To address the increasing US military veteran population—currently about 19 million—there is an expansion of health, education, home loan, and other veteran benefits. VA disability payments are one of the most common entitlements veterans overlook yet are often one of the most essential to their wellbeing. There are several reasons veterans miss out on VA disability benefits, such as:
- Confusion about the types of benefit programs
- Eligibility requirements
- Complexity of the application process
- Previous Claim Denial
Understanding the Eligibility Requirements
One misconception is that combat operations involvement is a requirement to be eligible. VA disability benefits are not limited to combat vets or orthopedic conditions, like missing limbs and damaged muscles. Any veteran whose service received an honorable discharge from active duty military service may qualify for VA compensation or disability benefits. Eligibility also includes those in the National Guard or Reserve mobilized or activated for service.
Suppose you currently face a condition or an illness which affects your mind or body with links to your military service. In that case, you may have criteria qualifying you to receive a VA Disability Rating. Even common conditions like back or knee pain, GERD, PTSD, and more may relate to your military service. Your service may cause problems that develop years later, like exposure to environmental toxins or Agent Orange. Even in the absence of active duty medical records, these medical conditions can be service-connected by your physician and attorney. Whether your disability was directly caused or only aggravated by your service, it is worth discovering if you merit service-connected disability benefits.
An Attorney Handles All the Paperwork
Undergoing a claims process for VA disability benefits can be lengthy and intimidating. Sadly, many Veterans give up once they see the daunting application. There are free government services to guide you through the proper paperwork, but meeting with them can be difficult due to caseloads. A negative first experience that may cause significant delays and turn a veteran away from the process and much-needed benefits. A Veteran’s Attorney fills out the application correctly, attaches any other necessary documents, submits ahead of deadlines, and usually achieves success.
Disability Claim Denial
It is disheartening to receive an application denial; however, they are often a result of filing incorrect forms or missing important application deadlines. It isn’t easy to know which document is appropriate if you have been previously denied benefits. A general appeal form to amend an initial denial contains various options which can further complicate your appeal. Your Veterans’ Attorney will understand the highly sensitive nature of disability claims like timing Intent to File, Presumptive Period, and other appeal or supplemental claims. Failure to meet claim deadlines results in continued denial of benefits.
Compensation and Pension Examinations (C&P)
After overcoming complex claims paperwork and submitting all requirements, there is another hurdle. The VA often schedules a C&P Examination. The VA requests a compulsory medical exam assessing the severity of the veteran’s condition. The VA can deny a veteran’s application if they do not attend the evaluations. Results of the C&P Examination become part of your file, and attendance is crucial for claim approval.
Confusing Disability with Other VA Benefits
VA disability benefits do not prohibit employment. Veterans may confuse disability benefits with a VA program called “Total Disability Individual Unemployability.” Eligibility rules for this unemployability program require a veteran is unable to keep or obtain a job. Veterans with a VA rating for a disability can receive benefits and still maintain employment without limitation.
Often a veteran will confuse Social Security Disability benefits with VA service-connected disability benefits. These are two completely separate programs, and you can be eligible for both. Qualifications for social security disability benefits will not automatically qualify a veteran for VA disability benefits and visa versa.
Mental health claims and treatment can create confusing issues for veterans regarding their legal rights. A VA mental health rating and mental incompetence are not the same things. A VA rating for mental health will not put a veteran at risk of losing constitutionally protected rights. There are instances where an individual can be mentally incompetent without the presence of depression, anxiety related to chronic pain, or PTSD. Mental health benefit claims are as important and valid as physical claims. Before discounting these powerful claims, a Veterans’ Attorney can help you understand your situation and protect benefits that may be due to you.
Filing VA claims can be stressful, particularly when you have a limited understanding of the forms, procedures, deadlines, and other confusing legal issues that can lead to benefits claim denials. Veterans of the US military seeking VA disability benefits have a much better chance with the legal guidance of an attorney and a practical approach to processing applications that maximizes qualification and approval.