28 Feb Can You Lose VA Disability Benefits for Bad Behavior?
One Texas veteran’s story is sure to make other veterans think twice before complaining at their local VA hospital. An army veteran received a ticket from the VA hospital police after an angry outburst that included “strong language” toward a VA doctor and nurse. The veteran received regular treatment from his local VA hospital for gastrointestinal paralysis, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries. On his most recent visit, the veteran engaged in an “impassioned conversation” with his treating physician when a nurse overheard the spirited exchange and summoned the VA police. When the veteran overheard the nurse make a derogatory comment about him, the veteran responded by telling the nurse should “resign or die.” The VA hospital police approached the veteran soon after and ticketed him for disorderly conduct. The veteran must travel to Fort Hood to fight the ticket or pay the $250.00 fine, an amount the veteran claims is one-third of his disability payment.
When Can the VA Reduce or Terminate My Benefits?
For some veterans, the thought of the VA imposing a fine for bad behavior or otherwise reducing a veteran’s disability benefits is a frightening prospect. It is not uncommon for veterans and their families to have to make ends meet on little more than the veteran’s disability check and perhaps income from a side venture. For these veterans, knowing the circumstances under which the VA can reduce or terminate their benefits can help alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with uncertainty.
In general, the VA cannot reduce a veteran’s disability benefit rate unless there is a reexamination that shows some significant measure of improvement in the veteran’s condition. For veterans in a protected rate:
· After five years, the VA must show a medical improvement in the veteran’s condition on a sustained (not temporary) basis;
· After 20 years, the VA must show that the veteran’s rating was based on some sort of fraud;
· For those with 100% ratings, the VA must show that the veteran’s physical or mental condition ahs “materially improved.”
Those veterans who do not have a protected benefit rate may still not have their benefits reduced following a reexamination unless:
· There has been an actual improvement in the veteran’s condition;
· The improvement has caused an increased ability to function in life and at work;
· The reexamination report is thorough and complete; and
· The entire medical history of the veteran’s disability has been reviewed.
Generally, the VA cannot completely terminate a veteran’s disability benefits unless the VA made a clear and unmistakable error in granting benefits in the first place, the veteran was granted benefits based on fraud, or if the veteran is sent to jail (in this last circumstance, the VA can terminate or reduce the veteran’s benefits).
Contact the Klok Law Firm LLC to Protect Your Benefits
Veterans who are facing a potential reduction or termination of their disability benefits should seek counsel from an experienced veterans’ disability benefits attorney. At the Klok Law Firm LLC, we help veterans receive and retain the benefits that they have earned. Contact us for help at (843) 216-8860 or toll free at (877) 517-5301.