Whether your service with the armed forces is ending and you’re applying for VA disability benefits for the first time, or you’re a veteran experiencing a new or worsening condition, you likely have a lot on your mind during this process. That’s why it’s important to know the easiest way to apply for VA disability, so you and your family can get the benefits you need and move on in your post-service life.
If you’re in the process of applying for VA benefits, keep in mind that you’re not alone. Millions of veterans across the United States have gone or will go through the same experience.
Not only that, nearly half of veterans with a service-connected disability have a disability rating of 60 percent or higher.
But before you get started, it’s critical to know if you qualify, as well as when and how to apply for your benefits, and what evidence you’ll need to prove your disability. Georgia VA disability lawyers can help ease your path from discharge to receiving the benefits you deserve.
While there’s no magic formula to winning your benefits, the easiest way to apply for VA disability is to be informed and prepared for each step of the process.
Table of Contents :
- Step 1: Are you Eligible?
- Step 2: How to Apply
- Step 3: How Georgia VA Disability Lawyers Can Help
Step 1: Are You Eligible?
When applying for VA disability, it’s critical to understand the conditions under which you qualify for benefits. This way you can ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of receiving the highest disability rating and level of benefits you deserve.
Roughly 31% of veterans are denied VA disability benefits, and many more will receive a disability rating lower than the severity of their conditions.
To be eligible for benefits, you must:
- have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, and
- have a disability rating for your service-connected condition.
In addition, at least one of the following must be true:
- You got sick or injured while serving in the military, and can link this condition to your illness or injury.
- You had an illness or injury before you joined the military, and serving made it worse.
- You have a disability-related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service.
Unlike other disability benefits programs such as Social Security disability, VA disability doesn’t require that you be unable to work or meet strict disability definitions. You must only prove that you are disabled and that your disability is service-connected, according to the guidelines above.
However, veterans sometimes also qualify for Social Security disability benefits when they are rated 100% permanent and total (P&T) disabled.
Discuss what additional benefits you may qualify for with your attorney.
Step 2: How to Apply
Armed service members can typically first apply for benefits between 180 and 90 days before discharge through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program. Claims filed later than this will not be processed until after discharge.
Some of the main ways to begin the application process include:
- Online, you can apply for veterans' disability benefits using the Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP).
- By mail, you can complete an Application for Veterans Compensation and/or Pension, found at the VA Forms Website.
- By phone, call 800-827-1000. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the TDD line at 800-829-4833. If you live outside the U.S., call 412-395-6272.
- Visit your local VA regional office, and apply in person.
Some types of evidence that you can provide to prove your claim include:
- A Nexus letter from a doctor connecting your disability to your service
- VA medical records and hospital records that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries
- Private medical records and hospital reports that relate to your claimed illnesses or injuries
- Supporting statements you’d like to provide from family members, friends, clergy members, law enforcement personnel, or those you served with that can tell us more about your claimed condition and how and when it happened or how it got worse
- Form DD214 or other separation documents
- A Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) detailing your condition and its severity
- A C&P exam by a VA physician, to help determine your disability rating (between 0% and 100%)
- Other paperwork or steps specific to the unique circumstances of your disability
The VA offers a full explanation for additional steps or paperwork you may need for your specific claim, as well as resources the VA offers to help.
Step 3: How Georgia VA Disability Lawyers Can Help
More than half of those who are initially denied VA disability is denied due to an error. An initial decision on its own can take 94.3 days on average, and denial or unfair rating means you’ll need to go through additional appeals or challenge the rating you were given.
The right Georgia VA disability lawyers can help you navigate the process.
VA-accredited lawyers only handle appeals in VA disability. The law forbids attorneys from charging fees to assist Veterans in filing their initial claims for disability benefits. If you’ve suffered a service-connected disability, and have been denied your initial claim, a VA disability lawyer can help maximize your chance of winning an appeal.
The right VA disability lawyers have the experience to help you win your appeal. Affleck & Gordon specialize in helping Georgia veterans like you receive their disability benefits and are passionate about helping clients win their disability claims.
Schedule a free case evaluation with Affleck & Gordon to discuss your claim and learn how we can help.
If your VA Disability claim was 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 at (404) 990-3945.