There are times when the VA might review a disability rating you have had in order to determine if your condition has improved. If the VA is considering lowering your rating in this situation, try not to panic as there are some procedures the VA must follow and things you can do to assist your case.
First of all, you must realize that simply receiving the letter proposing the reduction does not mean that your benefits have been taken away. You will continue to receive your benefits until such time as the VA makes a decision about the proposed reduction. The VA is required to provide a claimant with written notice prior to enacting the reduction so it should not occur without notice to you. The VA must also allow a period of at least sixty (60) days to allow the claimant to provide additional evidence of how the service-connected condition has not improved.
Request a Hearing
First and foremost, it would be wise to request a hearing with the VA regarding the proposed reduction. You must request the hearing within thirty (30) days of the date of the VA letter proposing the reduction. The VA then cannot reduce your rating without having the hearing (which typically takes some time) and will allow you more time to provide that additional evidence.
After requesting a hearing, there are other things you can do.
To assess your current condition, the VA might require that you undergo another disability C&P exam. If one is set for you, DO attend it! Be forthright and let the examiner know all the symptoms you are still having and how often they occur. (If you do not attend the exam, the VA will have the right to reduce your rating.)
Obtain “buddy statements” from family, friends, co-workers, etc. regarding how your condition still affects you. They can describe details of instances they recall where you were unable to participate in certain activities or events due to your medical condition or how they and others have had to assist you in order for you to manage your home life or work life because of your disability. If someone has known you quite a while, they can possibly attest to how your condition has actually worsened over the past year(s), months, etc.
You can obtain copies of your medical records where you have told your doctors about your ongoing symptoms and you have continued to receive treatment for them. Then, you can prepare a statement yourself talking about the conditions you still have and point out entries in your medical records that confirm this and attach those pages to your statement.
The VA is not supposed to reduce your rating simply because you may have had a short period of improvement. It is only supposed to reduce a rating if a veteran’s condition shows “sustained, continual improvement.”
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