How Long Does VA Disability Last?
After spending years of their lives defending our country, military veterans deserve to be taken care of when they’re disabled by injury or illness. That’s why the federal government offers disability benefits to sick and injured veterans.
Unfortunately, these benefits can be hard to obtain, and the rules that determine how they’re awarded can be difficult to understand. Even basic questions like, “How long do VA disability benefits last?” can be challenging to answer.
If you have questions about disability benefits for veterans, the disability lawyers at the law offices of Derek L. Hall, PC can help. Hall and his team have been helping people throughout Mississippi with legal representation for more than 25 years. Unlike larger firms, we make sure you have direct access to your attorney whenever you need it, and we provide 24/7 access to your case file online.
You can call our office or visit our contact page for a free initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.
How Are Veterans Disability Benefits Originally Determined?
The first step to obtaining disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to see if you qualify for benefits.
According to the VA website, to be eligible for benefits, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have served in the armed forces, which includes active-duty service, active-duty training, and inactive-duty training.
- You were injured or got sick during your service, and that illness or injury is related to your service.
- You can also qualify for disability benefits if you had a pre-existing injury or illness that was aggravated by your service in the military.
- You can also qualify for disability benefits if your disability is related to your military service, but it did not appear until after you had finished your service.
Veterans and certain dependents can apply for benefits. Generally, you will need supporting documentation of your disability from a doctor, but there are a few cases when someone is presumed to have a disability, which makes the application process go more quickly.
These cases include:
- A chronic illness that appears within one year of a veteran being initially discharged from service
- An illness caused by long-term exposure to certain hazardous materials
- An illness or injury caused by time spent as a prisoner of war
Once you file your initial application, the VA will take a look at the documents you provided and determine if you are eligible for benefits. In some cases, you will need to undergo an exam from a VA-selected doctor to make sure you qualify for benefits. If you are deemed eligible, the VA will assign you a disability rating. These ratings are in 10 percent increments and determine how much you will receive in benefits. Once you’ve been assigned a rating, you will begin to receive benefits for as long as the disability continues.
When May the VA Reduce My Disability Compensation?
In most cases, the VA will want to re-evaluate your case after a certain period of time to see if your condition has improved. The likelihood of the VA re-evaluating your case will depend on the nature of your injury or illness and how likely your condition is to improve. For example, veterans over the age of 55 are not likely to have a re-evaluation exam scheduled because their age means their condition is unlikely to improve. The same is true for veterans who have already been receiving benefits for several years.
If the VA determines that your illness or injury has gotten better after another examination, they may assign you a lower disability rating, which would lower your compensation. If they determine that you are no longer disabled, they can cut off your disability benefits entirely.
It’s important to know that if a veteran receives a 100 percent disability rating — in other words, if they are deemed to be completely and permanently disabled — they generally cannot have those benefits reduced or dropped unless a medical exam shows “material improvement” in their condition. If the veteran has been receiving disability benefits for 20 years or longer, these benefits cannot be reduced at all.
Is It Possible for a Veteran to Lose Disability Benefits?
There are a few ways that a veteran can lose their disability benefits. The first and most common way is if their medical condition improves to the point that they are no longer disabled.
The other ways by which someone can lose their VA disability benefits generally involve an element of deception or fraud. For example, accepting benefits for which you are not eligible could lead to you losing those benefits, in addition to gaining you criminal penalties.
Certain crimes against the federal government, such as treason or mutiny, can also result in the loss of VA benefits. If you are convicted of a crime and are sentenced to more than 60 days in jail, your benefits will either be reduced or dropped after your 60th day in jail until you are released.
Talk to an Experienced VA Benefits Lawyer in Jackson Now
If you’re a veteran applying for disability benefits, you should speak to a disability lawyer as soon as possible. This process can be complicated. You’ll want to make sure you have extensive documentation of your disabilities before filing your application. A disability attorney can help you gather the information you need and make sure that your injuries are fully substantiated.
A disability lawyer can also help your case in other ways. If you’ve been receiving benefits and the VA is seeking to have them lowered, an attorney can help show that your condition has not improved and that your benefits should continue at the existing rate. If your initial application for benefits is denied, a lawyer can help you file an appeal to make sure you get the money you need.
Don’t wait to speak to an experienced VA benefits attorney. Call the office of Derek L. Hall, PC today or visit our contact page for a free case review.