The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said the Veterans Benefits Administration spent $10.1 million on unwarranted reexaminations during the March-August 2017 review period, according to a report in the Washington Post. The 19,800 cases out of 53,500 classified as unwarranted reexaminations accounted for 37 percent of total cases, or more than one-third.
While the report noted that reexaminations are important for ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, unwarranted reexaminations result in unnecessary costs for Veterans and unnecessary work for VA employees. The Office of Inspector General report found that 15,500 of those 19,800 unwarranted reexaminations – or 78 percent – did not have an appropriate pre-exam review.
A reexamination involves the VA taking another look at a Veteran’s service-connected disability rating. When you are awarded disability benefits, the VA may schedule a date for reexamination if your condition is expected to improve.
The VA can also order a reexamination when there is evidence that a medical condition has improved. While a reexamination is commonly just a medical examination, a period of hospital observation can be ordered in some cases.
The VA seeks reexaminations to ensure that it is allocating its resources properly. In the rare cases that a Veterans health or disability improves, their benefits need to be reduced.
Most scheduled reexaminations occur within two to five years of the date a Veteran is assigned a disability rating. Some Veterans, such as those with 100 percent disability ratings, cannot have their ratings reduced unless there is a significant material improvement in their conditions.
The VA is required to send a Veteran notice of the need for a reexamination. The VA will usually send a notice of reexamination when the medical evidence on file does not support a continuation of benefits at the current rate.
A Veteran will only have 30 days to request a hearing and 60 days to submit evidence proving that the reduction is not warranted. When benefits are reduced without a Veteran receiving a notice of reexamination letter, the Veteran has the right to have their full benefits reinstated.
Not all Veterans are necessarily subject to reexaminations. Some service-connected disability ratings, for example, are protected and cannot be changed.
Permanent and total (P&T) ratings or other injuries that are considered permanent, such as limb loss, also do not result in reexamination. Unprotected ratings and stabilized ratings can be reduced, and compensation can also be reduced when a Veteran spends more than 60 days in jail.
If you are concerned about a reexamination notice you have received from the VA, you do not have to handle your disability rating by yourself. Make sure that you get the help of an experienced attorney.
Berry Law serves Veterans nationwide and many of our lawyers are Veterans themselves. We can review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.
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