The process of applying through the federal government for disability benefits as a military veteran can prove to be a long and tedious process. To help eliminate some of the stress and get a clear direction, many veterans have found it extremely valuable to have an experienced lawyer in the trenches with them. Everyone knows that attorneys are not able to force the Veterans Administration to determine claims any quicker, but the presence of a legal representative can help ensure that all available benefits are given to eligible veterans. Without question, the complexity of rules and regulations surrounding these claims often makes the issue very difficult to understand. In addition, changes occur very frequently, thus complicating the process even more.
VA Benefits Explained
Numerous types of services and benefits are available through the Veterans Administration to individuals who have performed military service. Among the benefits provided are:
- Education (such as GI bill)
- Health care services
- Disability benefits (injury or illness connected to military service)
Disability compensation provided through the VA is specifically for veterans who became ill or injured during their military service. The benefit is also available to military personnel who already had a medical condition when they entered the service, but their condition worsened after serving. Recipients receive a monthly payment that is tax-free.
As it should be, veterans are supposed to get medical care for the above-mentioned medical conditions and other injures that qualify. However, veterans often face huge hurdles in getting such care, particularly in situations where their initial disability claim is denied by the VA. In such cases, it may be best for veterans to enlist the assistance of a VA disability attorney who can help ensure that deserved benefits are actually received.
Advantages of Having a VA Disability Attorney
Complex Regulations and Laws
When reviewing disability claims, the VA uses very complex regulations and laws in making determinations. As a result, the rate of error when applying the regulations and rules is very high, even for the VA itself.
Data provided by the Veterans Benefits Administration shows that 1.5 million veterans or more have been granted disability status for spinal medical issues as of late September 2018. Of all claims processed by VBA in the period of January 1 through June 30 of that year, over half of the 62,500 claims decided during that time frame were incorrectly processed. This information comes from the VA’s Office of Inspector General. Some of the errors listed include evaluations resulting from inadequate exams, missed secondary conditions, and improper evaluations.
Attorneys who work with veteran disability claims know how to properly interpret the regulations and laws. Incidentally, all attorneys providing services to veterans have to be accredited by VA. To keep accreditation, the lawyers must take continuing educational legal courses and stay current on rules, regulations, and laws.
Develop a Strong Case
Experienced attorneys know how to maximize every piece of existing evidence to build a strong case that proves a disability claim meets all requirements. If a veteran has been denied by the VA due to lack of evidence or no evidence, a skilled lawyer can assist by helping to prove the medical condition is related to military service.
Handle Challenging Claims
Certain kinds of claims are less-favorably viewed by the VA or may simply be more difficult to prove. For example, disabilities related to mental illness fall into this category. The VA has typically looked unfavorably upon and downgraded the seriousness of mental health issues stemming from military service. While the general public may have more awareness of conditions like PTSD, problems with the diagnosis still seem to plague the VA. Veterans with mental illness claims continue to experience misunderstandings and less-favorable treatment when being considered for disability.
Help Reduce Delays
While it isn’t possible for attorneys to speed up the appeal process, skilled lawyers are able to collect necessary documentation and evidence faster. This allows the appeals process to begin quicker and helps cut down on turnaround time for responding to subsequent requests for additional information. Often, experienced disability attorneys catch errors very early and help prevent further delays. Even just slicing off a couple of weeks here and there can really speed up the whole process.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
Veterans may choose to initially apply for VA benefits without having a legal representative. They may use an agent or a service organization for veterans to get help completing the application. However, if veterans then receive a denial letter and want to file an appeal, they should consider speaking with an attorney. Additionally, if denied veterans require a discharge upgrade in order to qualify for benefits, an experienced lawyer can assist with this process.
What Causes VA Benefit Claims to be Denied?
Every year, the Veterans Health Administration dispenses care to millions of veterans. Unfortunately, many veterans are denied deserved disability benefits, though. The reasons for these denials are varied and can include:
- A missed deadline for the claim or the appeal
- Failure to complete the Compensation and Pension exam by the deadline
- Lack of evidence to prove a condition is a disability or is service-related
- Pre-existing disability not related to military service
When a veteran’s claim is denied, the aid of an attorney with an understanding of VA regulations and laws can help ensure that the appropriate benefits are actually received.
Questions to Ask an Attorney
Any veteran considering hiring a disability lawyer should ask questions like:
- Is the attorney VA accredited?
- Length of time practicing veterans law?
- Date of last veterans’ law training?
- Can the attorney assist in getting the earliest effective date for benefits?
- Can the attorney assist in getting the highest possible rating of disability?
- Will the attorney handle the case completely through Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims?
- If CAVC case, is the attorney admitted to practice in this venue?
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm
The Eichholz Law Firm is dedicated to helping brave men and women who faithfully served our country and now need rightful compensation for disabilities sustained. Give our legal team a call right away for help with your disability claim.