The VA has the power to reexamine veterans that have been awarded benefits at any time. It is possible that the VA might require a veteran receiving disability benefits to undergo a reexamination in order to determine the current status of the veteran’s disability. This is done when the VA determines that they need evidence to confirm that the disability is ongoing or to check and see how severe the disability currently is. Usually the VA will order a reexamination if there is evidence that the veteran’s disability has significantly changed, or if there is evidence that the veteran’s disability is likely to improve. Also, the VA’s duty to assist might require the VA to reexamine a veteran’s disability. Reexaminations do not necessarily mean the VA is going to reduce a veteran’s benefits. A reexamination might also result in a veteran having their benefits increased. Another outcome of a reexamination is the amount of benefits a veteran is receiving does not change at all. The VA makes their determination after the reviewing the reexamination report.
The VA will typically call a veteran or send a veteran a letter to let them know a reexamination has been scheduled. This is usually done about every five years, or until a veteran’s disability goes away, becomes static (a disability that is not going to go away over time),, or becomes permanent and total. When the VA schedules a reexamination, a veteran is required to go. It is important to remember that a veteran who does not go to a reexamination ordered by the VA, risks getting their benefits reduced or even stopped. However, if a veteran has good cause for not showing up at the reexamination the VA will reschedule the exam without any penalty to the veteran. An example of “good cause” would be if the veteran became very ill, or required hospitalization.
Not all veterans that are receiving disability benefits are subject to a reexamination by the VA. Usually, a reexamination will not be scheduled when: a disability is static, symptoms have continued for 5 or more years without any serious improvement, a disability from a disease is permanent and not likely to get any better, the veteran is over 55 years old, the disability is assigned the minimum rating available, or a combined rating will not be affected by any outcome of the reexamination. These situations are called “protected” ratings. But keep in mind, even a veteran that has been assigned a 100% rating might not be protected if the 100% rating has not been in effect for more than five years.