Stabilization of a disability


Jim, I was awarded 100% disability by the VA effective Aug 2, 2001. About a year and a half ago I quit taking bipolar medication as I was worried what all these years has done to my brain. A couple months ago my mental health NP noted that she has not seen any symptoms of bipolar in me, but because I have been in a lot of pain from back problems, she will reevaluate this after Ive healed from May 29, 20, lumbar surgery. Im 66 years old. Can they reduced or eliminate my benefits? Can they make me be reevaluated by a Psychiatrist? A psychiatrist outside the VA in 1991 diagnosed me originally. Thank you,

Jim's Reply:

Disability ratings for conditions that have stabilized over time are generally not reviewed.  

Then we have 38 CFR § 3.951 - Preservation of disability ratings (b) A disability which has been continuously rated at or above any evaluation of disability for 20 or more years for compensation purposes under laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be reduced to less than such evaluation except upon a showing that such rating was based on fraud. 

It appears you're at 19 years and counting, very close to a totally protected rating.

If I were you I'd not worry about it. While stranger things have happened, it's very unlikely that VA would attempt to modify your rating based on a comment by a nurse practitioner. To do so would be a very steep hill for VA to climb and I don't see that happening. While I do understand that it's a challenge to 'not worry' but the fact is that there isn't anything preemptive that can be done. 

If VA ever did make a move to modify your benefit you'll have plenty of time to, no worries!