We have answers to some of the most commonly asked questions and concerns veterans may have about our law firm and about the VA disability claims process. Check them out below. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to hit the “ask the question” button at the bottom of the page and see if it can’t help find an answer for you!
About our Firm
Many companies in the VA disability benefits field require upfront payments from veterans before offering any assistance.
We understand that this can be a burden for those who are already struggling financially. At our firm, we do things differently.
We charge nothing upfront and work on a contingency basis.
This means that we only collect a fee if we successfully win your claim and recover retroactive benefits on your behalf.
If we are unable to win your claim, you owe us nothing.
Our firm has been assisting disabled veterans for over 30 years, and we believe that this approach is the most effective way to serve our clients.
Hill & Ponton is a law firm accredited by the VA and founded by Navy veteran and attorney Brian Hill, along with experienced disability attorney Carol Ponton in Florida.
Although we cannot accept every case, we provide more than 100 free articles and videos on VA disability benefits.
Our firm takes pride in our work and is dedicated to assisting veterans and their families on a daily basis.
Hill and Ponton has a success rate of 96% with the VA cases we have accepted.
VA disability attorneys can assist in interpreting complex legal language and complex calculations.
They can help to ensure that your disability claim is backed by sufficient evidence, increasing the likelihood of a successful appeal.
The VA encourages veterans to seek assistance from VSOs or legal professionals when considering appeals, as this can greatly improve the chances of a favorable outcome.
A fee waiver is when a charge or financial obligation, like a legal fee, is reduced or completely removed. Here’s why our firm might consider offering a fee waiver in the event of a switch from another lawyer:
Client Protection: It’s important to us that you’re able to access quality legal representation without facing financial hardship. If you’ve already paid substantial fees to a previous lawyer, we may offer a fee waiver to ease any additional financial burden.
Better Service for Veterans: Our aim is to provide the best possible service to our veterans. If a fee waiver makes it easier for you to switch to our firm, we see this as a step towards improving your representation and satisfaction.
Ethics and Guideline: We follow the VA’s rules and regulations about what fees attorneys can charge veterans. In certain cases, a fee waiver might be necessary to adhere to these guidelines and ensure you’re not charged excessive fees.
Please note, we carefully consider every fee waiver on a case-by-case basis to maintain a fair and sustainable practice. If you’re thinking about switching legal representation and have questions about our fees, we recommend you reach out to us directly for a personalized discussion.
Our Free Case Evaluation process involves a private conversation with one of our skilled Disability Services Coordinators, who will conduct a comprehensive assessment using a set of carefully curated questions designed by our legal team.
The purpose of this evaluation is to determine whether your case is eligible for our assistance.
If we determine that we may be able to help, we will request specific documentation, which will then be reviewed by our attorney, Matthew Hill.
He personally reviews cases on a weekly basis, ensuring that every case is given individual attention and care.
We provide assistance to veterans across the nation and operate as a paperless law firm.
Although we are based in Florida, we offer virtual consultations through various means such as phone, Zoom/Skype, email, fax, and traditional mail.
Please inform us of your state to avoid any inconvenience due to time differences.
With decades of experience practicing VA law, we understand the complexity of this legal area and the importance of providing high-quality representation.
We recognize that VA cases can be lengthy and require a nuanced approach.
Therefore, we cannot accept every case that comes our way, as we want to ensure that we can provide our full attention to each client we work with.
Applying for VA Disability Benefits
VA disability benefits are available for a range of conditions, including (but not limited to) diagnosis’ such as:
- Chronic (long-lasting) back pain resulting in a current diagnosed back disability
- Breathing problems resulting from a current lung condition or lung disease
- Severe hearing loss
- Scar tissue
- Loss of range of motion (problems moving your body)
- Cancers or other conditions caused by contact with toxic chemicals or other dangers
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It’s important to note that these are just a few examples and not an exhaustive list. Read more about some of the top claimed disabilities here.
If you have multiple disability ratings, the VA will calculate your combined VA disability rating.
However, it’s important to note that calculating your combined disability rating involves more than just adding up your individual ratings.
As a result, your combined rating may differ from the sum of your individual ratings.
Learn more about VA Math and calculating multiple VA disabilities here.
No, you cannot receive VA disability benefits while you are still on active duty.
However, you may be eligible for other types of benefits and compensation through the military, such as medical care or convalescent leave.
Once you are separated or retired from the military, you can apply for VA disability benefits if you have a service-connected condition.
It’s important to note that the VA disability claims process can take time, so it’s recommended that you begin the process as soon as possible to avoid delays in receiving the benefits you deserve.
The amount of time it takes to receive a decision on a VA disability claim varies depending on the complexity of the claim and the availability of evidence.
In general, it can take several months to over a year to receive a decision.
However, there are certain circumstances that may expedite the process, such as if you are experiencing extreme financial hardship or have a terminal illness.
To help expedite the process, it’s important to ensure that all required forms and documentation are submitted accurately and in a timely manner.
You may also want to consider working with a VA-accredited attorney or claims agent who can help you navigate the process and ensure that your claim is properly prepared and submitted.
If your service-connected disability worsens over time, you may be eligible for an increase in your disability rating, which could result in an increase in your monthly benefits.
You will need to file a claim for an increased rating and provide medical evidence to support your claim.
It’s important to note that the VA will only backdate benefits to the date that you filed your claim, so it’s important to file as soon as possible if you believe your disability has worsened.
Additionally, if your condition reaches a point where you are no longer able to work, you may be eligible for Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, which provide compensation at the 100% disability rate even if your rating is lower.
SSDI and VA disability compensations are not affected by each other, so you may be eligible to receive both.
However, you must apply for them separately.
It may be possible to also qualify for SSI, depending on income and resources.
If your VA disability claim is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision through the VA’s appeal process.
The appeal process involves several stages, including filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) and potentially attending a hearing before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).
You have one year from the date of the decision letter to file a NOD, which informs the VA of your disagreement with their decision.
Once the NOD is filed, the VA will issue a Statement of the Case (SOC) which explains the evidence and law used to make their decision.
You can then file a VA Form 9 to appeal to the BVA. If you choose to attend a hearing, you can present your case to a Veterans Law Judge who will make a decision.
If you still disagree with the decision, you may be able to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
It’s important to note that the appeal process can be lengthy and complex, so it’s often helpful to work with an experienced VA disability attorney to navigate the process–and Hill & Ponton is here to help if you need us.
Your disability rating is determined by the severity of your service-connected condition or conditions.
The rating is assigned on a scale of 0 to 100%, in increments of 10.
The higher your rating, the more severe your condition and the more compensation you will receive each month.
To determine your rating, the VA uses the criteria set forth in the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD).
This is a complex document that outlines the various conditions and disabilities that can be service-connected, and provides detailed criteria for rating the severity of each condition.
Your rating is based on the medical evidence you submit, such as medical records, doctor’s reports, and test results, as well as any other evidence you provide about how your condition affects your daily life.
It’s important to note that a disability rating is not permanent and can be changed if your condition improves or worsens.
Additionally, if you have multiple service-connected conditions, the VA will use a combined rating system to determine your overall disability rating.
Your disability rating not only determines the amount of compensation you will receive each month, but it also affects your eligibility for other VA benefits, such as healthcare and vocational rehabilitation.
If you disagree with the VA’s decision on your disability rating, you have the option to appeal the decision.
You can submit a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of the VA’s decision.
The NOD must state which decisions you disagree with and why you disagree with them.
After you submit the NOD, you can request a Decision Review Officer (DRO) review or a traditional appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).
During a DRO review, a senior VA employee will review your case and make a decision.
If you choose a traditional appeal, your case will be reviewed by a Veterans Law Judge.
It’s important to note that the appeals process can be lengthy and complex, and it may be helpful to seek the assistance of a VA disability benefits specialist or attorney to help guide you.
At Hill & Ponton, we are here to help assist if needed. If you would like more information or to get in touch with our team, learn more information here.
Retroactive benefits are payments for the period of time between when you became eligible for VA disability benefits and when you actually begin receiving them.
This is known as the retroactive or “back pay” period.
The amount of retroactive benefits you may receive will depend on several factors, such as the effective date of your disability claim and the date you became eligible for benefits.
It’s important to note that retroactive benefits are not automatic and you will need to apply for them separately.
If you believe you are eligible for retroactive benefits, you should contact a VA disability benefits specialist or an attorney who can assist you in filing the necessary paperwork.
Yes, it is possible to work and receive VA disability benefits, but it depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
If you have a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits if your disability prevents you from maintaining substantial gainful employment.
IU benefits provide compensation at the 100% rate, even if your disability is rated at less than 100%.
However, if you are able to work despite your disability, your VA disability compensation may be reduced based on your income level.
The VA determines the amount of your compensation based on your combined disability rating and the number of dependents you have.
If you receive other income, such as from work, the VA may adjust your compensation based on your income level.
It’s important to note that you must report any changes in your income or employment status to the VA in a timely manner to ensure that your benefits are accurately adjusted.
Failure to report changes in your circumstances may result in an overpayment of benefits, which may need to be repaid.
VA disability benefits and VA pension benefits are two separate programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to eligible veterans.
VA disability benefits are intended to provide compensation to veterans who have a service-connected disability or medical condition that occurred or was aggravated during their military service.
The amount of compensation is based on the severity of the disability or condition, as determined by the VA’s disability rating system.
The disability benefits are tax-free and are not dependent on the veteran’s income or assets.
On the other hand, VA pension benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to wartime veterans who have limited income and assets, and who are disabled or over the age of 65.
To qualify for VA pension benefits, veterans must have served during a wartime period and must meet specific income and asset requirements.
The amount of pension benefits is based on the veteran’s income, as well as their marital status and number of dependents