The Claim Process

May 18,2010
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Veterans disability benefits are generally available for veterans who became disabled as a result of impairments sustained or made worse while on duty. In order to award benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must find that an applicant: was honorably discharged; suffered a service connected disability – or had a condition made worse while on duty; and continues to suffer from the disability; based on competent medical and other evidence

The disability benefits claim process can be complicated and confusing. An experienced veterans disability benefits lawyer can provide vital assistance to a person seeking benefits by guiding the claimant through the process from the initial denial and appeal to award, and beyond.

Filing a Disability Benefits Claim

The VA disability benefits claims process starts with the application, or the filing of the claim. A person seeking benefits must complete a claim form (VA 21-526) and submit it to the VA for review either online or by mail.

Supporting Documentation

At minimum, the claims package should also include copies of discharge papers, medical records, and dependency documents, such as a marriage license and/or birth certificates for your children

Discharge/Separation paperwork is necessary to show that you’ve been honorably discharged from military service. This includes service members otherwise discharged under honorable circumstances. A person dishonorably discharged must appeal the determination before seeking VA disability benefits.

Medical records are central to a successful claim. The information contained in them should clearly explain the nature and extent of your injury or impairment as well as any treatment you’ve received. The records should also describe the effect of the impairment on your day-to-day activities and ability to work.

The VA also requires dependency records to show whether you are married and/or have children. An applicant with a spouse and dependent children is eligible for more benefits than one who is single.

VA Disability Benefits Claim Legal Assistance

After an application is denied, or the veteran is dissatisfied with the impairment rating or effective date of the disability, an experienced veterans disability benefits attorney can help you bolster your claim by compiling evidence showing the extent of your illness or injury, its relationship to your military service, and the limits it imposes on your ability to work. This may include statements from witnesses like colleagues, family members, and fellow military professionals with whom you served.

While the VA is supposed to make reasonable efforts to obtain relevant records and documents, claimants are well advised to obtain this evidence through their own efforts in order to ensure that it is in front of the agency at the time of review. The VA is often overworked and understaffed. The agency receives thousands of claims each year; don’t assume that it will obtain the information necessary to document your claim.

VA Disability Claim Appeals

The VA initially denies scores of claims, including many filed by veterans who are eligible and should be approved to receive benefits. In other cases the veteran may disagree with the percentage of impairment found, the effective date or other aspects of the various claims that have been made. In the event that your claim is initially denied, you have the right to file an appeal. It is at that point that the veteran should obtain representation form an attorney, even if they had the assistance of a VSO (Veteran’s Service Organization) in preparing the initial application.

At Hermann Law Group, PLLC, our veterans disability benefits lawyers serve clients throughout New York as well as in Connecticut and New Jersey. With more than 50 years of combined experience, we understand what the VA is looking for in a disability claim, and we can help you present your claim in the most clear and convincing light. We are happy to discuss your particular case in an initial consultation. Call us at 877-644-9710 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.