After veterans have sacrificed so much for their country, they should be able to rely on support from the government to provide for them in the event of an injury or disability. Unfortunately, many veterans find that dealing with the government agencies is difficult and frustrating. They may be denied for no clear reason and unsure what to do next to get assistance for their military service disability.
What is Veterans Disability?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees veterans disabilities. Veterans with a disability that is the result of a disease or injury which was incurred or aggravated during military service may be eligible for disability compensation. Individuals may also be eligible for compensation even if their disability did not arise until after active service, so long as the disability is related to military service. Veterans may also be eligible for additional benefits, including housing and insurance benefits.
The benefit amount may depend on the relative degree of disability. Compensation is available to a veteran who is at least 10% disabled because of their related injury or disease. The injury is classified from 10% to 100%, at 10% increments. Veterans may also receive additional benefits if they have a spouse, children, or dependent parents.
Some veterans, their spouses, and parents of veterans can receive Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). This applies to injuries where the veteran may need an attendant, aid, or assistance by another person for their injury. Veterans who have lost the use of an arm or a leg may qualify for SMC.
Additional benefits may include adapted housing grants, service-disabled veterans' insurance, veterans' mortgage life insurance.
A qualifying injury includes those which were incurred during active duty, training for active duty, or inactive duty training. This includes physical injuries, such as knee or back problems, as well as mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The veteran also has to be discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Certain individuals are presumed to have a qualifying disability. This includes:
- Former prisoners of war
- Veterans with certain chronic or tropical diseases that become evident after a specified period of time
- Veterans were exposed to ionizing radiation, mustard gas, or Lewisite while in service
- Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to certain herbicides
- Veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War
Disability Application Process
The Veterans Online Application (VONAPP) is the VA's online application website. To apply, an applicant can submit a “Fully Deployed Claim”, including submission of all supporting documentation, medical evidence, DD214 or separation documents, and dependency records. Paper applications may also be submitted.
Some individuals find the application process confusing or are unsure what evidence and medical records they need to submit. Applications can also be made through an accredited representative, agent, or through the local VA office. In some cases, an individual can apply for benefits before they are discharged from service.
Veteran Disability Compensation Appeals
When dealing with any governmental bureaucracy, an applicant may be denied without any clear understanding of why they were denied. Applications can be denied for a legitimate reason, or because of a mistake, typo, administrative error, lost paperwork, or poorly trained staff,
A veteran has a chance to appeal the VA's decision to deny their application. You may want to speak to an experienced attorney about your case to clear up any misunderstandings, obtain the necessary supplemental paperwork, or get another doctor's evaluation. Your attorney can advise you on the appeals process, and if necessary, continue to appeal the decision in order to fight for your rights.
Even if your application was denied, you may want to appeal the decision because the VA underestimated the impact of the disability. An injury that leaves a veteran more than 60% disabled may only be approved at 20% disability rate. Through the appeals process, you have the opportunity to show the extent of the disability, the impact on your ability to work or complete daily tasks and fight for the full compensation you deserve. Veterans have 1-year from the date of the letter notifying them of the decision on their claim to file a Notice of Disagreement.
Washington D.C. Veterans Disability Attorney
If you were denied a disability claim by the Department of Veterans Affairs, you have a right to fight for the compensation you deserve. A veterans disability lawyer can fight for you to get your claim approved. If you are injured or disabled related to military service, the VA is supposed to protect you by providing you compensation and benefits. Your veterans disability attorney will help advise you of your options and guide you through the claims process. Call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation so you can get the compensation you deserve.