DISABILITY COMPENSATION RE-EVALUATIONS
Many disabled veterans may be due increased V.A. compensation benefits for service-related disabilities and not be aware of it. Disability ratings are based on the limitations and symptoms the veteran had at the time the V.A. last evaluated the veteran. The V.A. generally does not call a veteran back in for re-evaluation more than once in a lifetime. If that condition has worsened, it is up to the veteran to initiate the request for another review.
A typical case might be someone with a service-related orthopedic disability, such as a back condition. This type of injury generally does get worse over the course of time, and a rating given in 1983 may no longer be appropriate.
Perhaps a veteranís service-related condition has created a "secondary" disability. An example of this would be that of a veteran who injured his knee on active duty. He has been receiving compensation for that disability for many years. However, he has had to walk with an altered gait for due to the instability of that knee. This may have caused injury to the back, hips or opposite knee. These secondary conditions could warrant compensation IF the doctor attributes them to the service-related disability.
A rating percentage is "protected" once it is in place for twenty years. There would be no danger of a decreased rating after that point. Veterans whose ratings have been in place for less than 20 years should be confident that there has been no improvement in the disability before requesting a new evaluation.
Your County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) can discuss with you the medical criteria necessary for an increased rating, and what evidence would help you support your claim. You will be assisted throughout the process if a decision is made to re-open the claim. Look under the county government listings to locate your CVSO, or see the website www.wicvso.org.