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How Long do VA Disability Benefits Last?

Published on July 23rd, 2019

As a veteran, you may be entitled to receive disability compensation for the rest of your life, once your claim is granted. In some cases, however, a medical condition that you are receiving compensation for may get better, in which case your disability rating may be decreased. Usually this will result in a reduction of your monthly disability compensation payments–but there are exceptions. Additionally, there are also situations in which your compensation may be temporarily or even permanently suspended because of your misconduct.

If your disability rating has been reduced after your most recent VA medical exam, you may want to speak with a veterans benefits lawyer. Often, your rating will get reduced because your condition has legitimately improved. But there also situations where the reduction in your disability rating does not reflect any improvement in your actual condition. At Jackson & MacNichol, we can help you challenge the VA’s decision and get you the compensation you deserve for your disability. Call us today at 800-524-3339 for a free consultation.

When May the VA Reduce my Disability Compensation?

If you are claiming disability compensation for a medical condition that is likely to improve with time, the VA will often require you to attend one or more medical examinations. Generally, these will occur six months after your first exam, and then again sometime between two and five years later. If this re-examination shows that your condition has significantly improved, the VA may lower your disability rating. If the condition has been cured and  no longer exists, you will lose your disability rating along with your benefits for that condition.

If you are rated as totally disabled, meaning that you got a 100 percent disability rating, you could potentially see your benefits reduced if a medical examination shows a “material improvement” of your condition. Sometimes, the VA may use the fact that you are working full time as evidence that you are no longer totally disabled. In general, however, a medical examination will not be required if you have had the same disability rating for more than five years.

Your initial VA medical examination could show that your disability is permanent or unlikely to improve. In such cases, the VA will probably not require you to attend a new examination. Similarly, if you are over the age of 55, or if for other reasons a new examination would not affect your compensation, you will probably not have to submit to a new exam.

There are two sets of circumstances in which your disability payments will not be affected even if a new medical examination that shows an improvement in your condition:

  • You have received a permanent and total disability rating, and have been receiving benefits for twenty years or more
  • You initially received a less than total disability rating, but have been receiving benefits for more than twenty years. In this case, the VA may decrease your disability rating, but they will not lower your monthly payments.

Finally, your disability payments may be cancelled because of misconduct. If the VA finds out that you lied on your disability claim, you may lose your benefits. Similarly, if you intentionally received disability benefits that you knew you should not have been receiving, you may lose your benefits and also be subject to criminal prosecution. A conviction of a crime against the United States , such as treason, will also result in the forfeiture of benefits. Similarly, if you are  convicted of a felony (a serious crime), you will lose most of your benefits while you are incarcerated.

A Veterans Benefits Lawyer Can Fight Your Reduced Disability Rating

If the VA lowers your disability rating without justification, don’t give up!. Many veterans lose out on disability compensation because the VA wrongly interprets their changing medical and personal circumstances. It’s up to you and your legal team to counter these assumptions and show that you still deserve compensation. To learn more about how to appeal a decrease in your veterans compensation payments, call Jackson & MacNichol today 800-524-3339 for a free case consultation.


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