When veterans file for disability with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), one common question often arises: Are VA disability benefits for life? The answer to this question is not straightforward, as it depends on various factors.
Eligibility for VA Disability Benefits
To qualify for VA disability benefits, veterans must meet three basic requirements:
- Service in the United States Armed Forces: This includes all branches, such as the National Guard, Coast Guard, and the Space Force.
- A current illness, injury, or disability: Both physical and mental conditions are eligible for VA disability benefits.
- The condition’s relation to military service: The recipient’s state must be either caused by or worsened by their service, regardless of whether they were on active or reserve duty.
Qualified dependents, including spouses, partners, and children, can also be eligible for VA disability benefits.
However, it’s important to note that veterans with certain types of discharges, such as “other than honorable,” “bad conduct,” and “dishonorable” discharges, may not qualify for these benefits.
No Expiration Date for VA Disability Benefits
Contrary to popular belief, VA disability benefits do not have an expiration date. If you are eligible and receive gifts, they will continue until you pass away or your condition significantly improves.
These benefits are closely tied to the state, meaning they do not necessarily last forever. However, there’s an exception to this rule.
The VA can classify a veteran as “totally and permanently disabled” if their condition is exceptionally severe. In this case, VA benefits continue for life unless there’s evidence of VA claim fraud. For those without total and permanent disability, VA benefits are contingent on the ongoing status of the condition.
Periodic Reviews and the VA 20-Year Rule
The VA periodically reviews veterans’ disability to assess their health. These reviews do not follow a fixed schedule; instead, they depend on the VA and the nature of the condition. The timing of these reviews can vary widely.
Some veterans may receive benefits for several months or a couple of years before the VA initiates a review. When a study is conducted, veterans may be required to undergo a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam, which includes a medical history review and an essential physical examination.
The outcome of the C&P exam determines whether the VA will continue to provide disability benefits or decide that the condition has improved significantly.
If the VA opts to terminate benefits, they must clearly state the reasons for doing so, and veterans have the right to appeal VA decisions.
To maximize your chances of a successful outcome when dealing with the VA, it is advisable to consult with an experienced VA disability lawyer. Their expertise can prove invaluable in navigating the complexities of the VA claims process.
For veterans who have a disability rating for 20 years, the VA has a rule in place that provides protection.
The VA cannot reduce a veteran’s disability rating below their original rating unless fraud is involved.
This rule, known as the VA 20-year rule, offers reassurance to veterans living with service-connected disabilities for two decades.