What If My Service-Connected Disability Has Worsened Since My Last Rating?

If your service-connected disability has worsened since your last rating, you can file to increase your United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability rating.

Why You Should Consider Filing to Increase Your Rating

It is not uncommon for a disability to worsen at some point after you have begun receiving VA benefits.

In some cases, your functional ability decreases, or in others, your pain might increase, or your symptoms pose a greater challenge for you in your day-to-day life.

VA assigned your rating based on the degree of your disability, so if that degree has increased, it stands to reason that your rating should increase, too. VA provides a process for resolving this type of situation.

Before You File for a Rating Increase, Be Aware of the Potential Consequences

Although the process itself is not complicated, the results may surprise you—in fact, they could work against you. Filing to increase your VA disability rating can actually result in VA lowering your disability rating if the VA determines that your condition has improved.

Reasons for Filing to Increase Your Rating That Will Not Increase Your Rating

You should consider filing to increase your rating if you feel your service-connected disability has worsened or maybe you feel as though your rating never properly captured the severity of your condition. But do not request this increase for any of the following reasons:

  • You are in financial trouble
  • You have gained new financial responsibilities
  • A cost of living increase has placed a strain on your livelihood

If any of the above reasons match your motive for filing for a rate increase, be prepared for VA not granting your increase request.

How to File to Increase Your VA Disability Rating

You can file to increase your VA disability rating by completing and submitting to the VA Regional Office (VARO) a Form 21-526EZ. You should also include a statement that your disability or condition has worsened.

How Filing for an Increased Rating Might Lower Your Rating

When you submit a request for a rating increase, you are basically asking for VA to review your entire VA disability file. After all, the basis of your appeal is comparative in nature. VA has to consider not only the information you submit about your current condition, but also how it compares with the condition reported when VA determined your current rating.

VA’s Guidelines for Evaluating Adjustments to Your VA Disability Benefits

VA’s reevaluation of your condition can produce confusing results. Consider some of VA’s guidelines:

In cases where a veterans’ service-connected disability rating has been established for:

  • More than five years: VA cannot reduce your rating without proving that your condition has shown sustained improvement which will be maintained under the ordinary conditions of life.
  • 10 or more years: VA is entitled to lower benefits, but the agency is not likely to terminate (sever) benefits unless there is evidence of fraud.
  • 20 years: VA will not lower your disability rating past the lowest rating the veteran has been awarded in this timeframe unless there is evidence of fraud.

If You Filed For an Increased Rating and You Were Denied an Increase or The VA Reduced Your Rating, Get Help From a VA Disability Lawyer

VA disability lawyers know how the VA works. This VA legal help can steer you in the right direction to get where you need to be with your VA disability rating, whether that means appealing for a rating increase or appealing a VA decision which reduces your rating.

Call (888) 392-5392 for more information.