7 Types of Protected VA Disability Ratings Explained (Insider’s Guide)

Veteran with fatigues on sofa

Changes in your medical condition are a normal part of life, yet they can cause complications when it comes to your VA disability rating.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

If you are one of the many veterans who’ve filed a claim for compensation, you may fall under one of the seven protected VA disability ratings that prevent your benefits from being reduced.

In this article, we’ll review these categories to help you better understand your rating and whether it is protected.

Which VA Disability Ratings Are Protected?

There are 7 main categories that may keep your VA disability rating protected.

As the name suggests, this rating means a veteran’s disability is permanent. The Department of Veterans Affairs will only grant the rating after reviewing their medical evidence and concluding that the condition will be lifelong.

A veteran’s disability will be rated “Static” if their condition continues with no significant improvement for five years or longer.

10+ Years
Protection is granted to veterans with a condition that has lasted for ten or more years. However, their rating and compensation benefits may be reduced (though not removed) if the VA finds medical proof that shows improvement.

20+ Years
Similarly, those with a condition that has lasted for twenty or more years can expect to receive protection. At this point, the VA cannot reduce their rating below their current level — even if medical records show improvement. Still, there are two exceptions when this rule can be broken:

  • Fraud
    If the veteran’s original rating was based on fraudulent information, the VA is at liberty to reduce their rating despite the 20-year rule
  • Ratings Increase
    If a veteran receives a benefits increase for a condition with an existing rating (for instance, 30% to 40%), the VA can reduce the new rating. However, if the 30% rating had been in place for over 20 years, the VA is unable to reduce it any lower than that amount.

Thanks to the 55-year-old rule, the VA generally considers most elders exempt from re-examinations. Of course, there are certain circumstances where the organization may schedule a re-examination for a veteran older than 55, such as in the case of fraud.

100% VA Rating
As the highest rating a veteran can be granted, the 100% rule prevents the VA from reducing a rating unless medical evidence proves the condition has seen “material improvement.”

The Prescribed Schedular Minimum
Finally, a veteran can expect their rating to be protected if its Diagnostic Code lands within the prescribed schedular minimum, which includes one of the following situations:

  • Even if the VA’s re-evaluation reduced one or more of the veteran’s disabilities, their combined evaluation would not change
  • The veteran’s disability is rated at 10% or less


Dealing with the VA might seem frightening, but by understanding the protections set in place for your claims and compensation, you can continue enjoying your benefits with confidence.

If you or a veteran you know is struggling to maximize their disability benefits, don’t hesitate to contact Veterans Claims United today for your free evaluation.