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Veterans' Advocate and "all 'round good guy," Jim is available to answer questions for Veterans and their families on a wide variety of issues. He has dealt extensively with the VA and has a background in the medical field.
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Jim Strickland Disability Benefits Guide
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This is not legal advice. You should always seek the advice of an attorney who is qualified in Veterans' law before you make any decisions about your own benefits. Visit Stateside Legal (below) for assistance with legal issues.

NOTE:  Letters in my Q&A columns are reprinted just as they come to me. Spelling and grammar are left as is and only small corrections are made to improve readability, ensure anonymity or delete expletives that may offend some readers. This is not legal advice. You should always seek the advice of an attorney who is qualified in Veterans' law before you make any decisions about your own benefits.

                  How To Increase An Existing Rating

The veteran who has an existing condition or conditions that are rated and compensated as service connected may experience a worsening of the condition with time.

At any point along the way, the veteran who believes that the existing rating is too low may ask for an increase. To request or file for an increase is a simple procedure. The veteran need only to write a letter to the VA Regional Office and clearly state that he or she believes that an increase in the benefit is appropriate, why you believe that an increase is proper and then provide evidence to support the claim for an increase.

The usual process will begin. The veteran will be notified by letter that the VARO has received the veteran's request and evidence will be requested. A Compensation and Pension examination will be scheduled, medical records reviewed and a decision will be made by a Ratings Veterans Service Representative.

If your request to increase your rating is denied, all the usual appeals processes apply so if you feel strongly about your case, you should proceed to the appropriate type of appeal.

I'm often asked if there is a risk to requesting an increase in an existing rating. The answer is always, "Yes". Your VA is always on the lookout to ensure that you are "appropriately" rated. This means that your percentage of disability rating should match your physical condition as closely as possible at all times.

Your VA practices this theory to enforce the lowest rating possible. Any time you request an increase brings your file under scrutiny of an individual who has as the first order of business to review it for any errors that may have caused you to receive a rating higher than you deserve.

I've seen numerous instances of veterans who request that their rating be increased from 50% to 70% and they receive back a "Notice of Proposal To Reduce Benefits" to 20%. The usual reason given by VA is an "improvement" of the rated condition.

Be sure to use Jim's:  "A to Z GUIDE OF VETERANS DISABILITY COMPENSATION BENEFITS" click here...  

And, for answers to questions and great advice, go to Jim's discussion board, "STRAIGHT TALK FOR MILITARY VETERANS" click here...

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