14 Nov 5 Things You Should Know About VA Disability Claims
VA Disability Compensation is awarded to veterans with service-connected disabilities. Here are five things you need to know about filing a claim.
Veterans can file for VA Disability Compensation at any time
Veterans who were discharged from the military years ago may believe they can no longer file for VA Disability benefits. This is a myth; one which will inhibit you from getting the benefits you deserve. A veteran can file a claim if he/she:
- Sustained injury or illness during service in the military.
- Had a pre-existing condition that was worsened because of service.
- Or, developed a condition post-service that can be linked to active-duty service.
Given that a veteran meets any of these three conditions, he or she is eligible for VA Disability Compensation and can apply at any time.
Active duty military personnel can file a VA Disability claim
Individuals nearing the end of their service can file a VA Disability claim through the Benefit Delivery at Discharge Program (BDD). More specifically, service-members may do so within 180 to 90 days before leaving the military. An in-service exam will be performed to establish the cause and severity of one’s medical conditions, thus determining the VA rating. This allows veterans to receive benefits shortly after discharge.
It is important to note that claims which require “special handling” can not use the BDD program. Examples include: The loss of a body part, terminal illness, and pregnancy. Visit the VA’s Pre-discharge Claim for a full list of exceptions.
Missing the C&P Exam will undoubtedly hurt your claim
In some instances, the VA will require a claimant to attend a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. This exam is performed by a VA physician to gather more information about the claimant’s medical condition(s). Missing your scheduled appointment will negatively affect your claim in two ways. First, it will delay the claims process as the VA will need time to reschedule. Second, it will hinder the VA’s ability to collect the evidence necessary for making an informed disability determination. Visit Compensation and Pension Exam for more information.
It is beneficial to collect your own medical records
A veteran can obtain his/her Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) from the National Personnel Records Center. Although the VA can request these records on behalf of the claimant, it can take several months. It is beneficial to request your OMPF prior to filing the VA claim as this may have useful evidence.
Veterans should also personally request records from private providers. The need for a claimant’s private records to be requested may go unnoticed because the VA is inundated with claims. Moreover, private providers may ignore the VA’s request. It will be faster and more efficient for a veteran to personally request their own medical records.
You can have attorney assistance
Veterans can retain a lawyer to assist with their VA claim. This is advantageous because attorneys know the ins and outs of VA law, and are better suited to navigate denials and appeals.