Memorial Day brings back a lot of memories to me of serving overseas and in a combat zone. Friday meant just two more workdays until Monday. For me, as an aircraft commander or Mission Director, even time in the tent meant I was thinking about the upcoming operations or missions ahead. I was constantly thinking and preparing to achieve the mission objectives.
The objective of VA benefits is to help you to compensate for any service-connected disabilities that limit your earnings.
I can state you need to take charge of helping yourself receive your disability payments or Vocational Rehabilitation to achieve your post-military objectives. You need to act to receive VA service-connected disability payments or help.
For a VA benefit that you earned to be awarded to you, the VA first has to know about you. You must apply for VA benefits through a “526” at your VA regional office. Each day you prolong is a day the VA does not know you have a disability. This is a day you will never be paid for your service-connected disability.
My advice to you is immediately upon separation or retirement, apply for your VA benefits. Do not wait. The date you apply, establishes your “effective date.” Think of this date as analogous to your enlistment date, this is the date that the Department of Veterans Affairs will use to calculate the monies owed to you once your Disability rating is established.
I understand, you may want nothing to do with the military or VA, but the VA folks are not mind readers, they cannot know you have a claim until you file. The law prevents them from granting you an effective date, you thought about filing — you must apply for your benefits.
Next, within the FIRST year of separation or retirement any disabilities noted and claimed to the VA are considered to be within the presumptive period indicating this is a service-connected disability. Again ANOTHER REASON TO FILE SOON.
As our previous blogs have pointed out you need 3 things to receive a service-connected disability, the first of which is a disability in service, followed by a current disability, and finally a connection or nexus between these 2 disabilities.
Trying to “tough it out” and not let the VA know until 20 or 30 years later allows the VA to search for other alternatives to your disability. You may very well have a current disability, but the VA may use an intervening event (your involvement in a car crash) as the actual cause of the disability. Therefore there is not a connection between your in-service disability and the present disability. Plus, you lose all those years where you could be paid for your service-connected disability.
That is why timely filing establishes the fact that you have an in-service disability. Therefore, just as you were vigilant while in service to accomplish the unit’s mission, you need to be proactive with your objective of receiving a service-connected VA disability claims, and file today.
Happy Memorial Day — Thank you for your service to our country.