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As a veteran with a disability, it is not uncommon for you and your family to depend financially on those payments. Raising a family is hard enough when you have a dependable, stable source of income.

Even if your partner works a steady job, those disability benefits are often crucial. As the cost of living continues to rise, it gets harder and harder to make ends meet.

Because adequate financial planning requires a dependable source of income, you might wonder at times, Can VA disability be taken away? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

The VA often continues with disability payments for the duration of a veteran’s life. However, the VA and the federal government do reserve the right to alter the duration or amount of this financial resource. 

In What Circumstances Can the VA Take Away My Disability Benefits?

To understand when and why the VA takes away disability benefits, we have to know what factors they look at to make such a decision. Some disability rates are locked in and considered protected benefit rates.

We will discuss those below, but first, we need to look at unprotected benefit rates. Unprotected benefit rates are a specific class of disability ratings that the VA can alter. After a reexamination of your disability, the VA can lower or remove your rating entirely.

To legally make that reduction, the VA’s reexamination of your disability must show the following:

  • Your disability has shown real, marked improvement (not a temporary change);
  • The improvement in question increases your ability to fulfill your functions in the workplace and at home;
  • The report submitted after the reexamination must leave no questions unanswered and be as thorough as possible; and
  • As part of the thorough review, the VA must consider the entirety of your disability’s medical history.

If those four factors are met, the VA can reduce your disability compensation. Please keep in mind that in addition to a reduction based on reexamination, the VA reserves the right to temporarily suspend or reduce your benefit rates if you are subject to incarceration.

Can the VA Take Away My Compensation?

Whether or not the VA can or will try to take away your disability compensation depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of your specific injury.

Since the VA looks at so many different factors, it is hard to generically predict whether your VA disability benefits are at risk. Unless, of course, you have received notification from the VA indicating that your disability benefits are under challenge.

However, just like there are factors that increase the likelihood that the VA will take away your compensation, there are factors that indicate the opposite. Instead, these are factors that protect your benefits and the rate at which you receive them. In most instances, these factors can stop the VA from suspending your benefits entirely.

100% Disability Rating

Five Years or More with the Same Disability Rating 

There are two time constraints that will help protect your VA disability benefits.

The first is five years, and the second is 20 years. If your disability rating is effective for five years or more—without change—it is protected. Unless your condition has continuously improved over the preceding five years, your disability rating is entirely protected.

The VA must affirmatively establish that your disability continuously improved to change your rating. A temporary improvement is not enough to suspend or alter your benefits rating.

20 Years or More with the Same Disability Rating

The second time constraint that will protect your VA disability rating is 20 years. If your disability rate has remained unmoved for 20 years or more, your rate is nearly untouchable. There is only one way the VA can reduce or take away your disability rating after 20 years or more.

To do so, they must prove that the rating was based on fraud in some form or another. This requires a high evidentiary standard. Thus, if you are in this situation and have never committed fraud, you have little to worry about.

The Best Way to Defend Your VA Disability Benefits Is with Experience on Your Side

Even if it seems like the VA has a legitimate claim to reduce your disability benefits, you should always stand up for yourself and fight for your rights.

If your finances depend on these benefits, there’s too much at stake to not stand up for your rights. After all, the VA’s decision can make the difference between making your mortgage payment on time this month or not. 

If you are ready to fight for your rights, the VA disability benefits team at Gerling Law Injury Attorneys is on standby to help you through the process from start to finish.

Our team serves clients nationwide, so wherever you are, we can help. To top things off, our VA disability benefits team focuses specifically on VA disability benefits, so we have the requisite experience to give you the legal help you deserve. 

Veterans, you fought for our rights, so let us fight for yours. Give us a call today, tell us your story, and let’s see what we can do!

Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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