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Taking Control of Your VA Reexamination
VA Reexamination: How to Take Control
Once a rating decision has been issued and a benefit has been granted, the VA usually schedules a future examination. Reexaminations are scheduled so that the VA can assign an evaluation that currently and accurately reflects the present level of the Veteran’s disability. The purpose of the practice of medicine is to make patients better, so many times disabilities will improve with treatment, surgical procedures, or over time with the body’s natural healing process.
When Does the VA Schedule Reexaminations?
According to 38 CFR 3.328(b), the VA will schedule future examinations between 2 and 5 years after the original rating is issued. After the VA reexamines the Veteran’s condition, the rating may be increased, reduced to a lower rating, or remain the current level.
Future exams will not be scheduled if:
- A disability is considered static
- Symptoms have persisted without material improvement for five or more years
- A disability from disease is permanent and not likely to improve
- A Veteran is over 55 years old
- The minimum rating was assigned
- A combined disability evaluation would not be affected even if a future examination resulted in a reduced benefit
Will My Condition(s) Be Scheduled for a Reexamination?
Here is how to tell if your condition/s may be scheduled for future exams and when the exam will take place. The VA will issue a rating decision that includes a code sheet. The code sheet is most often the last pages of the rating decision packet. The code sheet will always list future exam dates, or it will list “None” if no future exam will take place. Each condition listed on the code sheet will also state if the disability is “Static Disability” or it will state “Future Exam on xxxxx”. If your rating decision packet does not have a code sheet, or if you cannot locate the future exam notes, contact your Veteran Service Officer who assisted with your claim. If you submitted the claim without assistance, contact your closest VA Regional Office and speak with a Public Contact representative who can help with this information.
Preparing for Future Examinations
Future examinations can be stressful with many Veterans not trusting the VA contracted medical examiners. The VA may send you to a physician who is not a specialist. If you have a foot disability, you will want a podiatrist to examine you and not someone who specializes in ear, nose, and throat disabilities.
One way you can take control of your own future examinations is to see a private provider approximately 3 months prior to the date of your future exam. Take a Disability Benefit Questionnaire for the condition to be examined.
These questionnaires can be found here: https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/dbq_publicdbqs.asp.
You will be required to pay for this examination, but the cost may be offset by giving you an honest and thorough assessment of your disability.
38 CFR 3.326(b) states that any examination report, from any government or private institution may be accepted for rating a claim without further examination.
Following Your Medical Exam
Once you have a completed disability benefit questionnaire, send it to your service officer for review. If your condition has become worse, submit the questionnaire to the VA asking for a rating increase. If your condition has remained at the current level of impairment, send the questionnaire to VA asking they make the condition static. If the questionnaire shows your condition has improved, allow the VA to schedule a future exam to see if their contracted physician comes up with the same assessment. Make sure you submit questionnaires to the VA several weeks prior to the date of the future routine examination to avoid having to attend an exam that the VA schedules with their contracted physicians. This way you take control over your disability ratings.