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.