Once the VA service-connects a Veteran for a disability, they will assign a disability rating. Veterans unsatisfied with this rating have the right to appeal the decision. But after going through the appeals process and finally being granted an accurate rating, what if a Veteran’s disability gets worse? Can he or she ask for a higher rating years after receiving a decision?
A disabled Veteran receiving benefits from the VA may ask for a review of his or her disability rating at any time. If your rating decision was granted less than a year ago, click here to find out how to begin the appeals process. If it has been more than a year since you received a rating decision, all it takes to request a rating review is a simple letter. No special form or online questionnaire is required.
Of course, supporting this argument is another story. To reopen a claim, a Veteran must submit new and material evidence showing that his or her condition has worsened since receiving a rating. This shouldn’t be difficult in many cases (for example, if a Veteran can no longer leave his or her home due to a service-connected disability), but it can be trickier for those with worsening PTSD.
About 11 percent of Vietnam combat Veterans still suffer from PTSD. According to one study, far more of them are getting worse than are getting better. Those who served in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD at similar rates. This means those who suffer from PTSD will be suffering more and more in years to come unless we make big changes to how we treat the disorder.
Showing the VA that your PTSD has gotten worse can be as easy as asking friends and family to write statements detailing how you’ve changed over time, but one of the symptoms of the disorder is social withdrawal. In some situations, you may have to submit to new examinations, either from a private doctor or a VA examiner.
When you write a letter to the VA requesting a rating review, it’s important to describe your symptoms in detail. To prepare for this letter, it can be helpful to record symptoms daily. The more information you can send to the VA, the more likely it is that they will increase your rating.
Any time the VA reevaluates a Veteran’s disability rating, it’s entirely possible that the rating may be decreased as a result. The VA could even spot an error in the initial benefits reward and reduce benefits accordingly.
Before filing for an increased rating, a Veteran should make sure medical evidence backs up their argument that disabilities have gotten worse. Of course, it’s always difficult to know for sure what the VA will determine when evaluating a claim.
Berry Law was founded by Vietnam War Veteran and legendary trial lawyer John Stevens Berry Sr. We are proud to have many military Veterans among our attorneys and staff who understand what it means to serve and know firsthand the struggles many of our clients face every day.
If you are denied increased benefits for a worsening disability, Berry Law may be able to help. We have been successfully representing veterans for decades. Contact us today for a free evaluation.
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