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What Is The VA Disability 5-Year Rule?

What Is The VA Disability 5-Year Rule?

Receiving disability benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is a breath of fresh air for all Veterans. However, many worry that the VA can reduce their benefits.

While it’s true that the VA can re-examine a Veteran’s condition, it becomes much more difficult to do so after five years. This is called the VA Disability 5-Year Rule. If you’re new to receiving disability benefits from the VA, it’s important to know how this rule can affect you.

In this guide, we’ll cover the ins and outs of the VA Disability 5-Year Rule to give you a better understanding of what you can expect.

What Is the 5-Year Rule?

The 5-Year Rule makes it difficult for the VA to reexamine your disability benefits after your rate has been set for more than five years. Typically, the VA may reassess your benefits 2-5 years after your application has been approved in order to see if your condition has improved, worsened, or stayed the same.

This happens when the VA assumes that your disability may improve since they last awarded your benefits. If the VA exceeds the five-year threshold before doing a review, they must provide substantial proof showing a significant improvement in your condition.

This means that your disability benefits will likely stay in place if the VA doesn’t review them within five years. The 5-Year Rule can be beneficial to Veterans with painful, long-term disabilities because it gives them peace of mind, knowing their benefits will not decrease or end.

However, it can also cause anxiety to Veterans who feel their benefits can be reduced before the rule goes into effect. Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure this rule can help your case instead of harming it.

Here Is What You Need to Know About the VA 5-Year Rule

Under the VA’s 5-Year Rule, you can expect the following:

The VA Considers Injuries Longer than Five Years to Be Static

The VA regularly provides benefits for permanent disabilities. They also provide benefits for disabilities that may improve with time. If your injury doesn’t improve within five years, the VA will deem it a static or permanent disability.

You Likely Won’t Face Re-Examination if You’re Over 55

If you’re older than 55, you likely won’t receive a re-evaluation from the VA. The VA actually prohibits rate reductions based on age, meaning you can receive the same benefits even past retirement age.

Re-Examinations Typically Happen Between 2-5 Years

This is the normal timeframe that the VA will re-evaluate your claim. If they notice that your disability has not improved, they will keep your rate the same.

Why the 5-Year Rule Can Help You

If your case is reevaluated by the VA, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, the VA can inaccurately judge your disabilities in the first place.

If this is the case, the VA may realize their mistake after taking a closer look at your injury profile. Upon finding an error, they could decide to increase your disability benefits.

Even if the VA didn’t make a mistake, this rule could still help you. For example, if your injuries worsened and caused secondary disabilities since your original rating, the VA will likely increase your benefits.

In either case, a reevaluation from the VA can ensure you have the financial wherewithal and healthcare benefits necessary to live a better life.

How the VA 5-Year Rule Can Hurt You

The 5-Year Rule was designed to help Veterans receive stable income from the VA. However, it can have the opposite effect sometimes.

For example, the VA may automatically assume that your medical condition will improve within five years. They may choose to lower benefits by default. Also, the nature of your disability might confuse the VA into lowering your benefits.

For example, many Veterans have unpredictable symptoms that come and go without any explanation. During an examination, the VA may determine that your condition has improved and decrease your benefits. Unfortunately, your symptoms might return, and you won’t have the necessary benefits to address your condition.

How to Maintain or Increase Your VA Disability Rating

You shouldn’t automatically count on the VA to maintain your disability rating. They’re not a perfect organization and may make mistakes that can jeopardize your benefits.

Here are some ways you can maintain or increase your VA disability rating:

Keep Seeking Treatment for Your Condition.

If you are still suffering from the effects of a service-connected disability, make sure to continue treating with your doctor, taking any prescribed medications, and taking other practical steps toward recovery.

If the VA sees an indication that they interpret as meaning that you no longer need treatment, they are likely to lower your rating or discontinue your benefits.  However, as long as your service-connected disability is still negatively affecting your life, you deserve ongoing VA benefits.

Make Sure the VA Has Not Lowered Your Rating by Default

In some cases, the VA may lower a Veteran’s disability rating based on the assumption that their condition has improved. This is often the case for service-connected disabilities that are considered highly treatable or disabilities that typically have a timeframe for recovery.

However, if you are still dealing with severe symptoms from a service-connected disability, the VA should not lower or discontinue your benefits.

If Your Rating Has Decreased, Get a Second Opinion From Your Doctor.

Through an Independent Medical Examination (IME), you can make a case to the VA that your disability rating should be maintained or increased. The results of your IME can be presented to the VA as part of an appeal.

Consult an Experienced VA Disability Benefits Attorney.

Berry Law’s team of experienced VA disability benifits lawyers is dedicated to helping Veterans get and keep the disability compensation that they deserve. If you are struggling to get the right rating from the VA, if your claim has been denied, or if you are starting the appeal process, we can help.

Contact Berry Law to Discuss Your VA Benefits

The VA Disability 5-Year Rule is meant to protect Veterans from constantly worrying if their benefits are going to be reduced. However, there are still some situations where your disability rating can decrease. Reach out to the skilled legal team at Berry Law to learn more

Call us at (888) 883-2483 to speak to a member of our team and better understand your unique benefits circumstances.

John S. Berry, , Lawyer for VA Disability Benefits
John S. Berry, , VA Disability Benefits Attorney
Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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