Our veterans, time and time again, put their lives on the line in the name of this great nation. They should be able to expect reasonable medical services and disability payments for their sacrifice. All too often, however, the brave men and women who defend our country aren’t given the care they deserve when they return home from their service.
The Department of Veterans Affairs sometimes delays or denies disability claims because of minor errors on application paperwork or failure to follow the VA’s rules and procedures. At Morgan & Morgan, we employ attorneys with considerable experience helping veterans and their families receive the benefits they so sorely need.
We are one of only a handful of firms practicing in this challenging area of law and are proud to assist Philadelphia area veterans in obtaining compensation for their service-connected injuries, disabilities, and diseases. Contact us today by completing a free case review form to learn more about how our veterans’ benefits attorneys may be able to help.
Qualifying For Benefits
Qualifying for benefits with the VA is not easy. The extent to which you are disabled is quantified by the VA- a veteran must be at least 10% disabled to qualify. A veteran may also qualify for VA benefits for post-service disabilities that are related to disabilities that occurred during service. If a veteran has dependents, an additional allowance may be added if his or her combined disability is rated 30 percent or greater.
According to the VA, you’ll also need medical evidence of a current disability, as well as evidence that relates your disability to an injury or event that occurred during your service. Our Philadelphia 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
- Hearing Loss
- 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 VA maintains a list of specific classes of veterans with certain conditions whom it presumes to be disabled and therefore automatically eligible for disability benefits. Veterans who may automatically qualify for benefits include:
- Former prisoners of war
- Veterans who have certain chronic or tropical diseases that become evident within a specified period of time after discharge from service
- Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange
The VA Appeals Process
With such a specific set of rules to qualify for benefits, many veterans are turned down, but they can appeal. That appeals process, however, can be complicated, frustrating, and time-consuming in a period where you desperately need benefits. That process can include:
Review by the Local VA Office: Your attorney may file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA regional office if your claim has been denied by your VA office. The Notice of Disagreement must be submitted within one year of the date that your VA office mailed its original decision denying your claim.
Notice of Disagreement: After your VA office receives the Notice of Disagreement, it will create a Statement of the Case. The Statement of the Case is a detailed explanation of the evidence, laws, and regulations that were used by the VA in deciding your claim and the evidence contained in the Statement of the Case.
Claim Review: As part of the review process, a decision review officer at your VA office will review your claim. Your attorney may also request that a personal hearing be conducted. A personal hearing is an informal hearing presided over by the decision review officer who will review your claim. Your veterans’ attorney will evaluate your case to determine if a personal hearing should be requested in your case.
File an Appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals: If your claim remains denied after the review by the VA, your attorney may file an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. As part of the appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, you have the right to a personal hearing. The personal hearing may be one of three types:
- A hearing in Washington, D.C., where the Board of Veterans’ Appeals is located.
- A video-conference hearing with your local VA office and the board member in Washington, D.C.
- A hearing at your local VA office with the board member present.
File an Appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: The final step in the veterans’ appeal process is filing a lawsuit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. If you claim has been improperly denied by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, your attorney may file a Notice of Appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Your attorney will prepare a legal brief detailing why you are entitled to veterans’ benefits and may present an oral argument to the judge in your case.
How Can a Veterans’ Benefits Attorney Help?
In many cases, the most challenging aspect of a veterans’ disability claim is proving that a veteran’s disability is connected to his or her military service. It is often the case that the disabling condition is not discovered until many years after the veteran’s military service has ended.
To help prove that the medical condition is linked to military service, your veterans’ disability attorney may work with medical experts to establish a service connection between a veteran’s disability and their military service. Often times, the VA initially denies claims because of administrative errors or the failure to supply sufficient medical evidence regarding the disabling medical condition.
Morgan & Morgan’s veterans’ benefits attorneys understand how these claims work, and why so many of them are denied. Our ability to help walk you through the claims and appeals process can be an immense help to someone who is hurting from their disability and feels as though they are forced to go through this alone. In addition to the general support we can lend, we also know how time sensitive these cases can be. Your attorney can prepare your appeal in compliance with all VA rules and regulations so that it moves as quickly as possible.
Contact Morgan & Morgan Today
Veterans deserve the chance to live a good life after everything they’ve given to this country. If you or a loved one is dealing with a VA claim, we may be able to help. Please complete our free case review form to learn how a veterans’ benefits attorney can help you qualify for benefits.