production, doesn’t seem like results would be valid. I hope you stay well. It certainly can be a roller coaster ride!

  7. Todd says

    When I Got out of the Air Force I received a 40% rating for Degenerate disk disease. I think this diagnosis is a generic one because I think I have a damaged nerve but I was talked out of perusing it. I’ve had a few treatments but for the most part was told it was something I would have to learn to deal with and it would never get better, its been 13 years and I have learned to deal with it. My last eval 2 months ago the doctor ask a few questions and asked me if I wanted to get new xrays and a MRI because my old ones where out of date, then warned me that with the new technology the new ones could should that because of my age now (37) that my rating could be decreased. So he advised against the new x-rays and MRI. Then he asked me to bend forward and back and tell him when it hurts like they always ask and sent me on my way. Sometimes they put a tool on my back to measure the percent I can bend with out pain ( not much). Two weeks later, which is the fastest the VA has ever replied to me, I got a letter stating that my last to evals show improvement so they are reducing my % to 10 present. Im dumb founded. My back is just as bad as ever, I just have learned to deal with the pain and how not to agitate it. Who can I contact to help me challenge this? I don’t have money for a lawyer and I have about 30 days left before they adjust my rating.. Then.. two week later I get a letter from the VA that they are increasing the rate of pay for some disability’s here soon. This just all sounds weird to me.

      • maczilla says

        LOL don’t go anywhere near DAV. All they did was file my initial claim and take my money, and after that, I can’t get them to call me or email me. NOTHING. They ignore me like the plaque. I have left so many messages with the lady in houston and I never get a call back.. So typical for them to prey on us like that

        • says

          The DAV provides free veterans benefits claims assistance, as stated in their mission statement: “Providing free, professional assistance to veterans and their families in obtaining benefits and services earned through military service and provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other agencies of government.”

          Perhaps you joined as a member, or made a donation?

          As for them not returning a phone call, perhaps try calling another DAV office and explaining the situation to see if you can get assistance from another representative. There are many claims officers, and many of them are overworked, and underpaid (or not paid at all, as many are volunteers).

  8. tito says

    Help?? I will apply for an increase next month i need an opinion, is this letter properly done as a request? ?

    DEAR Sir or MADAM:

    I am currently rated for (lumbosacral strain, bulging disc at L5-S1) at 20%

    My condition has severely decrease and getting worse since it was first awarded. My back injury has kept bothering me over the past couple months, preventing me from physical therapy sessions and has forced me to stop working as of November 25,2014. I am no longer working due to the fact that my pain has dramatically increase and my range of motion has been severely affected, since I went from a bulging disc to herniated discs on L4-L5 and S5-L1 and some wear and tear around the same area has been discovered, as you will see in my new MRI reading. My pain fluctuates from ” 8 to 9 ” on a daily basis it completely affects my range of motion and daily chores. At times I need help getting out of bed and with daily chores since I cannot bend foward more than 30 degrees. I have also experienced small lost of bladder and bowel control and sharp pains going through my right leg and hip with some numbness and tingling sensation. Since my right leg is weak at times, it forces me to put more pressure on my left leg hurting my left knee sprain again in a few occasions. I have taken all kinds of medications that the VA doctors gave me for inflammation and pain and nothing helps. All I can do for now is to continue to go to my appointments at the VA hospital and explore the back surgery options in my future, since the doctors say that it seems to be the next step in my case. I have compare my current condition to that listed in the schedule for rating disabilities and I see that It would be more appropriate that I would now be rated at 40% .

    I am applying for that rating increase.

    Thank you for your time and consideration of my request.

    My name

  9. lenny says

    Greetings. I am scheduled for my 1st exam. It will be 5 years since the initial exam. Out of curiosity, what would warrant the VA needing to keep a vet in the hospital for examination? Thanks in advance.

  10. Geraldine Trumbo says

    My husband received a 70% rating based on Agent Orange presumptives in September. During the course of his VA exams, a doctor found a suspicious growth. Told him to get it checked. It is a lung cancer tumor. So he went back to the VA and filed another paper for 100% disability. He should be entitled to 100% as long as he is being treated for the lung cancer and 6 months after treatment ends. My question is how long does it take before they give him 100% and what kind of back pay (if any) can he expect? He was told just the one paper he filed is sufficient for them to give the 100% rating.

    • says

      Geraldine, I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s cancer. I pray he will recover. Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact answer to your question, because each case is handled separately. But here is the process as I understand it:

      The first step is for the veteran to file the new claim seeking 100% disability. That starts the clock for the increased pay rate. Once the VA approves the new disability rating request, they will send out an award letter stating the new disability rate. The increased payments generally start a month or two after the award letter is sent. The veteran will normally receive back pay to the date they filed for the increased disability rating. (Back pay is normally paid out shortly after the award letter is sent, but it will probably be in a separate payment from the monthly compensation).

      This is the general series of events, but keep in mind each case is unique, so it may vary somewhat. I hope this helps, and again, I will be praying for your husband’s health.

  11. Adrienne Schroeder says

    My husband got out of the military in 2005 with degenerative disk disease and was rated 20%. He requested a re-evaluation last year and they increased him to 40% due to radiculopathy that was not present when he was first rated( he should have requested the re-eval years ago). He has contemplated surgery for years and is in more pain then ever. We are going to meet with a civilian doctor next week as he does not want the VA doing the surgery. My first question is how do we find out if the doctor or hospital that is going to do the surgery is approved by the VA. Second, does surgery automatically change his rating. If he applies for 100% temp disability what happens to his rating after that? TIA

    • says

      Adrienne, Thank you for contacting me. To be honest, this isn’t a question I can answer. You will need to contact the VA for specific information to your husband’s case. Only the VA will be able to tell you if the surgery is approved or not. Regarding his rating, no, the surgery will not automatically change his rating. He may be able to apply for temporary 100% rating, but that is not automatic; it would need to be approved. He would then be reevaluated after his surgery to determine his new rating. It may go back to 40%, or it may be something different. The VA will rate it based on how his condition compares to the documented VA standards.

      You may consider speaking with a Veterans Service Officer for more experience working with these kinds of claims. I hope this helps. Best of luck, and I hope the surgery improves your husband’s condition!

  12. Adrienne Schroeder says

    Sorry you misunderstood my question. The VA has offered surgery he is just choosing to do it with a civilian doctor and my question was how do we find out if the doctor or hospital is approved by the VA. The Convalescence VA eligibility requirement specifically states: You must have had a surgical or other treatment performed by a VA or other approved hospital or outpatient facility for a service-connected disability. Thanks anyway, I am trying to reach the VA but every time I call they tell me to call at a better time.

    • says

      Thanks for the clarification, Adrienne. I know it’s frustrating, but I would continue trying to contact the VA to get the information for approved doctors and hospitals. This is something that needs to be done by the book. If you need to, contact the VA scheduling department and try to schedule an appointment just to get a referral or get the information you need. Best of luck!

  13. Anthony Fuentes says

    Hello the VA is trying to lower my benefits. They sent me a notice that they wanted to do a reevaluation appointment. I was in school on all the days that they tried to schedule for me. I could not make it to the appointment times they gave me. They then sent me a letter saying that they were going to drop my benefits from 60% to 40% based off of nothing. They haven’t reevaluated me and they are just telling me my condition is improving with no evidence that it has. I broke my back in a car accident that is the reason for my mechanical back pain. My mechanical back pain has not improved at all. How do I dispute the VA decision. I know I can I just don’t really know how.

    • says

      Anthony, to fight this process, you will need to contact the VA to explain that you couldn’t miss school for the reevaluation appointments, then request they reevaluate you. It is highly recommended you get some one on one assistance with this process. The best place to go is a Veterans Service Officer. Many organizations who offer free benefits claims assistance (DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc.). I hope this points you in the right direction. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  14. Jeff says

    Is the VA allowed to pull over a years worth of medical records indicating a disability and then reduce your claim to 10% vs 30% because there are no records in my jacket, like they did to me under the Reagon austerity years and cost cutting? All medical records in my jacket are missing from tbe Naval hospital on the Navy base in Norfolk. Every sigle one 1974 1975 vanished… bet there still in hospital records somewhere!!!

  15. Marsha Emerson says

    My husband us a viet nam vet and was in the middle if agent orange. He gets disability for pstd and diabetis. His va dr also said he has narapathy. He was considered 60 per cent disabeled. The va sent him for a nerve test and said he does not have nerapathy. They sent a letter his benefits would be cut. He saw his va counsler and he gave my husband papers to take to a regular dr of which he sent him do another nerve test it to showed no nerve damage but both the regular dr and the the dr who did the nerve test said it was due to chemicals from agent orange. My husband took that to his va rep who submitted this. The va still cut his benefits while this process is on going . My question is can they do this. Thank you and I wait for a reply. Marsha emerson

    • says

      Marsha, Based on my understand, yes, the VA can reduce a disability rating if they believe the evidence supports it. In this situation, their doctors stated the medical condition isn’t as it was originally rated, so they changed the rating. It is up to the veteran to show supporting evidence that the condition was caused by a condition that occurred while in the military. So your husband will need to resubmit the medical documents from his doctors. The VA will review those documents, and make a decision. It sounds like you have done everything the right way, and now you are simply waiting on the appeal that has already been submitted. I hope this turns out well for your husband, and more importantly, I hope he is able to receive treatment that will help improve his health.

  16. Ben says

    I am a Disabled Vet of wartime at 40%. Navy. None of my rating is for ptsd. I hurt myself at home ( accidently cut artery in wrist fixing frozen burst pipe ). It was a very horrific scene for me, my wife, and 3yo son. Lots of blood loss. passing in and out. Had emergency vascular surgery and stayed in hospital a couple of days. I am now off work for a couple months due to not being able to pick anything up with the affected wrist. Since then I am having a lot of problems sleepings and staying asleep. I cant stop basically reliving what happened over and over. I cant stop thinking of it. Its affecting my marriage and relationships with children. I seem to always be on a very short fuse. I constantly catch myself on the verge of tears ( I am not one to show emotions )and bad panic attacks. I want to be alone close to the entire time im awake. I went to my family doctor and was put on welbutrin xl and klonopin. They basically only help by keeping me tired all day it seems. Not exactly the way I want to live the rest of my life. I want to talk to the VA about this, but have read many horror storys of going in and then having your rating dropped. I am not looking to have my rating raised. I just want to make sure that I am not a danger to my family or friends. I’m the type that is very used to just sucking it up and dealing with it, ( never even took 1 pain pill after surgery ), but now my wife feels my reactions to certain things that arise are a little extreme. Adding that I worked out problems differently before the accident.

    • says

      Ben, Thank you for contacting me. I’m happy to hear you are seeking treatment for your condition. That is the most important thing you can do, regardless of what else happens with your VA disability rating.

      Did you injury occur while you were in the military? If it is not service related, then I wouldn’t go to the VA, because they most likely will not treat you for conditions that are not service-related (unless you meet the income requirements). Alternatives would be seeking professional help from your current medical provider, or those that are covered on your insurance plan.

      If this is a service-related condition, then you have a decision to make. If you don’t want the VA to reevaluate your other conditions, then you might consider paying out of pocket or using your other health insurance plan if you have one. That keeps this and your other conditions out of the VA spotlight.

      If this is a service-related condition, and you d not have access to other health care or you cannot afford to go elsewhere, then by all means, go to the VA. There is a process the VA must follow for reevaluations, and they can’t drop your rating without cause. If your conditions are scheduled to be reevaluated, you will have time to get examinations and present your case. You can always contact a Veterans Service Organization for assistance with your claim (DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc.). I hope you will be able to get past this issue and regain full health.

  17. Ben says

    And I forgot to mention that I have loss continuous from just telling the story to a friend in a very graphic way. I just refuse to believe that that is normal.

  18. Jeff says

    Ryan Guina, I was Hoping foolishly for a reply on the 29 Jan post… can I buy some vowels love this smart phone..

  19. Stephen McQuaig says

    I recently requested an increase from 20 percent on my back. I just had my C&P exam and I got a copy of it. Every item EXCEPT my forward flexion was 0 to 15 degrees. ..forward flexsion was notated as 0 to 30. This ROM is significatly less than my original back exam a few years back. The examiner also noted that thia disablity affected my ability to work. I have had a hard trying to calculate was percentage I should be getting for my back with the new findings and new ROM. Please help.

    • says

      Stephen, Thank you for contacting me. I don’t have a way of calculating disability scores based on exam results. You may try speaking with a Veterans Service Officer, who may be able to give you more insight into how the process works, and the potential rating you may receive.

  20. Alex W says

    So I’m a little confused maybe you could help clarify. To my understanding, the VA cannot lower a SC Rating below 10%, so for example if I had my left knee rated at 10% (the minimum rating for this injury), it could not be lowered to 0% after a reexamination? Is that correct? I’m curious because I just got off Army active duty and received my award letter for 40% combined rating. The break down is 10% each for 4 different injuries, plus 2 more injuries are still pending decision from what the award letter says. So my question is, if and when I get scheduled for a reexamination in the future, since all 4 of my rated disabilities are at the minimum rating (10%) for their category, could I be considered “protected” in the sense that the VA cannot lower any of the SC Rating below 10%? I’m just worried that I will lose my 40% combined rating that I just got. Thanks for your help.

    • says

      Alex, I’m not familiar with the reg that states a service connected disability cannot be lowered to 0%. I recommend scheduling a visit with a Veterans Service Officer or a VA representative so you can ask any questions you may have about your ratings and the benefits you are eligible to receive. They should be able to give you a better idea of what to expect.

  21. S Davis says

    My father in law receives benefits for 10% and has since the 60’s. He told me for years he had sezures. He is now 69 yrs old and does not/can not work. What do we need to do to see if he is eligible to receive additional benefits? I know nothing about the military benefits—and he knows nothing about technology so it’s the blind leading the blind! Any help would be appreciated.

    • says

      S Davis, Thank you for contacting me. The best way to see if he is eligible for additional benefits is to have him go through a veterans benefits evaluation with a Veterans Service Organization. Many of them offer free veterans benefits claims assistance, and the officers are trained to methodically go through the veteran’s file to determine which benefits the veteran may be eligible to receive. Then they can help the veteran actually make the claim. Some recommended VSOs include the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), etc.

      Another avenue may be for your father-in-law to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if he is unable to work. Here is some basic information on SSDI. He would need to contact the local Social Security office for more information on applying for SSDI benefits. I hope this is helpful. Best of luck!

  22. Randy says

    I was rated 2 1/2 years ago. 70% SC P&T IU FOR PTSD, BI-POLAR, anxiety, PANIC ATTACKS W/agraphobia.
    I was told a few days ago the i should be getting paid at SMC s. Because I dont leave my home often because of the agraphobia. Under Bradley vs ?..
    Be cause of the IU rule… thanks

    • says

      Randy, To be honest, this is outside the scope of my expertise. I strongly recommend seeking assistance from someone with experience filing these types of claims. Your best bet would be to contact a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, VFW, American Legion, etc. Many of these organizations have trained benefits counselors and offer free benefits claims assistance. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  23. Jennifer says

    If you are rated at 100% unemployable can you still have a part time job. I am working full time and get 80% and my condition is worsening making it hard for me to work full time. If I request an increase in disability and they award 100% I am afraid the compensation would not be sufficient to pay what is needed and would need to supplement that income with a part time job. Is this allowed?

    • says

      Jennifer, Thank you for contacting me. There are two different 100% ratings: 100% Schedular, and 100% (IU) Individual Unemployability. You can still work a job without income limitation if you have a 100% Schedular rating. However, there are income limitations if you have a 100% IU ratings. If you are 100% IU and you earn more than a certain amount, the VA may reduce your disability rating.

      I recommend speaking with a benefits rep at the VA or at a Veterans Service Organization to understand your disability rating and how having a job would affect your rating (if at all). Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  24. KitKat says


    I am currently 100% UI and because of where I live and cost of living, I had to work. I contacted the VA to let them know I was working, and they gave me notice they will reduce my benefits to 90%. I applied to increase my benefits, and just finished my medical examinations, but i am so nervous because my other disabilities may not increase enough to equate to 100% Should I contact my Vet Rep to let him know my situation? I have 70% off PTSD alone, but was told that may not increase. Just so frustrated and depressed right now.

  25. logan says

    VA scheduled a c&p exam. I missed my appointment at a non VA clinic for my c&p exam. Then VA sent a letter saying they might lower my 100% rating to 50% because I did not go to the c&p exam.

    I called the 1 800 VA number and received a callback. I told the VA lady why i had missed my appointment and requested another c&p appointment. We talked for about an hour about my medical issues. she was nice and told me to stay off the streets because I am vulnerable. I’ve been in and out of VA hospitals and public hospitals because of my medical conditions.

    Will my c&p appointment be rescheduled? If so, when?

    After talking with her, my feeling is that the nice VA lady heard all she needed to hear from me about my medical problems and what my life is like nowadays when we spoke over the phone. She seemed to not need and want me to go to another c&p exam. Especially one where I will need to travel far away from home. My rating is still 100%. God bless us all.

    • says

      Logan, Thank you for contacting me. I’m sorry to hear about your disability and your missed appointment. To be honest, I can’t give you any specific information regarding getting your appointment rescheduled. That information will have to come from the VA. The best thing to do is follow up with them and try to reschedule your appointment if required.

  26. DJC says

    Hi, Ryan. Just received a decision on my Agent Orange related prostate cancer evaluation, with an assigned disability of 100%. I had used the appeal process, since 2005, when I was first evaluated. Originally evaluated as service connected disability, with 0%. I will be receiving a retro-active amount,soon. The findings also remarked that a decision not to grant compensation was a clear and unmistakable error, indicatingthat these errors are’ undebatable ‘. Will be age 67, in a few months. Will I be susceptible to frequent re-examination ? Or, as you mentioned, my age will be a consideration, not to be. Thank you in advance. DJC

    • Sharon Haig says

      My husband now 70 was diagnosed with prostate cancer and we went to the VA and gal filing claim said automatically get 100% temporary for one year, then decreases to 20%? Why would they do that and are you getting 100% for prostate cancer more than the initial one year?

  27. Nancy Winningham says

    Hi, I hope you are still answering questions on this thread. My husband has had a 100% VA disability due to losing his eyesight in the military. This was over 20 years ago. However, if he were to have a surgery that could possibly restore his eyesight, and if it were to be successful, would he lose his VA benefit? There are new procedures on the horizon that are promising for optic nerve atrophy and we would like to explore them. He is currently working, but losing the VA benefits would definitely change our lifestyle. (Of course, I would rather he get his eyesight, but I don’t want him to hesitate to explore this because of the possibility of losing those benefits.)
    Thank you so much

    • says

      Nancy, Thank you for contacting me. This is a unique situation, and one I don’t have a firm answer to. The VA can reduce benefits when there has been substantial and permanent change to a rated health condition. But there is no way for me to know how this would affect his rating in the long run. I’m sure it depends on many factors, including to the degree to which his eyesight would improve, whether or not both eyes are affected, and other circumstances.

      I recommend speaking with a veterans benefits counselor to see if they have experience with claims being reduced due to improvements or changes in a health condition, and see if they can make any qualified statements about this specific situation. Beyond that, I would continue looking into all possible avenues for improving your husband’s health. Money is nice, but you can’t replace your health. I wish you and your husband the best!

  28. John Locklair says

    Quick Question. I am currently going through the IDES pilot system through the Air Force. I got my ratings back from the VA and I was rated at 100%. The VA rep on base told me I would get re-evaluated for Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety, which was rated at 70%. He told me that I would get re-evaluated only one time between 6 months – 5 years after being separated. Does this information sound right?

    • says

      John, Thank you for contacting me. I can’t speak for the re-evaluation for your specific condition, but yes, it sounds right. The VA retains the right to re-evaluate veterans’ service-connected conditions within a certain time frame. They may use different schedules for different conditions, and there may be times when they get backed up and do not schedule the reevaluation. (I am not saying you won’t be scheduled, just noting that I know several people who were never reevaluated by the VA).

      I highly encourage you to go to a re-evaluation appointment if you receive a Re-evaluation Letter from the VA, otherwise the VA may change your rating based on lack of supporting evidence. It would then be up to you to appeal the decision and apply to have your rating reinstated. It’s easier to go to the meeting when scheduled. I hope this is helpful, and I wish you the best of luck with your medical conditions and your transition!

  29. jack says

    I am 100% ptsd..single rating…for over 10 yrs…I am also rated 60% for heart and 20% for type 2 diabetes. My Ptsd rating is permanent and total. I am in late sixteys. No part of my ptsd is unemployable. . Are there any restrictions regarding employment… I heard a 100% ptsd rating does not allow any employment…can you advise….Thank You

    • Archie M Custodio says

      Hi you said you were 100% PTSD for 10 years, during those 10 years did they send you for a medical re-examination to continue to receive benefits?

  30. Jimmy Carpenter says

    I was hurt during service and was medically retired honorably. I never was sent to the VA and found out 15ys after I was suppose to be going to the VA. I did go in and they did find my DD214 as a medical condition that made it impossible for me to serve. They then determined that someone could have pushed the paperwork though without my knowledge. The VA at that time said I am 40% disabled. I never tried to get them to go back the 15yrs I was not receiving benefits, I just wanted them to help me. I just found out today that a benefit was decreased while another increased still leaving me at 40%. What I went in for was to look at increasing both injuries due to the fact they both have gotten worse. In over 20yrs it has never been better, so how can they say one is better even after the doctors have said “due to the arthritis that is set in it will only get worse. I don’t know what to do or who can help.

  31. michael virgin says

    Ryan Guina thanks for answering people’s questions here but I feel like asking a question here will just get the same answer you give to everyone else. It seems like you really have no anwers except to tell us to talk to a VA benefit Counsler. I would love to , I wonder if you know if VA benefit Counsler’s are willing to make home visits so I do not need to go outside or in public. Panic Attacks are not fun and hospitals are even less fun for me do to my condition at this time.

    • says

      Michael, Thank you for contacting me. I do my best to answer specific questions when possible, as you can see by reading many of the other articles on this site. However, this specific topic is not one that I can easily answer because almost every question is unique and requires one-on-one attention and specific research into the individual’s benefits, when/where they served, medical records, and additional information I do not have, nor would I be authorized to review. So for this specific topic, I can cover the basic details, but unfortunately, I can’t give much individual assistance on specific claims.

      Regarding your question, I spoke on the phone with a VA Benefits counselor and she said you would need to contact your Regional VA Medical Center for more information about availability. Because you have experienced panic attacks, she recommended contacting the Mental Health Department, and they may offer house calls. I’m not certain if house calls are available in all locations – the VA Rep I spoke with said it is on a case by case basis. Here is the VA medical center directory.

      So again, I gave you the same answer I give many people on this article, but it wasn’t from lack of trying. I hope this points you in the right direction, and I wish you the best in your health. Thank you for your service!

  32. chris says

    I am retired navy and have combined rating at 100%,(70% for mental health and 80% for others). My re-examination date is after 5 years, which is 01/30/2020.

    My question is: if I don’t go to my appointments for mental health, are they going to lower or terminate my rating within 5 years or before 01/30/2020?

    I read your information, it says VA must have: “material that showing my condition is improved.” If I don’t go to my appointment, that they won’t have any material showing I am improved, so they can’t decrease my rating within the 5 years, right??


    • says

      Chris, the VA can lower your rating if you don’t show for your appointment. At that point it’s up to you to prove your condition has not improved. My strong recommendation is to go to any and all scheduled appointments, or be prepared for a battle to keep your benefits.

    • Archie M Custodio says

      How did you know firsthand the date of your medical re-examination? Did the VA inform you right away, Chris?

  33. Anonymous says

    I’m having a problem with the VA now, they are cutting my disability benefits in half because i failed to show up for the evaluation. I called and the lady at the VA told me that i should do a reconsideration letter. Is that the best thing to do instead of an appeal? She said it was faster than an appeal but she put down that my address had changed so i didnt get the notification as evidence for the reconsideration for evaluation. However i didnt EVER recieve any form from the VA of my scheduled appointments. I was under the impression that they are supposed to send you a scheduling letter. Shouldn’t that be evidence as well? How am i supposed to make it to an appointment that i know nothing about. I’m pretty frustrated at this point but what can i do? I just don’t want to get ******* over so any advice would be helpful.

    • says

      Hello, Thank you for contacting me. I don’t have any personal experience with this situation – I know the basics of how the process works, but I haven’t dealt with an appeal or reconsideration. In this case it seems like the reconsideration might be the faster way to go, but I can’t say for certain.

      You may find it helpful to speak with a veterans benefits counselor at a service organization such as the DAV, VFW, etc. Many organizations provide free benefits claims assistance and the counselors not only have the expertise and experience you need, but they may also have personal connections at the VA that may help your case get resolved more quickly. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  34. Archie M Custodio says

    To: Mr. Ryan Guina, Sir I am 100% Disabled VA Veteran P&T. Do you know how long before the VA can send me for a medical re-evaluation? Is it 5 years, 10 years, 15 years?

  35. pat says

    My husband was rated in 2010, service connected Agent Orange 100 % p & t scheduler for CLL, no future exams and secondary diabetes and neuropathy. He receives smc-s.
    I understand that CLL rating has changed this year -0 % watch stage, and rate on residuals for anemia. He has had one set -6 months of chemo and will probably begin a different medication in Jan 2016.He sees onocologist every 4 months. Can his 100 % be reduced? Or does he retain his status, based on the ruling at time of his rating? He is 69 1/2 yrs old. Thank you.

    • says

      Pat, Thank you for contacting me. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s health situation, and I hope he is receiving the care he needs. In this type of situation, the VA will usually not reduce any benefits unless the veteran shows a complete recovery. I can’t say for certain what will happen, but this is the usual situation. My recommendation is to contact a Veterans Service Organization, such as the DAV, VFW, etc., who can give you more specific advice based on his situation. These organizations have trained benefits counselors who are able to give more specific legal references and guidelines. I hope this points you in the right direction and I wish you both the best.

  36. Steve says

    Hello Ryan, I have a service connected anxiety disorder (similar symptoms to ptsd) when I was discharged from the Air Force in 1995. I was a power lineman during my service and saw some horrible accidents and close calls with myself which caused my anxiety. I did not know I could file a claim for it until recently when I met another veteran and told me I can make a claim. I have VA medical records since 1996 for this issue and after my claim I was awarded 30% benefits. My question is since my SC issue is 20 years old and my rating is only 1 year old would the VA still consider a re-examination for my anxiety issue? Does it fall under the 20 year protection rule?

    Thank you

  37. Michelle says

    Since 2013, I have to go for a re-evaluation every 6-12 months because my autoimmune is thought to improve in the ‘future’ only…it never does. I’ve had the same rating and disease for the past 12 years. I just found out by checking ebenefits that the VA filed a claim for increase with my current diagnosis even though I’m sitting at 100%. I never filed for this. Is this the same as re-evaluation? Are they looking to decrease or is there a chance they will finally determine that my autoimmune diagnosis is permanent?

  38. Mike S says

    I recently received a letter for a re-evaluation of my left and right shoulders which are both service-connected. My right shoulder was operated on five years ago by the VA and has progressively gotten worse. Left shoulder has stayed the same as far as pain and range of motion. Every time I go for an appointment, I tell the nurse my pain level, which has never been below 7 and where I’m hurting. I have only went to Urgent Care once in the last five years for my pain. I was told that since I haven’t been to Urgent Care very often, the VA will consider this a sign that I’m healed. I can say that I am far from that. I scheduled an appointment with the private doctor who performed the surgery (at the VA’s expense) so I can have a current medical examination report for my C&P at the end of October. My question is about the Urgent Care visits that I was told was not numerous enough. Can you please give me any insight on this? Thank you, Mike S

    • says

      Mike, I haven’t heard this before. I strongly recommend seeking advice from a qualified benefits counselor at the DAV or another Veterans Service Organization. They can walk you through the claims and appeals process should it reach that point. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  39. Aaron says

    Hello Ryan, I read your article and found it to be very informative! A month ago, I received a combined rating of 50% for major depression with Adhd. My question is, what are the chances of being reevaluated along with the time frame? (I’m guessing 2-5 years) Thank you!

  40. somy says

    I am 100% P & T. Total combined rating 100%. PTSD 100, and other things total 100 too. I would like to know I did not see my award letter saying I am unemployable or any thing like that. I did not apply for IU. So I would like to know if I get small job can I go to work and, If I work VA reduce my rating. I would like to reduce the rating, because I am not sure how long if I get job I can work. I saw many 100% veterans are working long time. Please advice me

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *