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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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5,10, 20 Rule


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The 5, 10, 20 year rules...
Five Year Rule) If you have had the same rating for five or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless your condition has improved on a sustained basis. All the medical evidence, not just the reexamination report, must support the conclusion that your improvement is more than temporary.
Ten Year Rule) The 10 year rule is after 10 years, the service connection is protected from being dropped.
Twenty Year Rule) If your disability has been continuously rated at or above a certain rating level for 20 or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless it finds the rating was based on fraud. This is a very high standard and it's unlikely the rating would get reduced.
If you are 100% for 20 years (Either 100% schedular or 100% TDIU - Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability or IU), you are automatically Permanent & Total (P&T). And, that after 20 years the total disability (100% or IU) is protected from reduction for the remainder of the person's life. "M-21-1-IX.ii.2.1.j. When a P&T Disability Exists"
At 55, P&T (Permanent & Total) or a few other reasons the VBA will not initiate a review. Here is the graphic below for that. However if the Veteran files a new compensation claim or files for an increase, then it is YOU that initiated to possible review.
NOTE: Until a percentage is in place for 10 years, the service connection can be removed. After that, the service connection is protected.
------
Example for 2020 using the same disability rating
1998 - Initially Service Connected @ 10%
RESULT: Service Connection Protected in 2008
RESULT: 10% Protected from reduction in 2018 (20 years)
2020 - Service Connection Increased @ 30%
RESULT: 30% is Protected from reduction in 2040 (20 years)
2022 - Service Connection Increased @ 50%
RESULT: 50% is Protected from reduction in 2042 (20 years)
-------
Second example for 2020:
Example of protected percentages:
• A Veteran gets awarded @ 30% in 1991.
• The Veteran files for an increase and is awarded 70% in 2004.
• The Veteran files for and is awarded TDIU status in 2005.
---------
RESULT: In 2001 (10 years), the condition's service connection is protected.
RESULT: In 2011 (20 years), the 30% is protected from reduction (except for fraud).
RESULT: In 2024 (20 years), the 70% is protected from reduction.
RESULT: In 2025 (20 years), the TDIU is no longer monitored yearly for income and is protected from reduction. In addition, the Veteran is automatically P&T.
For clarity on the 5 year rule: This says the VBA must have proof of sustained improvement. An example might be when a Veteran has a mental health condition yet does not go to a psychologist/psychiatrist. Or, if the Veteran never has his service connected back status noted in the current medical records. Those situations would suggest a sustained improvement because the Veteran did not seek treatment or therapy or at a minimum get a current status noted in the medical records.
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The 5, 10, 20 year rules... Five Year Rule) If you have had the same rating for five or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless your condition has improved on a sustained basis. All th

P and T is the same as 5 years, as far as rating protections go.  Source:  38 CFR 3.344 which states: Note:  When you are awarded P and T, the VA is admitting that "you are unlikely to imp

@broncovet that is correct. My claims were stuck in appeal for over five years. When I finally won the increase to 100%, the effective date was in effect for more than five years. They followed the pr

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P & T is not subject to a 20 year rating.  Depending on the type and severity of the disability, P & T can be granted at any stage of a rating. When I was granted service connection for fibromyalgia, VA also granted me P & T along with that rating.  When a veteran is granted 100% scheduler and or 100% TDIU, VA can also grant the veteran P & T. Keep in mind that (P & T) permanent total disability could be taken to exist when the impairment is reasonably certain to continue throughout the life of the disabled person.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

@pacmanx1 is correct. My P&T was granted five years after the effective date.

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P and T is the same as 5 years, as far as rating protections go. 

Source:  38 CFR 3.344 which states:

Quote

(c) Disabilities which are likely to improve. The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section apply to ratings which have continued for long periods at the same level (5 years or more). They do not apply to disabilities which have not become stabilized and are likely to improve. Reexaminations disclosing improvement, physical or mental, in these disabilities will warrant reduction in rating.

Note:  When you are awarded P and T, the VA is admitting that "you are unlikely to improve".  

You should always check with 38 CFR 3.344 for more information on rating protections.  While I appreciate Ddsr's "summary" of 38 CFR 3.344, it could be important to a Veteran because this regulation explains it in more detail, which I will highlight in BOLD:  (Remember, 38 CFR 3.344a and 38 CFR3.344b ONLY apply if you are P and T or have been rated 5 years or more:

Quote
§ 3.344 Stabilization of disability evaluations.

(a) Examination reports indicating improvement. Rating agencies will handle cases affected by change of medical findings or diagnosis, so as to produce the greatest degree of stability of disability evaluations consistent with the laws and Department of Veterans Affairs regulations governing disability compensation and pension. It is essential that the entire record of examinations and the medical-industrial history be reviewed to ascertain whether the recent examination is full and complete, including all special examinations indicated as a result of general examination and the entire case history. This applies to treatment of intercurrent diseases and exacerbations, including hospital reports, bedside examinations, examinations by designated physicians, and examinations in the absence of, or without taking full advantage of, laboratory facilities and the cooperation of specialists in related lines. Examinations less full and complete than those on which payments were authorized or continued will not be used as a basis of reduction. Ratings on account of diseases subject to temporary or episodic improvement, e.g., manic depressive or other psychotic reaction, epilepsy, psychoneurotic reaction, arteriosclerotic heart disease, bronchial asthma, gastric or duodenal ulcer, many skin diseases, etc., will not be reduced on any one examination, except in those instances where all the evidence of record clearly warrants the conclusion that sustained improvement has been demonstrated. Ratings on account of diseases which become comparatively symptom free (findings absent) after prolonged rest, e.g. residuals of phlebitis, arteriosclerotic heart disease, etc., will not be reduced on examinations reflecting the results of bed rest. Moreover, though material improvement in the physical or mental condition is clearly reflected the rating agency will consider whether the evidence makes it reasonably certain that the improvement will be maintained under the ordinary conditions of life. When syphilis of the central nervous system or alcoholic deterioration is diagnosed following a long prior history of psychosis, psychoneurosis, epilepsy, or the like, it is rarely possible to exclude persistence, in masked form, of the preceding innocently acquired manifestations. Rating boards encountering a change of diagnosis will exercise caution in the determination as to whether a change in diagnosis represents no more than a progression of an earlier diagnosis, an error in prior diagnosis or possibly a disease entity independent of the service-connected disability. When the new diagnosis reflects mental deficiency or personality disorder only, the possibility of only temporary remission of a super-imposed psychiatric disease will be borne in mind.

(b) Doubtful cases. If doubt remains, after according due consideration to all the evidence developed by the several items discussed in paragraph (a) of this section, the rating agency will continue the rating in effect, citing the former diagnosis with the new diagnosis in parentheses, and following the appropriate code there will be added the reference “Rating continued pending reexamination ___ months from this date, § 3.344.” The rating agency will determine on the basis of the facts in each individual case whether 18, 24 or 30 months will be allowed to elapse before the reexamination will be made.

 

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@broncovet that is correct. My claims were stuck in appeal for over five years. When I finally won the increase to 100%, the effective date was in effect for more than five years. They followed the process correctly and granted P&T status.

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      I was granted 70% SC for mental condition on Feb 18, 2011.  Date of application was January, 2010.  In either case it has now been over 10 years regardless of which date is used so SC status is secure, though rating percentage is not.  I was granted SS disability in 2018 for the same reason as the VA SC rating, on the first try with no appeal.  Does SS determination create an automatic presumption against lowering of rating, or greatly argue for not "improved on a sustained basis?"  I have put off applying for TDIU for a while but believe I should now.  I have an application with the county rep prepared and ready to go.  I am 65, have not worked since May 2016.   The SS determination is included as part of the TDIU application. 
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    • 5,10, 20 Rule
      The 5, 10, 20 year rules...



      Five Year Rule) If you have had the same rating for five or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless your condition has improved on a sustained basis. All the medical evidence, not just the reexamination report, must support the conclusion that your improvement is more than temporary.



      Ten Year Rule) The 10 year rule is after 10 years, the service connection is protected from being dropped.



      Twenty Year Rule) If your disability has been continuously rated at or above a certain rating level for 20 or more years, the VA cannot reduce your rating unless it finds the rating was based on fraud. This is a very high standard and it's unlikely the rating would get reduced.



      If you are 100% for 20 years (Either 100% schedular or 100% TDIU - Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability or IU), you are automatically Permanent & Total (P&T). And, that after 20 years the total disability (100% or IU) is protected from reduction for the remainder of the person's life. "M-21-1-IX.ii.2.1.j. When a P&T Disability Exists"



      At 55, P&T (Permanent & Total) or a few other reasons the VBA will not initiate a review. Here is the graphic below for that. However if the Veteran files a new compensation claim or files for an increase, then it is YOU that initiated to possible review.



      NOTE: Until a percentage is in place for 10 years, the service connection can be removed. After that, the service connection is protected.



      ------



      Example for 2020 using the same disability rating



      1998 - Initially Service Connected @ 10%



      RESULT: Service Connection Protected in 2008



      RESULT: 10% Protected from reduction in 2018 (20 years)



      2020 - Service Connection Increased @ 30%



      RESULT: 30% is Protected from reduction in 2040 (20 years)
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