For those who have served our country in the Armed Forces, Congress has passed laws that provide for extensive medical and disability benefits. Congress wrote these laws to be “veteran-friendly.” Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs does not always interpret these laws in favor of the veteran.
Click to listen to Brian Hill speak about veterans disability law and VA claims lawyers.
Types of VA Benefits
There are two basic types of benefits available through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. These are VA disability benefits and health benefits.
Veterans may be entitled to two different types of disability payments. These are service connected disability compensation benefits and non-service connected pension benefits.
VA service connected disability compensation benefits are monthly payments made to veterans, and, in some cases, their families. The veteran is entitled to compensation when he can show that this disability is related to an injury or event in service. The disability payments, known as the disability rating are based on the degree of the current disability. A veteran does not have to be completely disabled to receive compensation benefits.
For servicemen who served in a period of war, the VA law allows non-service connected pension benefit, regardless of whether the disability was service connected. This benefit is income and asset tested and only applies to those wartime veterans who do not have significant income and assets and are completely disabled.
Widows and widowers of deceased veterans may also be entitled to payments based on a disability of their spouse. The VA law provides for a monthly payment, known as DIC benefits, where a service connected condition contributed to the death of the veteran or where the veteran was totally disabled because of a service connected condition for a certain period of time before the death.
Making a Claim For VA Compensation
Retroactive Awards for Veterans Disability Claims
If you receive a favorable award from the VA, you should read the Rating Decision closely. You want to read what evidence the VA used to determine your rating. It is imperative to make sure that you received all the benefits to which you are entitled. Specifically, you should closely scrutinize these parts of the Rating Decision: the award of service connection, the degree of disability granted, and the effective date of the award.
As VA disability lawyers, we routinely see veterans win the battle of service connection only to lose the war of getting the proper compensation. What this means is that service connection is the acknowledgment by the VA that your disability is related to service. A lot of times the VA grants service connection and low balls the rating. The differences in the percentages for the ratings vary greatly from $100 to $3000. It is important to make sure that the rating VA assigned is the proper one. A good VA claim lawyer is going to review the VA’s C&P exams against the veteran’s own evidence to make sure that the full award is given. A lot of times this careful review results in an appeal to get the proper benefits.
Another common mistake is not to fully investigate the effective date. VA disability lawyers are going to look back at all your previous claims in the C file and determine if there is a way to take the benefits back further than the date of the current claim. In some cases, your award may have an effective date that could go back for decades. When this happens, the VA is required to pay you all of the benefits you would have received over the years. This could result in a very large award of money.