Posted by Gregory M. Rada | August 9, 2019 | Disability Compensation
The road to approval for Veterans Administration (VA) disability compensation benefits is rarely smooth, but once granted, many assume the worry is behind them and benefits will continue without end.
Seeking disability benefits is not an easy decision for most veterans, and many will do everything they can to work to the fullest extent for as long as possible. At some point, though, some will be forced to step away from the workplace and seek a Total Disability rating based on Individual Unemployability (a TDIU) due to physical or psychiatric injuries sustained during military service.
Although VA has a process to reduce or take away hard-won benefits, that possibility is not the end of the story. Simply because the VA orders a reexamination does not mean a reduction or loss of benefits is a foregone conclusion – there are ways to fight that outcome.
But, the first step in knowing how to do so is understanding when a reexamination will be ordered and what the VA will be looking for during the examination. A discussion of the analysis the VA goes through when it determines if a reduction or elimination of TDIU benefits is appropriate will follow below.
Unless a veteran is labeled with a permanent and total disability rating the VA can periodically reexamine the service-connected condition if it thinks improvement is possible. Typically, when a disability rating is first assigned, the VA will inform the veteran if a reexamination will be conducted in the future – usually within two to five years.
Special rules apply when a veteran is in receipt of TDIU benefits. Specifically, the VA may not terminate TDIU benefits unless there is “clear and convincing evidence” establishing that the veteran is capable for “actual employability.” Unless the veteran actually engages in substantially gainful employment, that is a high standard for the VA to meet. Regardless, reexaminations must be taken seriously because a proposal to stop TDIU benefits can be catastrophic.
Before implementing a rating or benefits reduction, the VA will mail the veteran a letter explaining the proposed reduction. The veteran then has 30 days to request a personal hearing with the VA rater who is proposing the reduction.
After the hearing, the VA rater might stop the proposal, go forward with the proposal, or order new examinations to develop more evidence. If the VA proceeds with the proposed reduction, it will issue a rating decision via letter, and the reduction will go into effect 120 days later. At that point, the veteran must appeal the rating decision and start developing evidence to counter the reduction.
Your VA disability compensation benefits are critical to navigating the overwhelming journey of a disability, and if you have questions about receiving or keeping benefits, talk to a VA disability attorney about your situation. Being a veteran himself, Attorney Gregory M. Rada uniquely understands your experience and your needs. Representing veterans across the country, contact me today at (844) 838-7529 for a free consultation.
Gregory Rada is a Veterans Benefits Attorney who practices Nationwide. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and has been practicing law for six years. Gregory Rada believes in fighting for fellow veterans. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.