You bet the VA can reduce your disability compensation! They can do anything they want – which, unfortunately, is the big problem with the VBA and the BVA.
The question I wish more Veterans would ask, though, is this: is the VA’s proposal to reduce my VA Disability Benefits lawful?
Fight Back – Don’t Let the VA Reduce Disability Benefits Without Following the Law.
You’ll hear all sorts of horror stories about the VA reducing benefits.
* There is an old saying about the VA – and I wish I could disprove it – “A Claim for Increase Will Get You a Decrease”
* Veterans respond to Proposals to Decrease their VA Disability benefits by filing claims for increase on every condition. (Sometimes, this is the right thing to do)….often the end result is that a Veteran can make a reduction much worse – and certainly more stressful.
* Veterans with protected ratings are still getting their VA Disability Benefits reduced.
* The VA assumes that because you take medication for a condition – or because you use a CPAP machine to treat your Sleep Apnea – that you are “cured” and shouldn’t get compensation.
The problem is that while many of these horror stories are true, they are also effective at intimidating Veterans.
* Veterans that fear a proposal to reduce their VA Disability Benefits will not file a Claim for Increase in impairment rating when their condition gets worse.
* Veterans believe that the VA knows best and accept the proposal to reduce VA Disability compensation without fighting back
* Veterans don’t know the law that should govern the VA when they try to decrease your VA Disability – and don’t put the right (or the right amount) of evidence in their response.
* VSOs regularly advise Veterans to “be happy with what they got” and not seek what they are entitled to so they might avoid a cut in VA disability benefits
When Uncle Sam Wants to Reduce VA Disability Benefits, Fight Back!
The above situations are maddening to me, for a couple reasons. These common beliefs:
* Encourage what I call the “Passive Veteran Mentality” – the idea that we are victims of the VA Hamster Wheel, or that we have to accept or be afraid of the VA.
* Don’t help Veterans learn the law that governs when the VA can reduce Disability Benefits.
* Don’t EMPOWER Veterans to learn the law of the VA Claims process and push back against VA strong-arming.
If you’ve been reading the Veterans Law Blog for any length of time, you know that I am about EMPOWERING Veterans – showing Veterans that they have MORE Power than they think when it comes to the VA….and how to USE that power.
So, in keeping with that philosophy, I am going to give Veterans a tool to help them fight back when the VA wants to cut their VA disability compensation benefits.
I am going to write a book that walks you through how to fight a VA proposal to Reduce VA Disability Benefits.
Click on the image below to sign up for a pre-release announcement when this book is published:
These are the things that will be covered in this eBook:
* When can the VA reduce – and not reduce – your VA disability compensation?
* What process does the VA have to follow to Reduce VA Disability benefits?
* What are the legal elements of a claim to reduce VA Disability compensation?
* What evidence – and h0w much – do you need to fight back against a proposed decrease of VA Disability Benefits.
* How to structure your defense against a proposal to reduce VA disability compensation.
* Factors to consider when looking for representation in a proposed VA disability reduction claim.
* Case studies showing successful – and unsuccessful – Veterans and what they have in common.
* Much more….use the form below to tell me what other topics you need addressed in a book like this.
Many of you are going to ask me…what can I do NOW, though? The VA told me they want to Reduce VA Disability Benefits that I’m already receiving, and I don’t have time to wait on your book.
5 Things You Need to Know about VA Proposals to Reduce VA Disability Benefits.
#5: You need to learn what types of ratings can – and cann0t – be reduced.
There are certain types of ratings that can – and cannot – be reduced.
There are different processes that the VA must follow depending on how long you have had certain ratings.
The VA often forgets these things – and by knowing them, you hold a tactical advantage to stop a VA proposal to reduce VA disability benefits in its tracks.
Read about the different types of ratings – and when they can and cannot be reduced – by clicking here.
#4: You Have Constitutional Protections that Are Incredibly Powerful.
Most Veterans don’t know that their VA Disability Compensation is a Property Right protected by the US Constitution.
Upon learning that, the most cynical of Veterans might be inclined to think….“Well, whoop-de-doo, Chris….that and a dollar will get me a pack of gum”.
But what this REALLY means is that you have a helluva lot more power in your VA Disability Compensation Claim than you realize.
If you take that power, and force the VA to give you the proper notice and a hearing before they reduce VA Disability benefits, you have a pretty strong hand.
#3: One Phrase is the Key to beating proposals to reduce VA Disability benefits.
Here’s the phrase: “Material Improvement”.
I’m going to go into this in GREAT detail in the VA Reduction Field Manual – with a bunch of case studies showing you what these words mean in reality.
But for now, here’s a basic explanation: One improvement in one VA reexamination is often never enough to reduce VA Disability Benefits.
To properly reduce VA Disability Benefits, the VA must review the entire history of your condition – from injury, through diagnosis, to the past and current limitations and even its impact on your work history.
They must compare the entirety of your past and current symptomatology, before it can conclude that there has been a “material improvement”.
#2: Don’t miss VA Re-examinations.
If you miss a re-examination that the VA schedules after proposing to reduce your VA Disability Benefits, that is about as close to a “nail in the coffin” as you can get.
It’s one thing if the VA sends the reexamination notice to an old or incorrect address – or if you were in the hospital or out of the country at the time they sent the notice.
In situations like that, it is possible to get the reexamination appointment rescheduled, though the VA Regional Office will probably pretend not to know that they can do this.
But if you have knowledge of a reexamination for a VA Proposal to Reduce VA Disability benefits – and knowingly fail to show up at that exam – you are going to have one helluva time winning on appeal. The VA is allowed to deny any claim for failure to appear for a medical examination without good cause.
#1: This is the HARDEST choice to make in a proposal to reduce VA Disability Benefits.
When the VA decides – rightly or wrongly – that it wants to reduce your VA Disability, you get a choice: agree to reduce the benefits while you appeal (and you’ll get all the past-due paid back if you win), or keep the benefits throughout your appeal (in which case you’ll have to repay the VA if you lose).
It’s a Hobson’s Choice – the choice that is no choice at all.
It’s the equivalent of having a burglar hold a gun to your head and ask: if you let me rob you now, I’ll shoot you in the face tomorrow.
But if you let me shoot you in the face today, then I will wait until tomorrow to rob you.
You Tell Me – What do You Need to Know about VA Proposals to Reduce VA Disability Benefits?
Want to give me a suggestion about what to include in the VA Claims Reduction Field Manual?
Have questions about VA Claims Reductions?
Click here for an easy to use form to submit your ideas or suggestions to me.
Great article, would love to read book
Be great to have some case files in there and samples of letters that need to be written.
Keep up the great work Chris and Team.