Matthew Hill: Hello, I’m Matthew Hill here with Carol Ponton on the Hill and Ponton VA Video Blog and today we want to talk to you about reductions. Essentially when the VA reduces the rating you have, so you already have a service-connected condition, and it’s rated a certain percent and the VA comes back and says, “Well, we don’t think we should have this rate at this percentage anymore.” Do you see this?
Carol Ponton: I see it all the time. So we’re doing to drop your benefit from 60 to 10, and what I want, it’s very complicated the way that you are properly able to reduce somebody. They can do that, but they have to do it according to the law. And the law is pretty complicated. So we find that it’s often done improperly. So you need to, if you’ve been reduced and you don’t think that your condition has gotten better, that’s something you really need to fight. It’s on the VA, it’s their burden to show, that you have gotten better. Okay?
Matthew Hill: Right. I mean up until this point it had been your burden to show the displays related to service, that this is how high it should be rated, and now with VA saying, “No, it should be reduced”, well the burden has shifted to them to show what, why it should be reduced and what evidence they have for that reduction.
Carol Ponton: So a lot of veterans don’t understand that you can be reduced. So the law says that after you’ve been service-connected for something for 10 years, they can’t go back and un-service connect it unless they show fraud, okay? Something like that. After 20 years, they can’t go back and reduce your rating, okay? So you have 10 years, your service connection is good. After 20 years, the rating you have is good and they can’t go back and reduce it unless again they show fraud.
Carol Ponton: So what you need to know is in between that time, they can look at, they can reduce it but I find in the majority of the cases, they don’t do it correctly. And so if you’ve been reduced and you feel like that that was not proper, then you need to appeal that. Whether it’s now or whether it happened in the past.
Matthew Hill: Right. And so that, what we see a lot of times is veterans go in for an increased rating, they file an increased rating then all of a sudden the VA’s trying to reduce their rating. Well, there’s two different actions going on there. They’re trying to reduce your rating, that’s them to produce the evidence to show it’s reduced, but with the increased rating, you need to be saying, “Well, this actually is worse and here’s the evidence to show it and here’s what I show the CMP examiner to approve that it’s worse.”
Carol Ponton: Right.
Matthew Hill: Thank you so much for joining us today, and we look forward to talking to you again soon.