How to Increase Your VA Disability Rating
Posted by Vets National Advocates on January 05, 2015 in Veterans' Benefits
Many types of medical conditions get worse over time. If you are a veteran receiving disability benefits from the VA, you have the right to request that your rating be increased if your medical condition causes your health to deteriorate.
Before you file for an increase in your disability rating, make sure you know what you can expect from the VA, and be prepared for both the best and worst outcomes you might face after requesting a disability rating increase.
Step One: Weigh the Consequences of Requesting an Increase
Any time you ask the VA to look at your disability rating, your entire benefits claim will be reviewed. It is entirely possible that the VA may decide to decrease your rating based on changes to your injury or changes to your circumstances. In addition, the VA may find errors in your initial benefits award, and could reduce your benefits accordingly.
Before you decide to file for an increased rating, make sure that the medical evidence backs up your claim. Compare your condition with the Schedule of Ratings that the VA uses, and get your doctors opinion about your chances of success. Make sure that your request is based on an actual increased disability, and not a need for increased benefits.
Step Two: Determine What Type of Request to Make
The procedures you need to follow to increase your disability rating depends on when your benefits were awarded. If it has been less than a year since you were awarded disability benefits, you will actually need to file an appeal, not a request for reconsideration.
An appeal generally requires a series of requests for reconsideration, hearings, and possibly court proceedings. In comparison, if it has been more than a year since your benefits were awarded, you can request that your rating be reevaluated simply by filling out a form.
Step Three: Compile Medical Evidence
In order to justify an increase in your disability rating, your disability must have worsened. The VA will not just take your word that you are feeling worseyou will need to compile medical evidence supporting your claims.
If you have been treated by private doctors, you will need to include Form 21-4142 with your request for an increase. This form will authorize your private doctors to speak with the VA and release your medical records.
If you have only been treated by VA doctors, you will need to submit the name and address of the VA Medical Center or other military facility which has your relevant treatment records.
Step Four: Fill Out Form 21-526b.
If it has been over a year since your disability benefits were awarded, the procedure for requesting an increase is relatively simple. You will need to fill out Form 21-526b, and provide the VA with any additional medical records which support your claim. Form 21-526b allows veterans to request increased compensation because of an increased disability, a new service-connected disability, a secondary disability to your original disability claim, or allows you to request the reopening of a previously denied claim. You may also choose to write a letter to include with this form, explaining why you believe your rating should be increased.
If it has been less than a year since your benefits were awarded, you will need to file an appeal of your entire claim in order to increase your rating. This procedure is significantly more complicated, and may require you to attend hearings and complete additional paperwork. Veteran representatives like those at Vets National Advocates can help you through the appeals process, and make sure you are getting the benefits you deserve.
Step Five: Appeal if Necessary
If your request for an increase has been denied, or if your benefits were decreased after a reevaluation, you have the right to appeal the VAs decision.
If you are considering filing an appeal, make sure you have the assistance you need to make a successful claim. Call Vets National Advocates today, and have your benefits claim reviewed for free. You fought for our country, now let our advocates fight for you!