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Waiting for Rating Decision

VA Application to Rating Decision Use Time Wisely

You have taken the first step and applied for VA compensation and now you may be wondering what can you do besides just wait for a decision from the VA regional office. Whether you filed your claim on your own or you used VSO or veteran service organization to help you there is a lot that can be done by you to not only improve your claims chances of winning, but also to get ready for the possibility that you may lose or not get a percentage that you are satisfied with. I will start with a section explaining what you can do to improve your chances of winning at application. The section after that will deal with things you can do to prepare for a denial or insufficient percentage.  If you have any questions while waiting for your VA Rating Decision call me at 1-877-527-5529. 

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Win at Application: Things You Can Do

If you are seeing any doctors outside the VA health system it would be a good idea to make sure you get any medical evidence from these sources that could be helpful to your claim. If you provided the VA with the information on where you are receiving treatment and received treatment in the past you cannot assume the VA has sent for and received all your medical evidence. Usually, most of the treatment you got at VA facilities will make it to your file, but there is also a chance some of these records will not make it into your file. I have found the bigger problem to be when you give your outside treating sources information to the VA. Many times this medical information does not make it into your file, which is why I suggest you take it upon yourself to make sure your treating sources records outside the VA make it into your file before a decision is reached. One particular type of evidence you cannot count on the VA to get for you is "nexus letters" from your doctors. Nexus letters are letters from your doctor that explain that your present medical condition is in some way connected to your time in service or another medical condition that has already been found to be service-connected. To better understand what a nexus letter is and what it should include you should visit my page that describes service connection and nexus letters. Something else you can do while waiting for a decision is to get "buddy letters" (letters from people you served with) or letters from friends and family who can describe how your medical condition affects you in day to day activities, or explain any changes they have noted from the time period before service compared to your physical or mental condition when you left service. What these letters say or who you get them from depends on your particular case, and what you have to prove to not only win your case, but also to get as high a percentage as you are entitled to. This leads me to another thing you should be doing during this time, and that is becoming knowledgeable about your claim and what you will have to show to be found service-connected for your medical conditions, and how the rating system works for your particular medical condition. This is also a good time to start looking for a VA disability lawyer if you plan on getting one should your rating decision not turn out as you hoped it would. You might be wondering why you would want to do this now. There are a couple of reasons why you should start looking for a VA compensation lawyer now. First, you can ask the potential lawyer questions about your case and in doing this you will learn a couple of things. If the lawyer is unwilling to answer any of your questions, and simply tells you to call them back when you are denied, then you learned that this might not be the right lawyer for you if they can even take the time to answer a few questions. If the lawyer is willing to answer your questions, you not only found a lawyer you may want to consider hiring later on, since he took the time to answer your questions, but also the information you learned could possibly be used to help improve your chances of winning at application. The second reason you may want to look for a lawyer now, is so you don't have to waste any time after receiving your decision to find a lawyer to evaluate that decision and help you decide whether or not you want to appeal that decision and to start taking the next steps necessary for your particular claim. 

Prepare for Denial of Rating Decision

I will now talk about things you can do to prepare for the possibility that you're not found service-connected or that you don't get the rating you think you should have. I already talked about looking for a lawyer so although that discussion also belongs in this section it does not make sense for me to discuss it again. The one thing you may want to know that was not discussed earlier is how a lawyer gets paid. Most VA disability lawyers get paid 20% of past due benefits. In other words, they only get paid if they win and it is 20% of the money owed to you and nothing from future payments. Some lawyers may charge a higher percentage so this may be one question you may want to ask when looking for a lawyer. Another thing you should be doing is requesting a copy of your C file and service medical records. This is the file the VA uses to determine service connection and the percentage you may be entitled to. If you put the request in early then hopefully you will have your claim file with the service medical records in it before you get a rating decision or soon thereafter. Without this file, you have no way of knowing what evidence the VA used to come up with their decision. This file will also contain the results of any exams the VA sent you to. With all this information when you do receive your rating decision you will be prepared to give a copy of this file to your lawyer if you plan on hiring one. This will save you and the lawyer months of waiting to get a copy of your file after the decision. You or your lawyer can now look at what the VA is looking at and determine what is needed to improve your claim. You also might be shocked to find how much information was not in your file that you can now try and get. Another thing you can do while waiting for your rating decision is to start looking for people you served with that may be able to help your claim. In many cases, letters from people you served with can be very helpful and can verify your medical condition, an incident in service, or any number of things that could help your claim so finding these people is something worth doing during this waiting period. 

In my many years of practice, I have found that those who are most involved in their claim give themselves the best chance to win. If you simply fill out the application and wait for decision then you are wasting this time and not doing anything to help your claim now or in the future. Don't leave it up to the VA to make your claim for you. Even if you just do just some of the things I have mentioned you will be better off than if you do nothing while you wait for your decision from your application. 

If you are waiting for a Rating Decision after you applied for VA Compensation then take this time to find a lawyer and ask questions.  Feel free to call me at 1-877-527-5529 and I will answer any questions you have. 

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