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Can They Make You Have Surgery?



I am an 80% disabled. One of the disabilities is my left knee. I have been told by my orthopedic doctor that he would like to do a knee replacement. This might seem funny to ask, but I do not want to have this operation, at least not at this time. Maybe in a few years, but I just do not want to go through it at this time. Can they say to me that since I do not want the operation, they will lower my disability?

I do understand that after a complete knee replacement they would say I am all better and take that disability away for the knee. This is not the reason I want to forstall the sergery.

Also, I once heard that once you are on collecting VA disability for, lets say 30 years, it becomes permenent. Is this true? If true is it for the disability you are currently getting. I am 62 years old, if that matters.

Thanks for any help.

Tom Meggison

Rochester, NY


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1. No you cannot be told to have surgery or they will lower your compensation.

2. If a disability is continuously held for 20 years it is protected from reduction unless fraud was involved.

On the protected status it works like this:

Say you have a 50% rating already for 5 years and then 5 years later it is raised to 70%. Each rating is working its OWN 20 year clock. So when the 10 year mark was hit the 50% was 10 years into the 20 year clock. The 70% granted is now beginning it's own 20 year clock.

If the 70% rating is dropped to 50% then the 50% rating clock is still counting but the 70% clock is stopped.

20 years continously holding a rating is the key.

38 CFR 3.951( b )

Edited by itsabouttime
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Tom- I see you are near my neck of the woods-

I would not let them do this -if you dont want it-

They wanted to operate on my neighbor at the Buffalo VAMC last year for hip replacement-

only problem is -he never needed hip replacement-

then again they (VA Buffalo) saved a friend of mine's life by catching and operating on a condition that the Bath VAMC misdiagnosed.

I think any potential VA surgery should get a private second opinion first.

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Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient's consent, commits an assault [battery], for which he is liable in damages. Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospital, 105 N.E. 92 (N.Y. 1914)

NOTE: In order to give informed consent, the patient must have decision-making capacity,

be fully informed, and participate voluntarily (see below, VHA Handbook 1004.1 - Informed Consent for Clinical Procedures and Treatments).


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Thank you all for the help, it is really appreciated.



SS-566 & 568

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