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What is VA Disability?
Veterans who developed an illness or injury while serving in the military, or whose military service worsened an existing condition could be entitled to VA disability compensation. This compensation is a monthly tax-free payment made to qualified veterans with either a physical illness or injury or a mental health condition that developed during or after their service or worsened a pre-existing condition. Using a scale from 10 percent to 100 percent, in 10 percent increments, the amount of the benefits is graduated, according to the degree of the disability, Disabilities that may be related to or are caused by the veteran’s primary disability are presumed to be related to the veteran’s military service, even when they arise after the term of service.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC is a monetary benefit that is paid to the surviving spouse of a service member, or his or her children. The service member must have died while on active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training, or from a service-connected disability. If a parent was financially dependent on a veteran who died from a service-related cause, that parent could be entitled to Parents’ DIC.
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) is an additional benefit that may be paid to veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses, or parents. Special Monthly Compensation is paid when there are special circumstances such as the service member’s loss of a limb. When used in relation to spouses or surviving spouses, the benefit is known as aid and attendance based on the degree of aid and attendance needed by another person. There are other VA disability benefits that may be available once the disability is deemed service-connected. These programs can include an auto allowance, clothing allowance, hospitalization, convalescence, dental, benefits for birth defects, or individual unemployability.
Why Should You Choose a VA Disability Lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group?
If you are struggling to obtain VA Disability benefits, you could benefit from speaking to an experienced VA disability lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group. As nationwide VA disability lawyers, we help veterans across the United States. Veterans seeking veteran disability benefits are much more likely to receive these benefits when they have a skilled and knowledgeable attorney looking out for their future and their rights.
An attorney from the Carmichael Law Group can first help you determine whether you meet all the requirements for veteran disability benefits, then can help you gather all the medical information you need. At the Carmichael Law Group, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation where we can answer any questions that you may have about the process. Our firm has more than 300 positive Google reviews, largely because we always go the extra mile for our clients—and we truly care. We are a nationwide VA disability law firm, ready to help you through the process in a way that gives you the best chance of a successful outcome.
VA Disability Denials
According to the Veteran’s Help Group, many of the thousands of veterans who apply for VA disability compensation each year are denied. While this initial denial can feel disheartening, you shouldn’t give up as you seek the benefits you are entitled to receive. The Department of Veterans Affairs struggles to keep up with the disability benefit demand. With a backlogged system and an insufficient number of employees, the average wait time for an initial decision on a disability claim can range from four months to more than a year. Advocates for veterans in the U.S. say far too many legitimate disability claims are being denied by the VA, leaving deserving veterans unable to work and make a living, and with no assistance in return for their military service.
The process involved in filing for veteran disability benefits is complex and time-consuming. Having an experienced disability advocate in the form of a knowledgeable VA disability lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group can make a significant difference. We can review your initial application in depth, and file an appeal on your behalf if your original application is denied. If your claim is rejected after the first review, you can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. This board is composed of four individuals who review each case to determine whether they agree with the original decision. The board can send your case back and request additional information, reverse the original denial, or agree with the original denial. This decision is usually considered final, so it is imperative that you bring all relevant facts to the table before these decisions are made.
The VA requires significant evidence to approve your claim. This evidence includes medical records, as well as other supporting documents. If you were discharged from the military many years ago, or you are still in active-duty status, it may be difficult to gather all these documents together. Having a good support system is crucial for your mental and physical health. With as difficult as the process of seeking VA disability can be, you will need encouragement and assistance along the way. If you are a veteran who has had your disability claim denied, you are not alone. Initial claim denials are extremely common, and you have the right to appeal this decision with the goal of having the initial denial reversed. The steps you take following a VA disability benefits denial are a critical part of the process.
There will be plenty of paperwork and mountains of red tape. The most common reasons for a denial of VA disability include:
- An incomplete form, wrong information, or missing information—Failing to include completely accurate information could be the number one cause of initial VA disability claim denials. You will be asked to provide information regarding your medical history, your military service, contact information, family details, and evidence of your disability. An experienced VA disability lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group will ensure that you have a fully developed claim with all the necessary supporting documents and VA claim forms.
- Your condition is not considered a disability under VA rules and regulations—Your disability must be medically diagnosable and provable. You could have chronic back pain as a result of your military service or could have clear evidence that you were exposed to Agent Orange, for example. These facts, in and of themselves will not result in an approval for VA disability benefits. You must have a diagnosable disability directly related to chemical exposure, an accident with injury, or another type of illness. While psychiatric ailments like PTSD can potentially warrant VA disability benefits, it can be an uphill battle.
- The VA does not believe your disability is related to your service—This can be especially disheartening to veterans who served their country honorably, only to be told that a disability arising from their time in the military is not service-related. The VA only provides disability benefits to veterans with aggravated injuries or disabilities incurred during deployment, so it will be up to you to provide a clear correlation between your service and your symptoms. If you have a physician’s diagnostic report that details how your disability is related to your prior military service, it can go a long way in convincing the VA that you are entitled to disability benefits.
- You missed a critical deadline— Perhaps you failed to follow up with necessary paperwork in a timely manner or neglected to schedule a doctor’s visit as instructed by the VA. These are reasons why the VA could possibly deny your disability claim.
- Your medical evidence has been rejected by the VA—Your medical evidence may not strictly adhere to VA criteria, triggering a denial. Your medical statement must clearly explain your disability, its cause and resulting symptoms, and the reason that it should be considered a disability by the VA. You should allow your primary physician to review your file and compose a medical statement that fully supports your VA disability claim. There must be no missing sections in your medical statement, and the physician’s statement must clearly correlate to your military service. Your VA disability lawyer will know the VA-appropriate language that should be used in this statement, so having legal help is essential.
- You submitted the wrong forms—This is yet another good reason for having an experienced VA disability lawyer help you during your initial application process. It is imperative that the correct forms are submitted.
- The VA is claiming that your disability is due to a pre-existing condition— Pre-existing claims are only approved if you can clearly show that your pre-existing condition worsened significantly as a result of your military service.
Filing a VA claim is a time-consuming, tedious process with lots of frustrations. Don’t let a denial discourage you from pursuing your VA disability claim—contact a knowledgeable VA disability lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group, LLC.
VA Disability Appeals
While a VA disability denial can feel defeating, it’s important that you do not give up. Following an initial denial, you can file a Notice of Disagreement, informing the VA that you do not agree with the denial and that you intend to appeal. You have one year from the date you received your initial denial to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. When you file this Notice, limit the amount of information you provide. By providing general information in this Notice, you can avoid having to file a new claim.
Rather than filing this Notice of Disagreement with the VA, you can instead request a Higher-Level Review. If you file a Higher-Level Review, you will have a senior rating specialist who will review your appeal. An HLR is only meant to overturn a denial when you do not want to submit new evidence. If the HLR uncovers a “duty to assist” error, you and the VA will be provided with a set of instructions to correct the error. You will be able to submit any additional evidence at this time
If you feel like you need to submit additional evidence but are not inclined to present your case at the BVA to a Veterans Law Judge, you may choose to file a supplemental claim. You are required to file this Supplemental Claim within one year of the date that your VA application for disability benefits is denied. The entire process can take a significant amount of time, so you should be prepared to wait. Make sure you keep copies of everything. Once the review of your VA disability case is complete, the original denial could be upheld, or the denial could be reversed. Your very best chance of winning an appeal is to contact an experienced VA disability lawyer immediately upon receiving the initial denial.
Can I Appeal if My Veteran’s Disability Claim Was Denied?
If your Notice of Disagreement, Higher Level Review, or Supplemental Claim are not successful in getting your denial reversed, you can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and have a Veterans Law Judge review your case. Your attorney can check your VA appeal status on a regular basis, keeping you informed of any progress.
How Can an Attorney Help with the VA Disability Process?
There are many good reasons to speak to a VA disability lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group who can help you with the process. You can expect extremely personalized, highly committed service from our nationwide attorneys. We will work hard to come up with the best plan for your unique circumstances, understanding that each veteran we work with has a different situation. The laws that affect VA disability benefits change frequently. Your VA disability lawyer will be up-to-date on any such changes, saving you from making a costly, time-consuming mistake.
Your attorney can help the claims process go much faster and more smoothly by helping you receive approval for your disability benefits with the initial application. If your initial claim is denied, we can handle your appeal by helping you get an independent medical examination performed by a doctor with no connection to the VA. Ultimately, an attorney from the Carmichael Law Group can help you navigate this tedious and time-consuming process, ensuring that your rights are fully protected every step of the way.
How a Nationwide VA Disability Lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group Can Help
Having a nationwide VA disability lawyer from the Carmichael Law Group can truly make the difference between an approval and a denial. We care about our clients, and will always advocate for you, your future, and your family with passion and knowledge. Don’t wait—contact the Carmichael Law Group today.