Can the VA change ratings?


Dear Jim — I won my case in May 2020 and was given a 100% total and permanent rating. I first made my claim in January of 2013 but the VA gave me an effective date of September of 2020, thereby effectively wiping out my back pay. When my attorney challenged them on that they scheduled me for another C&P exam. That resulted in them agreeing to pay me back to 2013 — but at the 70% rate with a proposal to lower my rating to 70%. Needless to say, my attorney is going to challenge this. My question is: How can they get away this? How can they take an exam that was supposed to be about my back pay and use it to try to lower my rating? Nothing is different than before. There has been no improvement in my condition whatsoever, plus I currently have a 100% permanent and total disability scheduler rating (at least until the hearing date when they’ll try to take it away from me) I thought a 100% P&T rating was supposed to protect me from rating reductions. What’s going on here? Are they free to try reduce everyone’s rating no matter what? Any insight into this situation you can provide into this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for everything you do to help veterans. I appreciate it more than I can say.

Jim's Reply:

I wish I could make a rational, informed comment but I can't. The adjudication of any disability claim is complex by it's nature because there are a ton of variables involved. Without knowing the details of your claim I couldn't begin to explain what is happening.

The best I can tell you is that the VA disability process is as flawed as any governmental function you'll find anywhere.

The system is corrupt, committed and consistent leadership is non-existent, employees are poorly trained at their tasks and expectations are kept very low so that VA can meet those goals. The disability rating system was built beginning in the 1940s in America when the average worker was a laborer on a farm. The system has changed little since and is a hodge-podge of nonsensical regulations that have little to do with a more modern health care system and work place.

Is VA free to do what it wants and to deny anyone at any time? Yes. Of course they are. Not that mistakes that harm vets are official policy but inconsistent ratings and evaluations are SOP from rater to rater and VARO to VARO. There is no recrimination since there is no individual responsibility for any errors made. Nobody at VA signs your documents so there is no way to actually find any individual who rated you and ask that person what they were thinking.

Documents that are full of errors, misspellings, incorrect dates, pages from other veterans folders and missing documents are the bread and butter of the VA work product. What you are experiencing is just another day at VA.

Veterans are left with no choice but to do just what you're doing and fight to get what you earned. The VA created an industry of advocates that shouldn't exist. If VA were a friend, why would we need the army of attorneys and VSOs and charitable agencies that exist today? You and your attorney will have to keep at it until they get it right or until Congress fixes things.

My money is on you and your lawyer. Good luck.