Have you ever wondered what the VA disability 5-year rule is? The VA disability 5-year rule is a regulation established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a measure of security for veterans regarding their disability compensation benefits. Under this rule, if the VA has rated a service-connected disability as continuous and unchanged for five years or more, it becomes less likely that they will reduce the rating afterward.
This doesn’t mean reductions are impossible but rather indicates that evidence would need to be quite clear and substantial to justify lowering a veteran’s disability rating after such time. The presumption is that disabilities lasting five years or longer have stabilized, making any future improvement unlikely.
To initiate a reduction in these cases, the VA must demonstrate with medical evidence that there has been an actual improvement in the condition under typical life conditions — not just during periods of rest or abstention from usual activities. Furthermore, should there be any decrease in ratings based on reexaminations post-five-years-rule implementation, those examinations must show sustained improvement over time.
It’s also important to note other related rules like the “10-year rule,” which adds further protection against severance of service connection status unless fraud was involved in obtaining it, and the “20-year rule” protects specific ratings from being reduced below their lowest level within two decades.
Veterans navigating through claims processes benefit significantly from understanding these regulations as they manage their health care plans and financial stability tied directly into these entitlements provided by law due to acknowledgment of sacrifices made during military service.
See the 2024 VA Disability Chart here.