Serving in the U.S. military is a courageous act that can be highly rewarding but also very dangerous. Many veterans are injured while serving, which can lead to lifelong disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to work and provide a living for you and your family.
In these situations, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides the opportunity to receive disability benefits. However, how these benefits are given is often challenging to understand. There are different types of disability benefits, disability ratings, and more forms than you can count.
We encourage any veteran struggling to understand their options to get in touch with an experienced veterans’ disability lawyer at the Karl Truman Law Office. Our founder and principal attorney, Karl Truman, retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel after nearly 30 years of service. We consider it our duty to help our nation’s heroes obtain access to the benefits they deserve.
In this article, we take a look at what veterans should know about receiving VA disability, including eligibility requirements, how to prove that your disability is service-related, and how to understand disability ratings.
To qualify for VA disability benefits, you must be a veteran who served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and must have an injury related to your service.
This includes an injury or illness that occurred while you were serving or the worsening of a preexisting condition caused by your service. It also includes disabilities that were caused by your military service but not discovered until after your service concluded.
You must also have a disability rating, which we will discuss below.
If you received a bad conduct, dishonorable, or other than honorable discharge, you may not be eligible for benefits. However, you may be able to still receive benefits with a discharge upgrade.
Any debilitating injury can qualify for benefits. This includes physical disabilities such as:
Psychological conditions also qualify, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Unfortunately, too many veterans don’t consider these conditions disabilities, even as they struggle to maintain meaningful employment and live an active, social life.
Proving a disability claim starts with medical documentation, including doctor’s reports, X-rays, and test results, along with proof of military service through a DD214 form.
However, the evidence you need to file a claim depends on the type of injury or illness you are suffering from. For example, if you are filing a claim for PTSD, you need to submit an additional form, though which form you submit depends on the cause of your PTSD.
Beyond medical documentation and forms, you may also submit letters from family, friends, and those you served alongside you who can help explain your situation.
The VA assigns a disability rating to every service-connected condition they process. This rating ranges from 10% to 100% and is meant to express how severe your disability is in terms of how much it affects your ability to function and work.
This number directly affects how much you will receive in disability compensation on a monthly basis; however, it is a complex calculation, especially if you are suffering from multiple conditions or already have a preexisting condition that was made worse by your time in the military.
Yes, you can absolutely appeal your disability rating – and you should if you do not agree with it. You have one year from the date of the original decision to file an appeal.
Keep in mind, however, that the appeals process takes time. According to the VA, it generally takes 12-18 months to make a decision on an appeal. This is on top of the time it takes to make a decision about your initial claim (currently, the average for these decisions is 153 days).
That said, if the appeal decision is made in your favor, you should be able to receive retroactive payments for the benefits you didn’t receive while waiting on a decision.
At the Karl Truman Law Office, we have a great deal of compassion for veterans injured in the service. Our founder and principal attorney, Karl Truman, was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve for nearly 30 years and has since become a VA-accredited attorney. He understands the challenges that veterans face, and he is passionate about helping them fight the VA to receive the benefits they deserve.
While we wish that all disabled veterans would be able to easily receive the disability compensation they need, this unfortunately is not the case. Claims are often denied and veterans are given disability ratings that do not fairly or accurately represent their conditions.
We are here to help. Whether you are trying to understand what disability benefits you may qualify for, what to do after being denied benefits, or how to appeal a low disability rating, our experience and knowledge are at your service.
The veterans’ disability attorneys at the Karl Truman Law Office have represented clients throughout Kentucky and Indiana for more than 25 years. We understand the challenges you may be facing, and we are dedicated to helping you obtain the benefits you deserve.
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Contact the Karl Truman Law Office today to discuss your case for free. You can reach our office in Louisville, Kentucky, at (502) 222-2222 or in Jeffersonville, Indiana, at (812) 282-8500.