Veterans dealing with disability may feel alone. They may feel as if no ordinary person can understand their struggles and their demons. Many veterans become depressed. They turn to drugs and alcohol. They lose a piece of themselves as their lives slip away.
Disability can be the veteran’s worst nightmare. Minute after minute, day after day.
If you or someone you know is a wounded veteran, there is no time to wait. The longer a disabled veteran waits the worst the pain becomes. The more debilitating the disabling condition becomes. Mental and physical disabilities are serious. They can last for a long time. With time, veterans’ disabilities may become significantly worse.
Fortunately, there is hope.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a federal agency that has been assisting disabled vets and their families for years. In fact, the agency helps with an array of things, including:
- Work rehabilitation
- Life insurance
- Educational aid
- Home loans
- Disability compensation; and
- Memorial and burial benefits
However, one of the most well-known programs in the VA is the disability compensation program. This program provides direct monthly payments that help disabled vets and their families to lead more normal lives. With the help of VA Disability Benefits, many veterans can return to a sense of peace and happiness.
VA disability payments are delivered only to approved veterans with disabilities. A qualifying veteran must have an illness or injury that can be linked to service. Although the illness or injury may not have occurred during active duty, that illness or injury must be somehow connected to such duty.
This is called a “service-connected condition.”
An eligible disabled veteran must also show that his or her discharge was not dishonorable. If a veteran qualifies for disability benefits, the amount of those benefits may vary. Veterans with more severe conditions, or with lost limbs, will receive higher compensation.
When applying for disability benefits from the VA, a disabled veteran can apply in three ways. An applicant can complete the application online or in-person. An applicant can also complete the disability benefits application at home and then mail it.
However, before completing this application, the veteran should be well aware of particular requirements.
Understanding VA Benefits for Disabled Veterans
Many people who apply for disability benefits for the first time are denied. This happens for a number of reasons. Firstly, many veterans fail to realize that their injuries or illnesses are unrelated. Some veterans fail to qualify due to dishonorable discharge. Other veterans simply make filing errors on their applications.
In many cases, the VA will require extensive medical and vocational documentation. The Veterans Administration may also request additional information from a variety of specialists and experts. Failure to provide certain information in a certain time frame can lead to an application denial.
Unfortunately, many appeals do not go well either. According to The Board of Veterans’ Appeals Annual Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, less than 36 percent of appeals were successful.
This is why it’s important that all veterans with disabilities act quickly and reasonably. A disabled applicant should never enter the application process clueless. It is vital that all applicants understand the process and anticipate the difficulties.
This can be achieved. With the help of a seasoned veteran’s attorney, many applicants will improve their likelihood of success. A VA benefits attorney can make a big difference.
Finding The Right Veterans Disability Lawyer
If you are a veteran applying for benefits, it is wise to find an attorney right for you. VA lawyers are experienced, accredited, and accomplished. If you are looking for a top-notch lawyer, you want a professional who is VA-accredited. This should be your first consideration.
You can easily determine the accreditation of prospective attorneys by visiting the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) website. This online directory shows all representatives accredited by the VA. This site will also list those professionals permitted to practice before veterans appeals courts.
You should never settle for an attorney who won’t represent you fully. In other words, your prospective VA lawyer should be able to represent you through all stages of appeal, if needed.
Attorneys can represent clients through to the final Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
Attorneys are also great for meeting deadlines. Your attorney can ensure that your questions and concerns are addressed in a timely manner. With the help of a disability lawyer, you may get your application processed more quickly.
Veterans Disability Attorneys will also help clients obtain necessary medical information. Your attorney can complete the complicated paperwork as well. Many legal professionals will even conduct extensive research on VA case laws and precedents. This can significantly help your case.
VA attorneys are critical for a number of reasons. Although there are free options for application assistance, these options are limited. A VA benefits attorney is focused on you, because you are the client.
Meanwhile, many free organizations are slowed by bureaucracy and lack of staff.
With a lawyer, you have a professional at your side at all times. If your application goes to appeal, your lawyer can ensure that you don’t miss deadlines for replies, conferences and briefs.
Most top veteran’s benefits lawyers have no up-front costs. If you don’t win your claim, you shouldn’t have to pay. If you win, your lawyer will collect a percentage of your awarded amount as payment. These fees range between 20% and 33% of the amount.
Overall, a top VA benefits lawyer can make a world of difference. However, there is a limit to what your legal professional can do. Even Veterans Disability experts can only help so much. If you simply don’t qualify, you don’t qualify.
This is why it’s important that every applicant understand the process. Before you apply for disability compensation, be sure that you are eligible.
VA Compensation Benefits Criteria
When applying for disability benefits, veterans should recognize the important requirements for eligibility. Not all medical conditions are considered ‘service-connected.’ In fact, the VA may deny an application if the condition is determined unrelated to service.
The important criteria involved in the eligibility process should not be overlooked. The applicant must have an illness or injury that is current. This condition must impact the body or mind, and the applicant must have served in one of the following capacities:
- Active duty
- Active duty for training; or
- Inactive duty training
Furthermore, the veteran applicant must also have what is called a “disability rating.” This rating is assigned by the VA based on the severity of the illness or injury. Applicants will receive a percentage rating from 10% to 100%.
Veterans with 100% ratings are considered 100% disabled. As a result, these veterans may receive 100 Percent Disabled Veterans Benefits. The VA will use a variety of medical evidence to reach this rating determination.
When assessing a veteran for illness or injury, the VA must be able to link that illness or injury to service. The VA assesses these illnesses and injuries based on three types of disabilities. Each of these types comes with a different disability claim. However, all must be service-connected.
A disabled vet must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Became ill or injured during military service (inservice disability claim)
- Became more ill or injured as the result of military service (preservice disability claim)
- Became ill or injured after military service (postservice disability claim)
The veteran must be able to show how a certain claim is linked to military service. If the VA determines that the condition is not connected to service, the claim will be denied for Disabled Veteran Benefits.
In some cases, veterans may present with what are called “presumed disabilities.” These disabilities are presumed to be related to a particular part of one’s service. Such disabilities are usually chronic and may be caused by hazardous materials.
Illnesses caused by prisoner of war (POW) status are also presumed. Due to the special nature of these conditions, applicants may be awarded benefits more quickly.
Of course, there are no guarantees. Many top-notch VA attorneys have to help clients appeal, even when those clients fully expect to receive compensation. In some cases, even severely disabled applicants are denied due to some mistake or error in the process.
In other cases, veterans receive disability ratings that are inadequate. If your disability rating is low, you may receive significantly less compensation than if your rating were high. The VA considers multiple pieces of information when determining your rating.
Firstly, it is critical that you provide substantial medical evidence. You should have documentation showing doctors’ reports, test results and treatment plans. If need be, consult specialists who can more thoroughly evaluate your illnesses and injuries.
The VA will also consider information from federal agencies and other sources. If the VA wants more information on your condition, you may have to undergo a claim exam. This examination is conducted by a doctor the VA has contracted.
Once you receive your disability rating, you have the right to appeal. However, it is important that you recognize the VA’s procedure in reaching that rating.
The VA actually assigns a separate disability rating for each disability. If you have two or more disabilities, the VA will rely on its “Combined Ratings Table.” This table can be confusing and is not an average of your ratings. People with the highest ratings may receive 100 Disabled Veteran Benefits.
If you wish to appeal any stage of this process, do not delay. Seek a law firm that understands VA laws. Whether you need help applying or appealing, you can find the help you need. Don’t settle for lawyers who are inexperienced or unsuccessful.
Take the first step in receiving benefits. Consult the VA experts at Chermol & Fishman, LLC today.