Veterans Disability Benefits

Shareholders Vicki W. Beyer and Marci H. Jordan, both members of the Workers’ Compensation Group, co-authored the article Veterans Disability Benefits: Navigating the VA’s Complex System, which was published on NJ.com on October 9, 2015.

The article explains the appeals process for denied VA benefits. Veterans who have served our country and are now suffering from disabilities can apply to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to receive benefits and compensation for the injuries they incurred during their service. Unfortunately, the process can be complicated and overwhelming, and sometimes veterans are denied benefits or awarded benefits at an incorrect rating as a result. If this happens, there is an appeals process, which can be equally convoluted. A veteran can increase his or her chance of succeeding on an appeal by selecting an attorney to represent them.

That being said, the most important aspect of this is that the attorney chosen should be accredited by the VA. “The accreditation process includes screening attorneys for their character and fitness, and requires them to be trained in representing disabled veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Furthermore, “[i]t is also important to note that, as a veteran, the individual will not have to pay his or her attorney until the end of their case, and only if he or she is awarded disability benefits.”

You can read the full article by clicking here.

As an attorney accredited to prosecute claims for veterans’ benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs, I want to make you aware that you have the absolute right to retain an attorney to represent you before the Department of Veterans Affairs. A Veteran can be represented by an attorney once he or she receives an official denial of benefits, but not before that time. An attorney cannot charge a fee for assistance in the preparation of the Veteran’s application for compensation.

It is important to remember that you must prove three things to be successful in obtaining a service connected disability award and receive compensation.

First, you must prove that you had an event that caused your disability while you were in service. Of course, you must be a veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, so it is best to have your DD214 form for your attorney to review. You are also entitled to compensation if an event that happened in the service aggravated a pre-existing condition. Remember that while most medical conditions become apparent right after the event happens, some medical conditions may not appear to be disabling until many years after military service. You can still file a claim for these late occurring conditions.

The second requirement is that you must have a current disability when you apply for your VA disability benefits. If you do not have a current disability, you will not be eligible to receive benefits. This means that you must have a medical professional diagnose you with a current medical condition, related to your military service, at the time you actually apply for the benefits. If you had a medical condition while you were in the service, and you recovered from it totally before you apply for benefits, you will not be eligible.

Finally, there must be a link between the current medical condition and the event that occurred while you were in the service. The best way to prove that you have a service related disability is by showing that you had medical treatment for a condition while you were in the military, and that you still suffer from the condition when you apply for VA disability benefits. Disabilities can be mental and/or physical. There are some conditions where you may not have had any actual treatment when you were in the military, and the disability occurred later after discharge. This is acceptable as long as you have a medical professional who can document that your activities in the military caused your current medical or physical disability. An example of this type of disability is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which often occurs at a later time.

There are certain conditions that are presumed to be from military service and do not have to be proven as service related. One example would include cases where the Veteran was exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam or Korean wars. Another would include certain medical conditions related to service in the Persian Gulf War.

If you have additional questions about your right to Veterans’ Disability Benefits, feel free to give us a call to discuss your options.

Veterans service-connected disability benefits are often denied or awarded at the incorrect rating or date of disability. If you find yourself in this position, you have the right to an appeal and you increase your chances of winning if you are represented by an attorney.

You can find a list of VA accredited attorneys here. An accredited attorney has been screened by the VA for character and fitness, has been trained to represent disabled veterans, and is required to engage in additional training to maintain accreditation every two years. Because appeals can take 3 ½ to 4 ½ years to process, attorneys fees are based upon benefits they obtain on your behalf and paid out of your past due benefits.

Continue Reading How Do I Appeal the Denial of Military Service Connected Disability Benefits and Do I Need an Attorney?