By Douglas Katz – 5/23/23
As a veteran, a professional who works with veterans and someone who just cares about fellow veterans’ well-being, I have spent considerable time learning about the VA disability system. I am not an expert, but as a layperson, I want to share a little considered component of the VA Disability system that can have huge impact. In many cases your rating is not guaranteed and you can be re-evaluated for the rating. While all ratings that are service related will always be, the rating could change. For those who depend on this it can be immensely problematic.. Additionally, other benefits like the Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption in Illinois can be jeopardized as well. This is something about which you need to be informed about and that you should plan for.
I myself just recently discovered that at least one of my ratings will likely require re-evaluation in the coming months and years. This caught me a bit by surprise and it occurred to me that other veterans may be facing this or they may even be unaware of their potential VA disability re-evaluation. I hope that by sharing what I have discovered about the re-evaluation process for VA disability benefits and how you can determine if you are vulnerable to future changes can benefit them and prevent possible disaster. It is crucial to be well-informed and prepared for any potential modifications that may affect your benefits.
Understanding the VA Disability Re-Evaluation Process
The VA implements the re-evaluation process for several reasons, all aimed at ensuring fairness, accountability, and responsible use of taxpayer funds. It is important to understand that the VA is not targeting veterans with these re-evaluations, but rather striving to maintain an accurate assessment of disability ratings. By periodically reviewing veterans’ conditions, the VA can identify any improvements in their health that may warrant adjustments in their disability ratings or benefits. This process is also intended to prevent potential abuse of the system by ensuring that benefits are appropriately allocated to those who truly need them. It is seen as a proactive measure to be good stewards of taxpayer money and ensure the integrity of the VA disability program. By conducting re-evaluations, the VA aims to strike a balance between supporting deserving veterans and safeguarding the integrity of the system.
Factors Triggering Re-Evaluation: Not all veterans undergo re-evaluation, but certain factors can trigger this process. These factors include:
- Schedules: The VA has specific schedules for different disabilities, indicating when re-evaluations are likely to occur. The frequency of re-evaluations varies depending on the severity and nature of the disability. Some conditions require more frequent assessments, while others need less frequent ones.
- Medical Improvement Expected (MIE): If there is a reasonable expectation of medical improvement in a veteran’s condition, the VA may schedule periodic re-evaluations. This criterion considers whether treatments or therapies could lead to the amelioration of a service-connected disability.
- Permanent and Total Ratings: Veterans with a “permanent and total” (P&T) disability rating are less likely to undergo re-evaluation. However, it is important to note that certain P&T ratings may still be subject to mandatory re-examinations, depending on the specifics of the disability.
Determining Vulnerability to Future Changes: To assess if you are vulnerable to potential changes in your VA disability benefits, consider the following steps:
- Review Your Disability Rating: Familiarize yourself with the details of your current disability rating. Understand the basis on which your rating was awarded and the associated documentation. By understanding the specific criteria used to evaluate your condition, you can better gauge the likelihood of re-evaluation.
- Study the Schedule of Ratings: Consult the VA’s Schedule of Ratings (38 CFR, Part 4) to determine if your disability is subject to periodic re-evaluation. Pay close attention to the specific language and guidelines related to your condition to gain insight into when and why re-evaluations may occur.
- Seek Professional Guidance: Reach out to a veteran service officer or an accredited representative who can provide personalized assistance. These professionals have expertise in navigating the VA system and can evaluate your situation to determine if you are at risk of future changes.
- Stay Informed: Stay updated on policy changes and updates within the VA system. Regularly visit the official VA website, subscribe to newsletters, or join veteran support groups to receive timely information regarding potential alterations to disability benefits and re-evaluation processes.
Knowing Makes the Difference
As a veteran, it is crucial to proactively seek information and understand the VA disability re-evaluation process. While I may not be an expert, I believe that by grasping the factors triggering re-evaluation and taking steps to evaluate your vulnerability to future changes, you can better protect your benefits. Remember to seek guidance from veteran service officers and engage with the VA community to stay informed. Remember that the you need to be aware and involved. These are your benefits and only you can ensure that they are safeguarded throughout the re-evaluation process and any potential modifications that may arise. When in doubt, get help!