Following the Civil War, the Veterans Administration (VA) was born, and charged with caring for veterans by administering pensions and disability payments, as well as providing medical care.
But poor funding, personnel shortfalls, and sometimes sub-par administration have made it unnecessarily difficult for the more than 20 million veterans currently living in the U.S. – a little less than half a million of whom live in the state of Alabama – to obtain the benefits they deserve. More than 40,000 live in Jefferson County alone, according to the VA.
Morgan & Morgan veterans’ benefits attorneys know how to cut through the seemingly insurmountable red tape that surrounds veterans’ benefits. We are one of only a handful of firms practicing in this challenging area of law and are proud to assist Birmingham veterans in obtaining compensation for their service-connected injuries, disabilities and diseases.
What Benefits are Available to Alabama Veterans?
United States veterans are entitled to a number of benefits after being discharged from the armed forces. Most are granted fairly routinely. However, meeting the requirements for some benefits, particularly veterans’ disability benefits, requires the veteran to meet a number of complex criteria and show: They suffer from a fully or partially disabling disease or condition The condition is “service-connected” – in other words, that it was caused by something they experienced in military service.
Clearly, if a soldier is badly injured in the line of duty, establishing this connection is not typically difficult. However, soldiers who develop chronic conditions later in life, such as those connected to chemical or radiation exposure, or those who suffer from severe mental health conditions, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may have a more difficult time. While numerous non-profit Veterans Service Organizations exist to help with the initial application process, these organizations often lack the resources, experience, and training to carry on when initial claims are denied.
This is where an experienced Birmingham veterans’ benefits lawyer can be a valuable ally.
The Veterans’ Benefits Rating and Appeal Process
In Birmingham, veterans’ disability benefits are awarded and calculated based on a percentage system. Unlike Social Security Disability, which requires the claimant be totally disabled, a veteran can qualify for benefits if they are partially disabled.
A percentage rating is assigned to each service-connected condition. These individual ratings are totaled together using a complicated formula to reach an overall disability score. A veteran who has at least one condition rated at 40 percent and a total rating of 70 percent can argue that they are totally unable to work, despite having a rating of less than 100 percent disabled, by making a claim for total disability by means of individual unemployability (TDIU).
Because it is so difficult to reach 100 percent, even with multiple service-connected conditions, this is often an advisable route to take. When the functionaries evaluating initial veterans disability claims determine that a condition is not service related, or assign a rating that does not reflect the seriousness of the disability, the claimant can have their case heard before a judge of the Board of Veterans Appeals.
A further appeal can then be taken to a special federal court, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and ultimately to a United States Court of Appeal and the United States Supreme Court.
Alabama Veterans with Disabilities Deserve Experienced Representation
Unfortunately, Birmingham veterans who are suffering because of service-related disabilities frequently struggle to get the compensation they deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The process can be confusing and even a small misstep can set a claim back by months or years.
Morgan & Morgan’s veterans’ benefits attorneys understand the operating procedures of the DVA, the Board of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
We have helped numerous Alabama veterans navigate the disability claims and appeals process successfully. Contact us today by filling out a free case evaluation to have your case evaluated by a veterans’ disability attorney for free.