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.
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
Congress designed the veterans’ claim process to be veterans’ friendly. As President Lincoln said the purpose of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” There is no time limit on when a claim can be brought. Congress recognized that, sometimes, an event that occurred in service may take many years to cause a disability. In these cases, the veteran is entitled to bring a claim no matter how long it has been since he got out of the service.
Just as important, a veteran has the right to reopen a claim that has already been denied by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In order to get another chance at proving his claim, all the veteran needs to do is produce new and material evidence showing that his claim should be granted.
Retroactive Awards for Veterans Disability Claims
If you receive a favorable award from the VA, you should read the Rating Decision closely 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.
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
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.
Why Hire a Veterans Disability Lawyer
Veteran’s Disability Law is an extremely complex area of law. Prior to 2006, veterans were not allowed to hire attorneys to represent them in the Regional Office and the BVA. This law was changed in 2006 with the recognition by Congress that veterans should have the right to hire legal representation in this very important area of law. In veteran’s disability claims, legal representation helps clarify the issues and helps ensure that the claim is properly supported by evidence so that the claim can be appealed, if necessary. Learn more.