Supporting our veterans
VA Disability Lawyer
Our attorneys at Ash Law are committed to assisting veterans and their families to recover the benefits that they need and deserve. We know that it is a complex process to obtain benefits and multiple appeals are often necessary. Our law firm handles many kinds of veterans benefits claims, including survivor benefits, disability benefits, employment benefits, vocational rehabilitation educational benefits, health care, life insurance, home loans, pensions, and compensation.
If you have been denied death benefits or disability benefits, our veterans’ benefits lawyers might be able to assist you with appealing the decision. To learn more about how we can assist you in obtaining the benefits that you deserve, just fill out our no-obligation, free case review form and one of our attorneys will review your case and get in contact with you.
Why Do I Need To Hire a Lawyer?
Trying to appeal denied claims for a disability rating, death benefits, or disability benefits is a very complex process that is subject to thousands of laws and regulations. It is not expected that people who have been denied benefits will be able to understand these statutes by themselves. A lawyer can help to ensure the claimant meets all critical deadlines that the regulations outline, and also collect additional medical documents and records to provide further support for their claim. A veterans’ benefits lawyer can also help claimants avoid making mistakes which can delay their claims unnecessarily. Even if there are no complications, it can still take several hundred days before a final decision is received.
Denied Benefits: How Our Lawyers Can Assist You With Your VA Claim
If you were denied benefits, the lawyer you choose to work with can make a huge difference between receiving the right disability compensation rating and appropriate compensation, and your claim being denied once again. The most difficult aspect of receiving compensation is often proving that the disability of a veteran is connected to their military service. Our attorneys at Ash law have extensive experience with reviewing medical records. We use our experience to assist our clients to ensure they receive the benefits that they need and deserve.
Qualifying for Veterans Disability Benefits
There are four main requirements to be eligible for benefits:
- The applicant is required to be a veteran;
- The applicant is required to have a medical condition currently;
- The applicant is required to have sustained a disease or injury that occurred during their military service;
- The current disability of the applicant must relate to their time of military duty (including conditions or diseases that were exacerbated during their service).
Receiving disability benefits often is based on whether or not a veteran can prove that his or her illness or injury was related to their military service. In order to demonstrate that a disability is related to their service, the records of the veteran must contain these elements: a medical diagnosis of their current disability; medical evidence of the aggravation or development of an injury or disease while in service; and medical proof that there is a connection between the in-service disease or injury and the disability they currently have.
Disability Rating Percentages
Once the VA has reviewed an application, a rating decision is issued through the VA Regional Office where the claim was filed. The total benefits that are received by a veteran are based on the determination of the VA of the veteran’s percentage of disability. The percentages may range from 10 percent up to 100 percent and can pay a veteran from $129 to over $3,000 per month depending on how many dependents the veteran has and their disability rate. These benefits are tax-free, and people can receive both veteran’s disability and Social Security Disability (SSDI, SSD) at the same time, without any offset.
The disability ratings range from 10 percent up to 100 percent (full disability) and provide the following monthly disability payments. The figures (effective 12/12) represent only the benefits for the individual. It doesn’t factor in potential dependents which increase the total benefit amount.
100 percent – $2816
90 percent – $1689
80 percent – $1503
70 percent – $1293
60 percent – $1026
50 percent – $810
40 percent – $569
30 percent – $395
20 percent – $255
10 percent – $129
The VA states that veterans who receive a 30 percent or higher disability rating and obtain additional allowances for their dependents, which includes any children under 18 years old; children 18 to 23 years old who are in school still; minor children who have a disability that makes them incapable of supporting themselves; spouses; and dependent parents. Those additional benefits amounts are based on the type and number of dependents in addition to the disability rating percentage. Percentages for Veterans who have Multiple Disabilities
Whenever a veteran suffers from having multiple service-related diseases or disabilities, a special formula is used for establishing the person’s total disability rating level. The first thing that the VA does is rank the disabilities from the most severe down to the least severe. Next, they examine the disability that is the most serious to determine how efficient a veteran can be.
For example, if the most severe disability that a veteran has is assigned at 30 percent by the VA, that means the veteran is still considered to be 70 percent efficient. The VA will then consider the disability that is the second most serious. If the second disability of a veteran is deemed to be at a 10 percent rating, then 10 percent of the 70 percent efficiency that remains is evaluated. The number is 7 percent in this case. It is added to the original 30 percent disability rating and equals 37 percent. The number is then rounded down or up. The veteran in this example would be considered to be 40 percent disabled.
VA Disability Rating Changes
After a disability rating is received by a veteran, there are certain situations where the VA is allowed to change it. The VA might require a re-exam six months after a veteran has left military service, and then follow-up re-exams in two to five years in order to determine whether or not the disability exits still or its severity has been reduced.
Often the exams are used if it is expected that the veteran’s disability will improve, there has been evidence presented that indicates the disability has changed, or the person’s current disability rating percentage is not right. In those situations, a veteran’s benefits might be completely stopped or reduced.
There are also several situations where a veteran’s disability rating may not be reduced. For example, if a veteran has been given a 100 percent disability rating that cannot be reduced unless a re-exam is ordered by the VA or there is evidence that shows that a veteran is able to maintain a job for a period of 12 consecutive months and is exhibiting “material improvement” in their emotional and physical well-being.
Also, if the veteran has received benefits for over twenty years, and suffers from a total and permanent disability, their disability rating cannot be reduced. The VA is allowed to order a re-exam if the veteran has received benefits for more than two decades for a disability that is not “total” or “permanent.” However, their benefits cannot drop below their original compensation level. For example, if a 60 percent disability rating percentage is received by a veteran and he receives benefits for twenty years in a row, but a re-exam shows he is just 40 percent disabled, then his benefits cannot be lower than the rate that is connected to the 60 percent rating.
How To Appeal Veterans Disability Benefits
The VA rates most disabilities at 20 percent or lower. Whenever a veteran thinks their disability rating is too low, an appeal can be filed. If benefits are denied by the VA or compensate a claimant inadequately, an appeal of this ruling can be filed (VA Form 9 and Notice of Disagreement). To prepare for their appeal, the veteran is required to go to the VA medical facility where they had their pension and compensation physical.
The applicant should then get in touch with the Freedom of Information office to receive a copy of their doctor’s report. If the physician’s report does not describe the disability accurately, the VA can be contacted in writing by the veteran to ask for another medical examination and to explain why they believe their condition has not been documented accurately. Another option is the veteran can see their own doctor in order to get another medical report and send it to the VA. The VA might order a re-exam in those cases.
At the same time that the Notice of Disagreement is filed, or after a decision at this step is reached, a veteran can request a decision review officer (DRO) review or a traditional appellate review. The office is not involved in determining the disability rating of the veteran and conducts his or her own review instead. A DRO can only review ratings that have not been finalized yet. A DRO only can increase a rating unless an egregious and clear mistake was made in assigning a higher than warranted disability rating.
If a claimant does not agree with the decision that the DRO has rendered, it can be further appealed to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). A claimant is allowed to bring a representative (non-profit, company, attorney, etc.) to this meeting. If a claimant is once again denied, it can be appealed one more time to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Between each of those steps, there are just small windows of time. If those time limits are not met by a service member, they might end up being ineligible to receive benefits.
A wide range of services and benefits are offered by the VA for deceased veterans’ dependent children, spouses, and dependent parents. Those benefits include:
- Life Insurance Proceeds
- Home Loan Guaranty
- Health Care
- Education and Training
- Death Pension
- Dependency and Indemnity
- Compensation (DIC)
- Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity
- Burial-Related Benefits
- Exchange and Commissary Privileges
- Civil Service Preference
- Education Program Refund
Ash Law is among the country’s top social security law firms. We handle claims for personal injury disputes, workers’ compensation, social security, and a number of other practice areas. We take great pride in providing these resources to assist our veterans. If your claim has been denied, we might be able to assist you.
Our veterans’ benefits attorneys have earned the reputation of advocating effectively for veterans and their families, and we are honored to help with these claims. Fill out our free case review form to learn more and to contact our lawyers today.