Our veterans 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 have served in the armed forces.
However, 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.— 1.5 million of whom live in the state of Florida— to obtain the benefits they deserve.
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 are proud to assist Ocala veterans in obtaining compensation for their service-connected injuries, disabilities, and diseases.
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 and to 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. If a soldier is severely 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 Ocala veterans’ benefits lawyer comes in.
Types of Injuries That Qualify for Disability Benefits
Generally, a veteran must be at least, by quantifiable measures, 10 percent disabled by injuries that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, training, or inactive duty training to qualify for benefits.
A veteran may also qualify for VA benefits for post-service disabilities that are related to disabilities that occurred in service. If a veteran has dependents, an additional allowance may be added if his or her combined disability is rated 30 percent or greater.
Our Ocala attorneys have experience helping veterans who have the following injuries receive disability benefits from the VA:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
- Back and Spinal Injuries
- Gulf War Syndrome
- Medical Conditions Caused by Exposure to Depleted Uranium
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Tropical Diseases, such as dysentery and malaria
- Gunshot Wounds
- Shrapnel Wounds from Improvised Explosive Devices
- Knee, Leg, and Arm Injuries
The Veteran’s Benefits Rating and Appeal Process
In Florida, veterans’ disability benefits are awarded and calculated 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 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.
Florida Veterans with Disabilities Deserve Experienced Representation
Unfortunately, Ocala veterans who are suffering because of service-related disabilities frequently struggle to get the compensation they deserve from the VA. 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.
If you suspect your claim has been improperly denied by the VA, an Ocala veterans’ disability attorney can review your medical condition and determine if an appeal should be filed.
To contact an Ocala veterans’ benefits attorney, please complete our free case evaluation form today.