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Quick guide to VA Disability Benefits

This guide will addess common questions veterans have about collecting veteran's benefits and outline the journey a claim could take along with how long each stage normally takes. Go straight to 10 step overview of VA claims process.

Common Questions


1. How does the new 2019 VA appeals process work?

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act is the new system under which all appeals of unfavorable VA decisions will be processed. The new system lets a veteran choose from 1 of 3 appeal lanes. The appeal lanes are higher level review, supplemental claim lane, and direct appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. To find out more about what option might be best for you contact us today!


2. What is presumption of service connection? 

The presumption of service connection is a legal standard that allows a veteran who served in a particular theater during an applicable time period to automatically be granted service connection if they have one of the specific presumed conditions. Today there quite a few locations that the presumption applies to such as Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and even veterans exposed to radiation have a presumption of service connection. To find out if you qualify for presumptive service connection based on your disabilities and where you served contact us today! 


3. Is PTSD a disability? 

PTSD is a very serious and often an all too common condition that affects many veterans. PTSD can be caused by exposure to any type of traumatic event that occurs in service even if the event does not involve hostile military or terrorist actions. PTSD can even occur as a result of military sexual trauma. If you think you have PTSD that was caused by your service than you deserve to be compensated for it. If you think you might be suffering from PTSD donít go it alone, seek help for your condition today go to a local VA hospital or call a doctor for help. Many are willing to help if you just give them the chance.   


4. What is the DAV?

The Disabled American Veterans are an organization that helps veterans in many different aspects, they are a great resource for a veteran who is disabled and needs help. They can help with a VA disability claim if you need them and their services are free. Although the DAV is a great resource, an experienced professional VA attorney should always be preferred for those cases that are complex and require extensive legal work. 


5. What are VA Education Benefits

VA Education Benefits are designed to help veterans obtain an education, there are a number of VA educational benefits available for veterans. You can find out more about what benefits might be right for you on this VA page.  


6. What are Veteran's Death Benefits (DIC)?

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a benefit available to veterans survivors in the form of monthly compensation checks. The most common recipient of DIC is the veteran's spouse, but the benefit can also be obtained by the veteranís surviving children or parents. The children must be under 18 (or found disabled before turning 18) in order to qualify for DIC benefits. DIC benefits are rewarded if it is determined that the veterans death was the result of service-connected disabilities.     


7. What is Aid and Attendance/Special Monthly Compensation?

Aid and Attendance and other forms of special monthly compensation are benefits that provide additional compensation for veterans whose conditions cause a situation in which the need for regular aid and attendance is required. Other types of special monthly compensation include housebound status and special adapted housing just to name a few. To learn more about what kinds of special monthly compensation you might qualify for contact us today! 


8. What are Veteran Spouse Benefits?

 Veterans spouse benefits include veteranís death benefits such as DIC. A veteranís spouse might also be entitled to other types of benefits such as employment opportunities or education and training. There are quite a few different types of benefits available to the the spouses of a veteran. To find out more about them check out this link.


9. What are VA Forms?

 There are a lot of different VA forms that one would use to effectively communicate with the VA. Basically, any time you want the VA to acknowledge something you should locate the appropriate VA form, fill it out and submit it. Even just writing a statement to the VA requires the use of a form. To figure out what form you need to communicate with the VA contact us today!


10. What medical records should I submit to support my claim?

 Basically in order to establish service connection for a claimed disability the medical records you submit should include proof of a diagnosis, evidence of an event or injury in service, and proof of a causal connection between the current condition and the events or injury that occurred in service. If you are applying for an increase in disability compensation then you would need a doctor to complete a disability benefits questionnaire (DBQ), a DBQ can also help to provide a diagnosis and a nexus opinion if complete correctly. For a list of DBQs by body system affected please use this link.

The entire VA benefits process in 10 steps 

This is the journey that your VA disability claim could take and how long each step in the VA disability claims process takes


1.At step 1 in the process you will have to fill out a VA Form 21-526EZ Application for VA disability Benefits. You will have to identify all of the disabilities that you wish to claim on the form and you should provide as much detail as possible on how you feel the disability is related to service. You can apply online by registering for VA ebenefits, or send the application to the VA evidence intake center.

2.Next you might need to fill out additional forms depending on what disabilities you are claiming and whether or not you identify treatment source for your disbilities. The Application for Disability Compensation (21-526EZ) lists what forms you will have to fill out based on what condition you are claiming


3. After completing any necessary forms you will have to wait to get a decision from the VA. During the period in which you are waiting for a decision a few things can happen. First, the VA can send you additional developement letters asking you to complete a certian form or submit additional evidence. The VA can also send you for a Compensation & Pension evaluation (C&P). This is an appointment with a VA medical professional. The purpose of the C&P exam could be to determine the current severity of your disability or to provide an opinion on whether or not your condition is related to service. 


4. Typically it can take up to six months to get a decision after you complete and submit the VA Form 21-526EZ. If you get denied or your not happy with the rating your given you will have the option to appeal your decision. You have 1 year from the date of the decision to file an appeal. Typically this is the step in the process where the veteran will seek the advice of an attorney. 


5. You now have 3 options to appeal your VA disability decision. The first option is to request a Higher Level Review on VA Form 20-0996, the second is to request a supplemental review by filling out a VA Form 20-0995, the last option is to file a VA Form 10182 Appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. An attorney can help you choose which option is best for you.

6. If you file a Higher level Review you are telling the VA that they made an clear error in there decision regarding your VA disability benefits. The Higher level Review officer will look at all evidence considered at the time of the previous decision and make a new decision. You are not allowed to submit new evidence if you choose the Higher level Review. A Higher level Review on average takes 125 days. 

7. If you file for a supplemental appeal you are supposed to submit new evidence to support your claim. This new evidence should be related to the missing element in your claim and support your entitlement to either a higher rating or service connection. The supplemental review officer will consider the new evidence submitted along with all of the previously submitted evidence and make a new decision on your case. A supplemental appeal on average takes 125 days. 

8. If you choose to appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) you can choose from one of three options. The first option is to do a direct review without any additional evidence submission. This route is similar to the Higher level Review with the only different being that a Veterans Law Judge will be making the decision. The next option is to request 90 days to submit new evidence and then have the Board of Veterans Appeals make a detemination on your claim. The last option is to request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge. After the hearing you will have 90 days to submit additional evidence before a decision is made on the claim. For the first two options the VA is estimating that it will take about one year to get a decision. The last option, requesting a hearing, does not have an estimate on how long it can take for you to get your decision.  

Post-appeal decision 

9. After you get a BVA decision one of three things can happen. You can be denied, you can be granted or you can be remanded. If your claim is remanded it means that the BVA is instructing the regional office to conduct additional development on your claim. 

10. After you get a decision from either of the three appeal lanes you can always continue the appeal if its still unfavorable by selecting another one of the appeal lanes. You cannot select the same appeal lane you already choose and got denied in you must choose a new lane. 

If you have any questions regarding any step in the disability process you can always call our office and get a free consultation.     







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