Generally, the veteran must have been “discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.” 38 U.S.C. § 101(2); 38 C.F.R. § 3.1(d). The military’s discharge characterizations do not correspond to the VA’s definition, therefore if you see a strange discharge description on your DD-214 you should consult your Veterans Benefits Manual (VBM). Disability is defined as an impairment in earning capacity. Allen v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 439 (1995). The veteran must prove that they have a current disability, diagnosis, or current disabling residuals from a disease or injury. Service-connected means that the claimed disability was incurred or aggravated in line of duty in active military, naval, or air service. Ferenc v. Nicholson 20 Vet. App. 58, (2006). The veteran must show at least a 50% chance of incurrence, occurrence, or aggravation of a disease or injury during service. This may be established by medical or, in some circumstances, lay evidence. You must show a link between the claimed in-service disease or injury and the present disability. The VA compensates service-connected diagnosis whether the diagnosis arises as a direct result of your military service or is secondarily related to your military service. For example, if you lost your leg while serving in Iraq, this would be a direct service-connected loss. If you became depressed as a result of your amputated leg, this would be a secondary service-connected diagnosis.
The VA has a schedule of ratings of reductions in earning capacity attributable to specific injuries or conditions. The ratings are based on the “average impairments of earning capacity resulting from such injuries in civil occupations.” The schedule allows for 10 possible ratings ranging, by tens, from 0%-100%. If there is a question as to which rating the VA should assign to the disability, the veteran is entitled to the higher rating. See Caffrey v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 377, 383 (1994). Sometimes you will receive a rating of 0% service connection. Although you will not receive any compensation for a 0% rating, you have cleared the service-connection hurdle and can appeal for a higher rating.
If you have been denied benefits or you feel you have received an unjust disability rating, the most important thing to remember is… ALWAYS file an APPEAL! You NEVER want to start a new application because you will put yourself back at square one. The closer you are to hearing in front of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), the better. This means you will have the opportunity to present an argument on why your claim should be approved. We recommend having an experienced disability representative or advocate by your side from the start. An experienced representative or advocate will save you a lot of time and aggravation. If travelling or sitting for hours is difficult for you, The Disability Help Group can help. Contact our group of trained legal assistants – we will evaluate your claim for FREE! If we take your case, we will file your claim for you.
The after-effects of war on a person can show itself in a variety of ways, some of which are physical, and others of which are psychological. Below are listed some of the most common diagnoses for veterans. Helpful links have been included for your convenience.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that affects thousands of veterans. PTSD can cause the brain to sense stress and danger in even the most benign situations. Stress and fear take over at unexpected times, causing much mental anguish. Treatments for PTSD generally involve psychotherapy or medications. These two are often used in conjunctions with one another. Treatments are dependent on the severity of the symptoms. Therefore each PTSD sufferer may be treated in different ways. The list below goes over some treatment options for PTSD.
NIMH – PTSD info
Panic attacks stem from an anxiety disorder that causes recurring, yet unexpected attacks of extreme fear. These attacks can last minutes to hours. During a panic attack, the person will experience at least four of the following symptoms within 10 minutes. Severe panic attacks can be followed by at least a month of constant fear of having another attack.
Depression is a serious medical illness in which feelings of sadness, anger, loss, or frustration are long-lasting and get in the way of everyday life. Clinical depression is categorized by severity from mild to severe.
NIMH – Depression info
Amputation is the partial or entire removal of a body part covered by skin. Removal of the body part usually occurs during surgery in a hospital operating room. It is done to stop the spread of gangrene, diabetes, arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), or any other condition that weakens blood flow. Amputation is also performed to impede the spread of bone cancer and to minimize loss of blood and infection in a person who has endured severe, irreparable damage to a limb.
The Amputee Coalition
Many veterans have been exposes to seriously harmful chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, solvents, and other toxic materials. The notorious Agent Orange is just one of them. These toxins can lead to a number of various health issues, which could end up having life-long effects.
You may decide to make a veterans disability claim after your service time has come to an end and you find that are suffering a severe impairment from it. Your condition may be physical, psychological, or both. The process of getting a VA claim approved can be a long and confusing one. The further that your application goes in the process, the more complex the paperwork and rules become. Don’t get discouraged. As a veteran who worked so hard for our country, you deserve these benefits.
The first step to receiving veterans disability benefits is to submit your initial application to the regional office that handles VA claims for your area.
If the response you receive from them is unfavorable, you can file for an appeal. Your claim is taken to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) to be reconsidered. This can also be done if you feel that the rating you received was not appropriate.
If your veteran’s disability claim is denied by both your regional office and the BVA, you can then turn to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). This is a federal court, and the decision made here will be final. If you choose to take this step, it must be done within 120 days of the date that is on your denial from the BVA.
The Disability Help Group is glad to answer any further questions you have about veterans disability and the process of a VA claim. Contact us at any time to speak with a knowledgeable representative.
As a group that has handled veterans disability claims for several years, we know how complex they can be. In some cases, there are additional benefits for veterans that they may not have realized they were entitled to. Some are listed below.
Special Monthly Compensation is an extra amount of finances that may be provided to veterans under certain conditions in addition to their normal disability amount. Some examples of the cases where SMC might be provided are when a veteran has suffered from a lost limb or organ, blindness, deafness, or when a veteran requires at-home care. Speak with a rep from The Disability Group if you think you may be eligible for SMC and would like to discuss the issue to find out more information.
Total Disability Based Upon Individual Unemployability provides the full amount of compensation to a veteran as if their disability was rated at 100 percent, even if it was rated below that. A veteran might be eligible for TDIU if it can be proven that they are not capable of working at all.
They must have at least one service-connected disability that is rated at at least 60 percent. One way around this is to have multiple conditions that have a combined rating of at least 70 percent, but in that case, one of them must have a rating of a least 40 percent.
The Disability Help Group is available to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about veterans disability. If you would like to inquire about the additional benefits mentioned above, or anything else regarding VA claims, give us a call or email us through the web form provided on the right side of this page. We look forward to assisting you.