Birmingham Veterans' Benefits
Following the Civil War, the Veterans Administration (VA) was born, charged with caring for veterans by providing pensions and disability payments, as well as medical care. It is now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But poor funding, personnel shortfalls, and sometimes subpar administration have made it unnecessarily difficult for the more than 20 million veterans 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 this assistance. 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 applicant to meet a number of complex criteria. They must show they suffer from a fully or partially disabling disease or condition. The affliction must be “service-connected” — in other words, it must have been caused by something they experienced in military service.
If a soldier is badly injured in the line of duty, establishing this connection is not typically difficult. However, veterans 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 nonprofit Veterans Service Organizations exist to help with the initial application process, they 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 that 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 assessments are totaled using a complicated formula to reach an overall disability score. A veteran who has at least one condition rated at 40% and a total rating of 70% can argue that they are totally unable to work, despite having a rating of less than 100% disabled, by making a claim for total disability by means of individual unemployability (TDIU).
Because it is so difficult to reach 100%, 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 Appeals and the U.S. 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 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 VA, 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 claim assessed by a veterans' disability attorney for free.