VA Disability Rating: Is it Permanent?
Michael Lostritto: Welcome to another episode of CCK Live in Under Five, where we cover important veterans issues in five minutes or less. My name is Michael Lostritto. I am an attorney at Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick. And today, we are answering the question, is my VA disability rating permanent?
VA deems disability permanent when it is reasonably certain that the level of impairment of the condition will continue for the rest of the veterans life. Does this mean that a veteran is exempt from re-examination? When VA decides a veteran’s service-connected condition is permanent in nature, usually speaking, it no longer requires veterans to attend a re-examination. And so, veterans are often exempt from re-examination in several different situations.
The first situation is if the veterans condition static, meaning it has not changed for number of years or a period of time. Number two, the veterans condition is persistent without material improvement for a period of five years or more. If that is the case, then veterans condition is known as they stabilized rating or a stabilized condition. And, if that is the case then veterans are afforded additional protections that VA must meet before they are allowed to reduce and otherwise stabilized disability rating. The third scenario is if the disability is from a disease that is typically permanent in nature and there is really no likelihood of improvement. Sometimes some cancers, not all, but some cancers and some other conditions that might not improve. Number four, if the veterans over fifty-five years of age, veterans will be less likely to be scheduled for a re-examination of their condition. Number six, if a rating that a veteran received is already assigned a minimum reading allowed for that particular condition, often times VA will not re-examine the condition because it is already rated at the lowest possible rating. Finally, if a lower rating or reduction in the veteran’s disability rating would not impact the veteran’s combined disability rating overall and therefore would not reduce their monthly compensation, VA typically will not go ahead and re-examine the condition or schedule a new exam.
How do veterans know if their rating is permanent? So what veterans really need to do here is they need to look at their rating decision. And in particular, the first page that accompanies the rating decision known as the notice of action letter. Oftentimes, although the exact language will vary from regional office to regional office, VA will give some indication that the veteran’s condition is permanent in nature. Sometimes they will check a box when a veteran’s disability is rated at a hundred percent disability rating and that box indicates that the condition is permanent. Other times, they award additional ancillary benefits that can only be awarded should the veterans condition be deemed permanent. These additional ancillary benefits include DEA benefits or Dependents Chapter 35 benefits, CHAMPVA benefits. If those benefits are awarded and accompany any grant benefits for compensation, veterans can know that their disability is considered permanent in nature. Finally and maybe the most straightforward way, VA will sometimes just indicate on the decision that no future examinations or reexaminations will be scheduled. It is a good indication that the veteran’s condition is deemed permanent in nature. If the letter says that future examinations are scheduled, then, your disability rating is not considered permanent by VA.
There is a lot of information about permanent ratings, a lot of additional information about permanent ratings on CCK’s website. Please check out our infographics and our blog as well. And do not forget to check out our full length videos on YouTube.
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