What Happens if I Have Been Service Connected for 20 Years?
Has your service-connected disability evaluation been assigned for over 20 years, or are you nearing your 20-year mark for the evaluation? Are you wanting to file an increase on this issue but afraid of facing a decrease? Well, there are some important things to understand once you reach this mark and how it affects your service connected disability evaluation. Most Veterans do not know or understand if a particular issue has been evaluated at a particular level for 20 years or more that they are, according to VA.gov, “locked-in” on that rating and it can never be decreased. This means your disability evaluation has shown for the past 20 years that it has been consistently the same or worse and has not gotten better over time.
Now there is one circumstance that can cause you to lose your service connection or rating, and that is if the VA proves that you have been fraudulent in your claim. Other than that, it cannot be decreased in the future. For example, let’s say you are service connected on your left knee for 30 percent and you have had that same rating for the past 20 years. This means that if you decide to file for an increase on the disability, then it will not be decreased below the 30 percent mark. You might stay at 30 percent or get an increase, maybe to 50 percent; however, you will not receive a rating below 30 or lose service connection all together.
Now, to ensure you meet the 20-year mark, check with the VA or look at a previous rating decision to see the date of the grant and the date of a particular evaluation. If it does not meet the 20-year mark, then you will be susceptible to re-examination and this could result in a decrease if the VA finds your disability has gotten better. So it is very important to check your rating dates before filing an increase.
If at any point you are unsure about your disabilities, ratings, and/or grant dates, then feel free to contact us at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, and we will be more than happy to take a look at your file. You can find us at www.fight4vets.com or call us at 1-877-VETERAN.