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Caring for our veterans has always been a rocky prospect in America, dating back to Shays’ Rebellion, an event that weighed significantly on the writing of the Constitution. Later on, after the Civil War, the Veterans Administration (VA), now the Department of Veterans Affairs, was born.
The VA is responsible for administering pensions and disability payments, and providing medical care for Americans who have served in the armed forces. But poor funding, personnel shortfalls, and sometimes sub-par administration have made it increasingly difficult for the more than 20 million veterans currently living in the U.S. – 1.5 million of whom live in the state of Florida – to obtain the benefits they deserve. More than 60,000 live in Brevard County alone, according to the VA.
Morgan & Morgan’s 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 our Melbourne office is proud to assist veterans in the area in obtaining compensation for their service-connected injuries, disabilities and diseases. Fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form to learn more today.
What Benefits are Available to Florida Veterans?
United States veterans are entitled to a number of benefits after being discharged from the armed forces. Most are granted fairly routinely. However, qualifying for some benefits, particularly veterans’ disability benefits, requires the veteran to meet a number of complex criteria. Specifically, they must show: a) that they suffer from a fully or partially disabling disease or condition, and b) that condition is “service-connected” – in other words, that it was caused by something they experienced in military service.
This is similar to workers’ compensation benefits. 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, those who develop diseases due 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 Melbourne veterans’ benefits lawyer comes in.
The Veterans’ Benefits Rating and Appeal Process
In Melbourne, 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 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 rating. 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 government workers evaluating initial veterans disability claims determine 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.
Florida Veterans with Disabilities Deserve Experienced Representation
Unfortunately, Melbourne 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.
The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan understand the operating procedures of the DVA, the Board of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We have helped numerous Florida veterans navigate the disability claims and appeals process successfully. Contact us today by filling out our form to have your case evaluated by a veterans’ disability attorney for free.