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Our veterans in Lexington have been through a lot and it is only right that they receive the proper care and benefits for their service. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the primary responsibility for administering pensions, disability payments, and providing medical care for Americans who served in the armed forces. Unfortunately, they do not always make it easy for our veterans to get the benefits they need.
At Morgan & Morgan, our Lexington attorneys are dedicated to helping veterans and their loved ones recover the benefits they deserve. Having handled veterans benefits claims for decades, we understand that obtaining benefits is a complicated process that often involves multiple appeals. Our firm handles many types of claims for veterans benefits, including disability benefits, survivor benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and employment benefits, educational benefits, life insurance, health care; home loans; and compensation and pension.
If you have been denied disability benefits or death benefits, our veterans’ benefits attorneys may be able to help you appeal this decision. To find out if we can help you receive the benefits you deserve, simply fill out our free case evaluation form today.
The VA offers a wide range of benefits and services for the spouses, dependent children and dependent parents of deceased veterans. These benefits include the following:
- Education Program Refund;
- Civil Service Preference;
- Commissary and Exchange Privileges;
- Burial Related Benefits;
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC);
- Parents’ DIC;
- Death Pension;
- Education and Training;
- Health Care;
- Home Loan Guaranty; and
- Life Insurance Proceeds.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney?
Appealing a denied claim for disability benefits, death benefits or a disability rating increase is an overly complicated process, which is subject to thousands of pages of regulations and laws. Those who have been denied benefits are not expected to be able to comprehend on these statues on their own.
An attorney can help the claimant meet important deadlines outlined by these regulations, as well as gather additional medical records and documents to support their claim. Additionally, a veterans’ benefits attorney can help the claimant avoid mistakes which may unnecessarily delay their claim; even without complication, it takes several hundred days to receive a final decision.
Eligibility for Veterans Disability Benefits
To qualify for benefits, there are four basic requirements:
- The applicant must be a veteran;
- The applicant must have a current medical condition;
- The applicant must have sustained an injury or disease that happened during service;
- The applicant’s current disability must be related to their time in duty (includes diseases or conditions that were exacerbated during service).
Obtaining disability benefits often hinges on whether the veteran can prove that his injury of illness was related to the service. To show that a disability is service-related, the veteran’s record must contain the following: a medical diagnosis of a current disability; medical proof of the development or aggravation of a disease or injury in service; and medical evidence of a connection between the in-service injury or disease and the current disability.
Disability Rating Percentages
After reviewing an application, the VA issues a rating decision through the Regional Office (RO) where the application was filed. The total benefits a veteran receives is based on the VA’s determination of their percentage of disability. These percentages can range from 10 to 100 percent, and can net veterans anywhere between $129 and more than $3000 per month, depending on disability rate and number of dependents.
Benefits are tax-free, and individuals may receive both Social Security Disability (SSD, SSDI) and veterans’ disability at the same time, with no offset. According to the VA, veterans who receive a disability rating of 30 percent or more can receive additional allowances for dependents, which include children under the age of 18; children between the ages of 18 and 23 who are still in school; minor children with a disability that makes them incapable of self-support; dependent parents; and spouses. These additional benefit amounts will be based on the disability rating percentage, as well as number and type of dependents.
Appealing Veterans Disability Benefits
Most disabilities are rated by the VA at 20 percent or less. When a veteran believes their disability rating is too low, they can file an appeal. If the VA denies benefits or inadequately compensated a claimant, an appeal of the ruling (Notice of Disagreement, NOD, and VA Form 9) can be filed. To prepare for this appeal, the veteran must visit the VA medical facility where they received their compensation and pension physical.
Next, the applicant should contact the Freedom of Information office to obtain a copy of the physician’s report. If the doctors report does not accurately describe the disability, the veteran can contact the VA in writing to request another medical exam and to explain why they suspect their condition has not been accurately documented. As an alternative option, the veteran can visit their own doctor to obtain another medical report, which they can send to the VA. In these cases, the VA may order a re-examination.
At the same time as the Notice of Disagreement, or after a decision at that step, a veteran may ask for a traditional appellate-review or review by a decision review officer (DRO). The officer was not involved in determining the veteran’s disability rating and will carry out their own review. Only ratings that have not yet been finalized can be reviewed by a DRO. A DRO can only increase a rating, unless a clear and egregious mistake has been made in assigning a higher rating than warranted.
If the claimant does not like the decision rendered by the DRO, they can appeal further to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). The claimant is permitted to bring a representative (attorney, company, non-profit, etc.) to the meeting. If a claimant, is denied again, they can appeal once more to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). There are very small windows of time between each of these steps, and if a service member does not meet these time limits, they may become ineligible for benefits.
Denied Benefits: How Our Attorneys Can Help With Your VA Claim
If you have been denied benefits, the attorney you select could make the difference between receiving appropriate compensation and the correct disability compensation rating, and having your claim denied again. Proving that a veterans’ disability is connected with their military service is often the most challenging part of receiving compensation.
At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys have extensive experience reviewing medical records and use this experience to help our clients receive the benefits they deserve. Our veterans’ benefits lawyers have earned a reputation for effectively advocating on behalf of veterans and their loved ones, and we are privileged to assist with these claims.
If your claim was denied, please contact our attorneys today by completing our free case evaluation form.