“Is my rating protected?” It’s a common question we receive from veterans with service-connected ratings. The answer to this varies among cases. The most concrete answer is that if service-connection has been awarded for a disability for a period of ten years or more, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may not remove the service-connection status unless it is found that fraudulence was involved with obtaining service-connection.

If a rating evaluation or percentage has been in effect for 20 years or more, the Department of Veterans Affairs may not reduce the rating to a lower percentage, unless again it is found that fraudulent evidence or actions were involved in obtaining the assigned evaluation.

For those individuals who do not meet the 10- and 20-year Protected Disability Rating regulations, it is a case by case basis. Technically speaking, a designation of service-connection and an established evaluation can be reduced or removed at any time if the (VA) receives evidence that service-connection is not warranted; or if regarding evaluations there is evidence that the condition has improved and no longer meets the severity levels of symptomatology as assigned in the Rating Schedule.

It must also be taken into consideration that an issued Permanent and Total rating is not in fact a protected rating. In these cases, the Permanent portion of the rating refers to the assumption that the disease or disorder is permanent and unceasing in nature and is not likely to improve. In these cases routine clinical evaluations are no longer required by the VA. However, this does not ensure that the rating is protected. If at any time prior to the 10- and 20-year regulations there is evidence presented to the VA that the condition has improved and was not related to military service it is still subject to a possible reduction if warranted.

If the VA is in receipt of such evidence supporting removal or reduction of a rating and benefits, they are required by law to notify the veteran that they are proposing to reduce their benefits due to the designated reasons. The veteran then has 60 days to provide the VA with evidence as to why his or her service-connection or evaluation should not be removed or reduced.

VetsFirst strongly encourages our veterans to consult your appointed representative any time you are submitting evidence, filing claims for benefits and other various inquiries for this reason. We are here to ensure that the evidence and claims submitted do not contain negative information that could potentially impair your rating and will assist you with potential actions and outcomes to deal with such situations.

Melanie Cercone
Veterans Service Representative