Do you need legal assistance in seeking service-connected disability compensation? Your inquiry is welcome, and I will help guide you through the process, which can be long and difficult. There is much misinformation about VA compensation.
Here is some basic information you need to know:
To be a “veteran” you must have served a period of active duty in military service or a period of “active duty for training”.
Except in cases of military sexual trauma, you must have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.
Your injury or condition must not be the direct result of willful misconduct; however, alcoholism or drug abuse may be service-connected if the result of other service-connected disability (for example, PTSD).
Your injury or condition must have occurred or originated while “in line of duty”. This does NOT mean that your injury or condition must have been caused by the performance of military duties. All that is required is that your injury or condition occurred while you were in a period of active duty. Active duty begins with your enlistment and ends with your discharge.
You must have a current disability attributable to injury or disease incurred during a period of active service. This means that you must have a condition that is NOW causing you some degree of disability.
The disabling condition must not be a condition that existed prior to your entry into service unless the condition was aggravated by military service.
Service Connection for a Current Disability May Be Established in Several Ways:
Direct service connection for non-chronic diseases (a gunshot wound that causes permanent muscle damage).
Chronic diseases first diagnosed in service or during a presumptive period following service.
Conditions that pre-existed military service that were aggravated by military service.
Conditions that are secondary to other service-connected disabilities (for example, a diabetic condition that causes heart disease or blindness).
Conditions that are presumed to be service-connected (for example, conditions arising from Agent Orange).
Conditions resulting from improper medical care by the VA.
The burden of proof simply requires that you establish that it is “as likely as not” that the condition arose out of military service.
Many claims are denied due to lack of records corroborating a claim. Some military records have been destroyed or lost. During period of war there may be no records of where you served. The VA will accept any reasonable evidence that serves to support your claim; however, the VA simply will not “take your word for it” because you swear an oath.
Need Help With Your VA Disability Claims?
Trying to navigate a VA disability claim without the assistance of counsel can be daunting. Good claims can be lost by not being aware of the ins and outs of VA law. Most cases can be accepted under a contingent fee contract providing an attorney’s fee based on 20% of all retroactive benefits awarded. If you are not sure you have a claim or need assistance with a pending claim, GET HELP!
Frequently Asked Questions
You must be a veteran with a discharge other than dishonorable. You must have a currently diagnosed condition that can be related to military service. The condition does not have to have been caused by military duties. You only have to show that the condition occurred during a period of military service.
You can apply yourself through the VA website or you may seek assistance from any of several veterans service organizations (VFW, American Legion, etc.) or you may contact an attorney authorized to practice before the VA.
Educational benefits are available for spouses and children of totally disabled veterans. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is available for surviving spouses and children of veterans found disabled prior to the veteran's death. There are other benefits for family members as well.
You will benefit from expert advice about whether you are likely to be able to prove that you are disabled under VA law and regulations. You will benefit from assistance throughout the claims process.
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Navigating the bureaucracy of any disability program is complex and frustrating and often ends in denial.
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