The Veterans Administration (VA) and now the modern Department of Veterans Affairs originally came into existence following the Civil War, when the need arose for an entity that could administer pensions and disability payments, as well as provide medical care for veterans of the military.
Unfortunately, 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. More than 40,000 live in Escambia County alone, according to the VA.
At Morgan & Morgan, we hate to see the needs of our veterans ignored, and have attorneys on staff to help them cut through the seemingly insurmountable red tape that surrounds veterans’ benefits. We are just one of a handful of law firms practicing in this challenging area of law and are proud to assist Pensacola veterans in obtaining compensation for their service-connected injuries, disabilities, and diseases.
Contact us today to learn more about how one of our veterans’ benefits attorneys may be able to help.
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 — like veterans’ disability benefits — requires the veteran to meet a number of complex criteria and to show:
- That they suffer from a fully or partially disabling disease or condition.
- That condition is “service-connected” – in other words, that it was caused by something they experienced in military service.
If a soldier is badly injured in the line of duty, establishing this connection is usually not difficult. However, veterans who develop conditions later in life — like those associated with chemical or radiation exposure, or 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 veterans’ benefits lawyer in Pensacola may be able to help.
The Veterans’ Benefits Rating and Appeal Process
In Pensacola, 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 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. Further appeals can make their way up the federal court system all the way to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary.
Florida Veterans with Disabilities Deserve Experienced Representation
Unfortunately, Pensacola 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.
Morgan & Morgan veterans’ benefits attorneys understand the operating procedures of the DVA, the Board of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. They can help you understand your situation and advise you on how to proceed.
We have helped numerous Florida veterans navigate the disability claims and appeals process successfully. Reach out to us for a free, no-risk case evaluation to have your situation evaluated and find out if one of our attorneys may be able to help.