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VA Disability 10-Year Rule Explained

VA Disability 10-Year Rule Explained

Video Transcription

Nicholas Briggs: Welcome to CCK Live Under Five. My name is Nicholas Briggs and I’m an accredited VA claims agent here at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. And in this video, I’ll be explaining the VA disability 10-year rule.

VA’s 10-year rule states that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cannot terminate service connection for a disability that has been in place for at least 10 years unless there was evidence of fraud at the time of the grant. This 10-year period is calculated from the effective date of VA’s original grant of service connection, and this rule exists to protect veterans from unfair termination of disability benefits.

So, in a nutshell, if a veteran maintains a service connection for a condition for at least 10 years, the grant of service connection itself is considered protected, which means that the service connection can no longer be terminated under the usual procedures, even in the face of clear and unmistakable evidence. It’s only evidence of fraud that could potentially allow for the severance after 10 years.

It’s important to understand the difference between severance and reduction. So, while service connection may be protected after 10 years, the rating assigned for that particular service-connected disability does not become similarly protected until 20 years go by. So, even if the rating’s been in place for 10 years, it may still be reduced after the 10-year mark.

In order for VA to reduce a disability rating, it must first propose the reduction based on the review of the veteran’s entire medical history. Any examination reports used as evidence must be based on thorough examinations.

Additionally, VA outlines the general criteria for reducing ratings at 38 CFR 3.105(e), which states that a reduction can only take place if there’s been an actual change in the disability since the last decision and that change reflects a material improvement in the veteran’s ability to function under the ordinary conditions of daily life.

Now, if a veteran does have their condition severed before the 10-year mark comes into effect, VA can only determine that severance is warranted based on a finding of clear and unmistakable error. And when proposing to terminate a service connection, it must issue a notice. It’s got to give the veteran 30 days to request a hearing and 60 days in which to submit additional evidence. And then once the VA issues that decision finally severing a condition, the veteran can go through the usual process for appealing that decision, including filing a request for Higher-Level Review, submitting a Supplemental Claim, or filing a Notice of Disagreement to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

So finally, we have more information on the 10-year rule available on our blog and other veteran-friendly protections as well. So, please feel free to subscribe to our channel and view any other resources you have on the subject of severances and reductions.