WE ARE OPEN AND SERVING VETERANS DURING THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY

There is an automatic 50% rating for PTSD – but it’s not for everyone, and it’s not permanent. Policy 38 CFR 4.129 states:

“When a mental disorder that develops in service as a result of a highly stressful event is severe enough to bring about the veteran’s release from active military service, the rating agency shall assign an evaluation of not less than 50% and schedule an examination within the six-month period following the veteran’s discharge to determine whether a change in evaluation is warranted” (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 1155).

Simply stated, if you are discharged from duty, specifically because PTSD from a known service-related event has made it difficult for you to function at full capacity, you will automatically receive at least a 50% rating for up to 6 months, without further evidence required. However, before the 6 months expire, the veteran will need to be evaluated by a medical professional who is qualified to make a diagnosis of PTSD and rate the level of social and occupational impairment. Though social impairment is a factor, the main criterion for the VA is occupational impairment: how well can you work and support yourself.

Filing with the VA for veterans’ disability benefits is usually a time-consuming process. Sometimes years can go by from the time of initial filing to when your case is settled. It may include requests for additional information, denial of benefits, appeals, and another review before you are granted a disability rating. Because the process can be quite cumbersome, time-consuming, and stressful, especially for a person struggling with a disability, veterans get the best and fastest resolution of their claims with the help of an experienced VA attorney.

Once you’re granted disability, you will begin to receive monthly installments. But what about all the time you waited? Fortunately, the award is retroactive and you will receive a lump sum of benefits when your benefits are awarded. This back pay is dated from the time of your original filing. For example, if you received a disability rating of 50% three years after you initially filed your claim, you will receive a lump sum of three years worth of disability payments at a 50% level. 

Exceptions to the Filing Start Date

The surviving spouse of a service member who dies in the line of duty or who died from a service-related injury or illness may be able to receive VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC). Those who are at or below a certain income and net worth limit may also be eligible for the VA Survivors Pension. 

However, the VA does not permit attorneys, financial planners, or any other person to charge a fee for any services provided in helping a military widow apply for compensation. The VA warns survivors of veterans to avoid organizations that misrepresent themselves in order to provide financial products and services, and warns that “these organizations may charge substantial fees for products and services that may not always be in claimants’ best long-term interests.” (va.gov

At Robert B. Goss, we’re disabled veterans and family members of servicemen, so it’s important to us to protect survivors of veterans from dishonest practices. Below are the situations in which a widow or widower can apply for these benefits.

The Veterans Administration (VA) allows veterans to hire an attorney to help them with their disability claims only after an initial claim has been denied, or after the VA has offered a benefits award that the veteran does not believe is sufficient. So whether you have been denied or you have received an award that you feel is too low, you are permitted to reach out to a lawyer for help. 

Why Should You Hire an Attorney to Help You With Your Disability Appeal?

If you are already fully versed in legal affairs, as I was when I appealed my own disability award, you may not need help from a lawyer. However, even for me, the process was long, grueling, and stressful. The good news is that retaining an experienced VA lawyer not only saves you that stress, but also improves your chance of success. 

If you are experiencing back pain due to your military service, you can receive VA benefits, as long as you fulfill the necessary requirements. In order to receive any kind of benefits, you must demonstrate that you are a former member of the U.S. military with an honorable discharge, that you have a current medical condition caused by your military service, and that you have medical evidence connecting your condition to the in-service event, injury, or illness.

 Back pain and its causes

Back pain presents itself in many ways. You could be experiencing dull, aching pain or shooting pain; burning or stabbing pain; cramps or spasms; or numbness and weakness. The pain may even extend down your limbs. In addition, you may experience flare-ups that increase the severity for a time. 

Cancer can strike at any time, but it usually does not become active for years after the cause. Many veterans do not automatically make the connection between their time of service and their cancer diagnosis. But there are many exposures during military service that are presumed to cause cancer and others that can be proven to be either a direct cause or a secondary cause of cancer. If your service to our country caused cancer, you deserve compensation while you fight to defeat this enemy.

Proving Service Connection for Cancer

As with all disability claims, you must be able to demonstrate that you are a veteran of the U.S. military, that you have an honorable discharge, and that there is a connection to military service: a direct connection, an aggravation of an existing condition, a secondary connection, or a presumptive connection. 

Many of the most common ratable conditions that receive VA compensation occur regardless of the branch of the military in which you served – which is why they’re the most common. However, some conditions are seen more often in some branches than in others.                                 

Below is a list of the most common disabilities rated by the VA:

  • Tinnitus, hearing deterioration, or loss

Eye problems are a common result of military service. As of 2018, over 250,000 veterans were receiving some degree of disability compensation. Eye conditions could be caused by injuries, exposure of some kind, illnesses, diseases, or complications from medication for service-related medical conditions. Many eye problems are secondary conditions or are related to injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In fact, 75% of veterans with TBI experience visual problems and may not know they are connected to their service-related injury. 

The VA offers veterans more than just compensation for eye problems. Eligible veterans may also receive eyeglasses, eye care, and necessary medical interventions. 

Conditions that May Cause Eye Problems

In order to receive disability compensation from the VA, you will need to demonstrate that you were honorably discharged from the U.S. military and that you have a condition that is connected to your military service: a direct connection, an aggravated connection, a secondary connection, or a presumptive connection. 

In order to prove you have a disability, you will need medical records supporting your claim. There are other records that you may need, but actual medical evidence is critical. Medical documentation can demonstrate your actual medical condition and paint a picture of the symptoms and the severity of your disability. 

Collecting your Medical Records

The 100% disability rating is the highest level of disability the VA offers, providing monthly payments along with full medical care for service-related conditions. Other benefits and compensation are also available. This rating can be reached in a number of ways. 

Severe conditions

If you have an extremely severe service-connected condition that makes you unable to work and, in some cases, unable to provide yourself with personal care without help, this condition may be rated as 100% disabled. 

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