In a previous post, I discussed what you can do to achieve an increased rating. Today we will discuss what you can do once you have received a letter that proposes to reduce your benefits. Since the VA has the power to grant and increase benefits, they also have the power to reduce benefits after a letter of proposal has been sent to a veteran.
If you have received a VA proposed reduction letter regarding your benefits, do not panic! Like most letters and correspondence that come from the VA, some information may not be all that clear based on the letter that the VA sends you. To try and avoid the reduction of your benefits; here are a few steps you may want to take:
Steps to Consider
- Read the letter of proposal in its entirety. This letter will have very important information. The letter will explain to you what is being proposed to be reduced and what percentage. For example, the letter may state that your PTSD is being proposed to be reduced from a 70 percent rating to a 50 percent rating. The letter will also provide you with deadlines for your appeal.
- After you have read the letter in its entirety, you can send a letter to the VA asking for an in-person Decision Review Officer or DRO hearing. This needs to be submitted in writing to the VA within 30 days of receiving the letter that proposes to reduce your benefit. When you request a hearing within 30 days of the receipt of your proposal letter, your benefits will continue to be paid at the current rate until the hearing is held. This step is vital because failing to request a hearing will actuate the VA to be paying you at the new proposed lower rate.
- Be proactive. You may want to visit your doctor. More specifically, the doctor that treats you for the condition that is proposed to be reduced. A letter or updated medical records from that doctor stating and showing that your condition has in fact not improved to the extent that your benefits should be reduced.
- If the letter you have received proposing to reduce your benefits asks for specific information, always provide that requested information within the deadline provided. For example, often times the VA will propose to reduce dependent benefits if you do not certify that there have not been any changes to your dependency.
- If the VA schedules you for a Compensation and Pension Examination after you have received a proposed reduction letter, you must attend the exam. Sometimes the VA needs to assess the severity of the condition that is proposed to be reduced. Failure to attend this exam can result in an automatic reduction in your benefits.
Can the VA just take my benefits without notice?
The VA will always notify you in writing of a proposal to reduce benefits. The benefits that you are currently receiving should not just stop out of the blue. You have the opportunity to try to avoid a possible reduction in your benefits. The five steps mentioned above are some of the first steps that you should keep in mind for if and when you receive a proposal to reduce your VA disability benefits.