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Evansville, IN Veterans Benefits Lawyers
Serving our country is one of the greatest honors a person can achieve. However, veterans often return home with significant injuries, so it’s important to know what benefits you may be entitled to and how to access them. Injuries can be both physical and mental and can have long-lasting effects. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers different types of benefit programs for veterans and their dependent family members. These benefits can help pay for disability compensation as well as other programs.
If you need assistance, Morgan & Morgan is here for you. All our attorneys have been handling claims for veterans for decades, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure you receive the help and the benefits you’re entitled to. Our Evansville, IN veterans benefits lawyers have the experience you need. Contact Morgan & Morgan today to schedule a free consultation.
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Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits?
In the United States, many injured veterans qualify for certain benefits and compensation. The Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) provides these benefits and sets the requirements for eligibility. To receive disability benefits from the VA, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Your illness, injury, or disability began while you were actively serving
- An existing illness, injury, or disability worsened while you were actively serving
- You started experiencing symptoms of an illness, injury, or disability within 12 months after your service, and it was a direct result of that service
Common injuries and disabilities include chronic pain, loss of a limb, hearing loss, vision loss, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other injuries and disorders.
How do You Apply for Disability Benefits?
If you were injured in the line of duty and believe you are eligible for veteran disability benefits, you should start gathering evidence so you can receive your benefits as soon as possible. It’s always a good idea to speak with experienced Evansville, IN veterans benefits lawyers
first to ensure that you submit everything that is required and to ensure that you avoid a denial of your claim.
Start by gathering all of your medical records, including VA medical records and private hospital records as well. Anything related to your injury or illness will be required and will help you be successful in your claim. You can also include statements from friends and family who can share information about your injury, how it has worsened, and how it is affecting your day-to-day life.
To apply for benefits, you can submit the paperwork online, through the mail, or in person. The easiest and quickest way to apply is on the VA’s website. Working with an attorney is the best way to make sure your claim is handled quickly and effectively.
In addition to monthly payments for disability benefits, some veterans are eligible for a VA pension, which helps disabled or retired veterans. To be eligible, you must have low income and assets, have served for 90 days, including at least one day of service during wartime, and have a total and permanent disability or be 65 or older.
What to Do After You File?
After you file your claim for disability benefits, you don’t need to do anything other than wait for an answer. Once your claim is filed and it is received by the VA, they will review the initial claim and then begin gathering evidence. The VA will request evidence from you, health care providers, governmental agencies, and anyone or anywhere else that would have relevant information for your claim. The VA will then review your claim and make a decision.
The time it takes to receive an answer depends on the type of claim you filed, the number of injuries you are attempting to claim, the complexity of your injuries or disabilities, and how long it takes the VA to gather all necessary evidence. The average wait time for an answer from the VA regarding disability benefits is 125 days. In the meantime, you are able to check the status of your claim online.
Can You Appeal the Decision?
If your claim is denied and you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal the decision made by the VA. You have three options when appealing: supplemental claim, higher-level review, or board appeal.
If you wish to file a supplemental claim appeal, you must be able to provide additional evidence that was not initially reviewed by the VA. This can be done at any time, but the VA recommends that this be done within one year of their decision. The average length of time it takes for the VA to make a decision after a supplemental claim is between four and five months.
If you wish to have a higher-level review, you have one year from the date of your decision letter to request this. A higher-level review is an informal conference with a senior reviewer. They will call you to discuss the claim, and you or your lawyer can share why you believe they came to the wrong decision and why it should be changed. You can highlight what errors you believe they made. This is your chance to change their mind, so make sure you have specific points to address. You are not permitted to submit new evidence here. After a higher-level review, it usually takes between four and five months for a decision to be made.
A board appeal can be requested after a denial of an original claim, or after the denial of a supplemental or higher-level review claim. You must request this type of appeal within 1 year from the date of your decision letter. If you decide to take this route, you have three options: request a direct review, submit more evidence, or request a hearing. With a direct review, a Veterans Law Judge will review your appeal based on the evidence already submitted; you cannot submit any new evidence and you will not be permitted to have a hearing.
If you choose to submit more evidence, a Veterans Law Judge will review the new evidence. The evidence must be submitted within 90 days of the date that you requested a board appeal.
If you choose to request a hearing, you will have a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge. You can submit new evidence, and it can be done before or during the hearing.
If you need to file an appeal and haven’t worked with a lawyer, this is the time to speak with one. If your appeal is denied, this could be the end of the road and you may end up receiving no benefits at all.
How Does the VA Determine How Much I Receive in Disability Benefits?
When you are applying for disability benefits, the VA will give you a disability rating, which is based on the severity of your injury, illness, or disability. This is how they determine how much compensation you are entitled to.
What Other Veterans Benefits Are There Besides Disability Benefits?
Common benefits for veterans include the following:
- VA Health Care. Veterans receive health care through the VA; a disability is not required for this benefit.
- Disabled Veteran Property Tax Deduction. In Indiana, veterans who were honorably discharged can utilize property tax deductions, decreasing their property tax bill. For example, if you’re a wartime veteran with at least a 10 percent VA disability, a deduction of almost $25,000 is available.
- Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF). Veterans can utilize this grant to help them with housing, food, utilities, medical services and expenses, transportation, and other essential support expenses that have become too much to afford. A grant of up to $2,500 may be awarded to the veteran and their family.
How Much Does a Veterans Lawyer Cost?
Most Evansville, IN veterans benefits lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means the lawyer will be paid out of the monetary benefit the attorney successfully obtains for the veteran, usually in the amount of between 20 and 30 percent. If a lawyer charges 20 percent or less, the VA will withhold all attorney’s fees and pay the lawyer directly. If the attorney wants to charge more than 20 percent, the lawyer must collect the fee directly from the veteran.
Contact Morgan & Morgan for Assistance
When veterans are returning home with injuries, they deserve to be treated well and to be offered the help they need. While there are benefits available, filing a successful claim can often be more complicated than it should be. The VA will deny claims if details are overlooked, or instructions are not followed correctly. To avoid this, it’s wise to have an experienced Evansville, IN veterans benefits lawyer helping you from the very beginning so you can access your benefits as soon as possible. With the help of qualified attorneys, thousands of veterans are able to receive the benefits they are entitled to each and every year.
Our team of attorneys has been helping veterans for decades, and we want to make sure you receive everything you’re entitled to. If you've been injured while serving our country, we will fight for your rights and make sure your voice is heard. Contact Morgan & Morgan today to schedule a free consultation.