If you are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces with disabilities connected to, or aggravated by, active service, you may be eligible for veterans disability benefits. Veterans disability benefits consist of payments to the veteran from the United States government. To receive these benefits, you must apply through the Veterans Administration.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about veterans disability benefits designed to help you understand the process.
This guide is intended to help you get started on the process of filing a veterans disability benefits claim on your own. But if your initial claim is denied, or if your disability rating was significantly lower than you expected, you should contact a qualified veterans disability attorney to discuss your options. Call the Law Offices of Michael Monce to discuss your appeal. We will work with you towards a positive result and the benefits you deserve.
What Are Veterans Disability Benefits?
Veterans disability benefits, also called VA disability compensation, is a monetary payment to a disabled veteran. It applies to veterans who have a disability that was caused in whole or in part by their active military service.
You do not have to have been traumatically injured during your service to qualify. Some disabilities may come to light after your service, but have been caused by your time in the military. For example, a veteran might be exposed to chemicals or radiation during deployment that later causes cancer. In addition, other disabilities can be presumed from your service in the military.
If you are suffering from a debilitating medical condition or injury that was caused or exacerbated by your active duty service, you may want to file a disability claim. Read on for specific instructions on how to do so.
Who Is Eligible for VA Benefits?
If you are a veteran of the US armed forces who suffers from a disability, you may qualify for assistance.
There are three key elements that are necessary for meeting eligibility for disability benefits from the VA. All three must be true for you to qualify.
- You must have a presently existing disability or disabilities.
- Your disability must result in whole or in part from your active duty service, that is, it must be a service connected disability.
- There must be medical evidence of a nexus, or link, between your diagnosed disability and an in-service injury, disease, or event.
What Are Disability Ratings?
If the VA determines that a veteran qualifies for disability benefits, it will assign the disability a rating to signify the extent of the disability or disease. These ratings are assigned in 10% increments, ranging from 10% to 100% disabled.
A higher disability rating indicates that the veteran has a more serious disability and therefore receives a higher monthly benefit payment. The statutes also provide for higher payments for many more severe disabilities such as a loss of a hand or foot, blindness or severe injury to one eye.
What is Total Disability Based on Unemployability?
If your service connected disabilities are so severe that you are unable to perform the mental or physical duties for work, you may be able to receive Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability or TDIU.
An application for TDIU may increase your disability rating to 100%. To increase the rating to 100%, a veteran must have either one disability rated at 60%, or more or more than one disability with one rated 40% or more and a combined rating of at least 70%.
How Do I Know If My Disability Qualifies Me for Veterans Benefits?
To qualify for veterans disability benefits, your disability must be service-connected. This means that your active service caused or helped to cause the disability.
There are three main types of service connection: direct service connection, presumed service connection, and aggravated injury connection.
Direct Service Connection occurs when your disability stemmed directly from military service, such as an in-combat injury. An example might include a service member who suffered an in-combat loss of limb, hearing, or eyesight.
Aggravated Service Connection occurs when an individual entering into military service has a pre-existing condition noted in their medical entrance exam, and they can provide evidence that military service caused aggravation to that condition. An example might be an individual who showed a degree of hearing loss prior to enlistment, but who can show that the hearing loss accelerated significantly due to conditions of their active military service.
Presumed Service Connection occurs when a disability occurs and is presumed to be caused by military service. An example might include the contraction of a tropical disease as a result of deployment. Another example might be the diagnosis of certain cancers related to increased radiation exposure during service.
How Do I Apply for Veterans Disability Benefits?
To begin the process of applying to receive veterans disability benefits, you must file a form called the Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension (VA Form 21-526). It may be downloaded from the VA website www.va.gov/vaforms or completed online www.ebenefits.va.gov
Complete the form online, or submit the paper form at your VA regional office. You will need to provide your DD214 (separation paperwork) along with medical records which show evidence of the disability, and evidence that the disability was caused by your active service. Many veterans enlist the support of a veterans service organization or VSO such as the American Legion, VFW, or Disabled American Veterans to assist them.
You may also be asked to provide marriage, divorce, birth or adoption records to show dependents, and if you are living in a nursing home, you will be asked to provide records from that facility.
What Happens After I Apply for Veterans Disability Benefits?
Once you apply for disability benefits from the VA, you will have to wait for them to make a determination. A disability claims specialist at the VA will review your application, and may request additional information from you or your doctors if needed. The VA allows you to track the status of your disability claim online at https://www.va.gov/claim-or-appeal-status.
When the review of your application is complete, a packet will be mailed to your address with information on your claim. It will contain the decision made by the VA. If you were approved for disability it will contain information you need to about the benefit awarded. If your claim is denied, it will contain information about your denial.
If your claim is denied, or if you disagree with the level of disability you were assessed, you can request a decision review. This is the point of your VA claim where you should contact a veterans disability benefits lawyer.
While the initial process is relatively straightforward, there are multiple avenues for review or appeal. Having someone on your side to help you navigate this difficult process is invaluable
My Veterans Disability Claim Was Denied. What Do I Do Now?
If you disagree with the decision made by the VA on your claim, you have multiple avenues for requesting a review. You can provide supplemental evidence to bolster your claim, ask for a higher-level review, or request a Board Appeal.
Knowing the right path for your individual claim can be hard to assess on your own. Having an attorney who knows the law and understands the specific information that the Veterans Administration is looking for can be invaluable in getting the payment you deserve.
Our office will work with you to obtain medical evidence from treating physicians or an examining psychiatrist. Once we have obtained all the necessary information, we then assist you with appealing or resubmitting your information within the limited timeframe set by the VA.
How Much Will I Receive From the VA for my Disability Benefit?
The Board of Veterans Appeals will review your claim (or re-review in the case of appeal) and determine your qualification for disability benefits. If you qualify, you will be assigned a disability rating ranging from 0% to 100% (this will be expressed in ten-percent increments)
Your monthly payment will be associated with your percentage of disability. So someone who is determined to be 40% disabled will receive a smaller payment than someone who is determined to be 90% disabled.
Additional factors such as a dependent spouse or children could increase your payment, as would certain serious injuries, such as the loss of a limb. Ultimately, however, the payment you receive will be determined by preexisting formulas by the VA and may range from around a hundred dollars a month, to several thousand.
Do I Need an Attorney to Submit My Veterans Disability Claim?
For your initial claim for veterans disability benefits, it is suggested that you contact a veterans services organization or VSO such as the American Legion, VFW, or Disabled American Veterans.
If your initial claim for disability benefits is denied, or if you receive a disability rating lower than you feel is appropriate, you have the opportunity to appeal the VA’s decision. You must appeal within one year of the decision, however, so do not delay.
This is the best time to get a qualified veterans disability attorney to help you with your appeal. Having a qualified lawyer can be invaluable in making sure that your appeal is successful and that you ultimately receive the benefits that you deserve.
Our law office will help move your case through the twists and turns of the review process, counseling you on the appropriate review methods, and helping you to obtain the necessary medical information to support your claim.
If you wish to appeal your veterans disability claim, don’t wait. Call the law office of Michael Monce at (855) 344-8090 to get the representation that you need to get the benefits you deserve.