When seeking VA Disability, the outcome isn’t always a sure thing. The process requires your time and effort, which is valuable, so it’s crucial to give yourself the best chance to win benefits for you and your family.
There are many reasons Veterans may be denied benefits, including:
- Insufficient medical evidence is provided.
- Your condition can’t be ruled service-connected.
- Issues with deadlines or paperwork
- Your condition is deemed pre-existing.
Even if you are deemed disabled by the VA, you may not receive a sufficient disability rating. Disability ratings range from 0% to 100% disabled, based on your combined service-connected conditions.
Although there are legitimate reasons you may not receive the benefits you feel you deserve, it’s possible the VA has made an error in their decision and you must appeal for a higher rating.
When it comes to ensuring you receive the highest possible level of benefits for your disability, whether to hire VA Disability lawyers can be one of the most important decisions you make.
To help you determine if legal representation is right for you, here are 5 benefits of consulting VA Disability attorneys.
5. You Don’t Have a Presumptive Disability
Presumptive disabilities are those the VA automatically presumes qualify you for benefits.
Some presumptive disabilities include those caused by:
- Being a former prisoner of war
- Exposure to Agent Orange during service in Vietnam
- Exposure to atomic ionizing radiation
- Gulf War service
If you meet the criteria for a presumptive disability, chances are that the VA will approve you for benefits without the need for additional medical proof of a service connection.
However, if you don’t meet these criteria, you may have to prove this connection yourself through evidence provided via your service and medical records, a Nexus letter written by your doctor detailing your service-connected condition, exams by VA doctors, and more.
The right attorney can help you gather and present evidence of your disability in a way that maximizes your chances of a positive outcome in your case. They can also help you avoid common mistakes that could lead to you being disqualified, such as missing deadlines, or incomplete or incorrectly filled out paperwork.
4. You’re Appealing a Denial or Low Disability Rating
Some Veterans don’t initially receive the benefits they feel they deserve, and may need to appeal a decision that doesn’t go in their favor.
For instance, you may be denied or receive a lower disability rating than seems appropriate for your level of impairment.
If this is the case, you will need to appeal your decision. Your appeal options include:
- Filing a supplemental claim with new and relevant evidence
- Requesting a higher-level review from a more senior reviewer
- Appealing to a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
An attorney will advocate for you during the appeals process and help you understand how to best present evidence for your appeal.
3. Your Claim Is Complicated
There are times you may be filing for multiple disabilities at once. Or else you may be suffering from disabilities which have worsened over time and you’re filing for increased compensation.
There may be complicating factors such as special needs related to your disability. Some of these needs include:
- Money for special driving equipment to be installed in your vehicle
- Replacement clothing damaged by prosthetics, skin conditions, etc.
- Recovery from surgery or convalescence
- Inability to work
- Dental care
- Time spent in the hospital for your disability
There may be other unique factors for the VA to consider, such as that you suffer PTSD or you’re terminally ill, pregnant, or have lost a limb.
An attorney can guide you through these complicating factors and ensure you follow all the steps the VA requires for your claims.
2. You’re Filing a Secondary Disability Claim
Secondary disabilities are those caused or worsened by service-connected disabilities for which you’ve already qualified.
Secondary connections must be proved to be caused, aggravated, or worsened by a primary service disability using the same types of medical evidence and service records used for other claims. You’d also need a Nexus letter from a doctor detailing the connection between your primary and secondary conditions.
Proving a secondary connection can be as challenging as proving a primary condition. However, if approved, it can help increase your disability rating and thus earn you and your family additional benefits.
For instance, if a primary disability earns you a 30% disability rating, a severe enough secondary condition can increase your rating to 100%.
Much like primary disabilities, your secondary conditions may worsen over time, and with supplementary evidence you may be able to increase your rating as well.
An attorney can help you medically prove the severity of your secondary condition and receive the highest possible disability rating, depending on your unique circumstances.
1. You Need Your Claim to be Expedited
There are specific instances when a Veteran may need a case to be expedited. An attorney can advise you on when your case may be expedited, and how to proceed.
Some instances when a case may be expedited include if:
- You’re having financial hardship, such as if you can’t afford basic necessities or are going to be evicted.
- You’re 75 years old, or older.
- You’re suffering homelessness.
- You’re terminally ill.
Additionally, if you’ve received a 100% disability rating from the VA and are seeking Social Security disability benefits, you may be able to expedite your Social Security claim.
An attorney can help you navigate the steps of both VA and Social Security disability claims, if you are seeking benefits from both programs. And while there is no silver bullet that will make your claims resolve quickly, your attorneys will explore every avenue to minimize the time you spend waiting for a decision.
If your VA Disability claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for decades. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.