I am already receiving VA Disability Compensation benefits, but my disability has worsened. Can I apply for an increased rating?
Yes! If your medical condition has deteriorated since you received your disability rating, or if you think the VA made the wrong decision regarding your disability rating, you should ask the VA to take a second look.
When can I request an increased disability rating?
You can apply at any time for an increased disability rating based on an actual worsening of your disability. There is no time limit for filing such a claim, but you should be aware that the VA will only go back one year from the date of your application to determine the date from which you can start receiving additional benefits. So, if you wait too long, you may be losing out on valuable benefits to which you are entitled.
How do I request an increased disability rating?
If you were recently awarded disability benefits and you are within the time you have to appeal, you will need to file an appeal to request an increase. See my prior post for deadlines for each level of appeal (or you can look at your most recent decision letter from the VA). In comparison, if you are out of time to file an appeal, you will need to submit VA Form 21-526b to file a Supplemental Claim and request that your rating be increased.
What do I need to tell the VA?
When you file your appeal or Supplemental Claim, you will need to tell the VA why you believe your condition warrants an increased rating, and provide information regarding your medical treatment. If you are able to collect your own medical records and submit them to the VA, that may help your chances of getting approved, and should speed up the process. Additionally, be sure to tell the VA about any new conditions you may have, as this could increase your combined disability rating.
Is there any risk to requesting an increased rating?
There is some risk. Any time you ask the VA to look at your disability rating, your entire benefits claim will be reviewed. Thus, the VA could decrease your rating if they find evidence that your condition or circumstances warrant a decreased rating, i.e., your condition has improved, or they made the wrong decision the first time.
When filing for an increased rating, make sure you aren’t filing just because you need more money every month. Your request has to be based on an actual deterioration in your condition or an incorrect evaluation of your disability rating. You want to ensure that the medical evidence supports your claim for an increased rating.
Don’t get complacent and think that once you receive your rating, that will be your rating forever. The VA understands that medical conditions evolve over time, so be your own best advocate and speak up if your condition gets worse. #neversettle