Posted byBerry LawonFebruary 10, 2021inVA News
You May Be Receiving Benefits From the VA That Are Too Low.
If you are a Veteran with a long-term disability, you can receive benefits from the VA. Benefits issued by the VA can vary, but all levels of disability compensation are tax-free and can help you support yourself and your family. The VA gives benefits to disabled Veterans based on each Veteran’s disability rating, which is connected to the severity of your service-related disability or to a combination of multiple disabilities.
The more your service-related disability impacts your life, the higher your rating from the VA will be. However, sometimes the VA’s disability rating does not accurately reflect how severe your condition is. In addition, the symptoms of your service-related disability may get worse over time, making it harder for you to do your job and go about daily tasks as you normally would. If your symptoms worsen, you may be eligible to receive a reevaluated disability rating from the VA. This higher rating means greater benefits, which can help you support yourself and your family if you cannot work due to your disability.
Disability ratings from the VA are not always accurate. Many Veterans receive benefits from the VA that are less than they deserve because the VA gave them a rating that is too low. If that sounds like your situation, we’re here to help. We are a team of Veterans who are passionate about helping our fellow Veterans get the support they deserve from the VA. In this post, we’ll walk through some of the key steps you can take to raise your disability rating.
What Qualifies a Veteran for Benefits From the VA?
If you are a Veteran, you can receive disability benefits from the VA as compensation for any of many service-related conditions. The VA offers disability benefits to Veterans struggling with physical and mental disabilities that directly relate to their time serving in the military.
The VA is willing to give benefits to a Veteran who is suffering from any of the following conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a mental health issue that often results from traumatic experiences on the frontlines. PTSD can cause nightmares, flashbacks, depression, avoidant behavior, and other symptoms that can make it tough for a Veteran to work and live normally.
Because PTSD is a mental health issue and does not have explicit physical symptoms, the condition is often inaccurately assessed by the VA. If you have PTSD and believe your disability rating is too low, you can make an appeal and dispute the VA’s assessment of your condition.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A TBI is a form of brain trauma that ranges in severity from concussions to injuries sustained from projectiles and explosions causing penetration of the brain. A TBI can leave a person’s personality significantly changed, as well as causing a host of other debilitating symptoms, including dizziness, memory loss, nightmares, depression, and more. A TBI is a type of injury that can make a Veteran eligible for a 100% disability rating, especially since the condition often makes a Veteran unemployable.
- Gulf War Syndrome: This is an umbrella term for a range of symptoms experienced by many Gulf War Veterans. Symptoms attributed to Gulf War Syndrome include fatigue, depression, trouble breathing, memory problems, and more.
- Military Sexual Trauma: If you have been a victim of sexual assault or abuse during your time in the military, the VA can offer you disability benefits. Recovering from sexual trauma is often a years-long process. Sexual assault or abuse can leave a person extremely traumatized, with frequent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms due to sexual abuse.
- Agent Orange Exposure: A toxic herbicide sprayed in large quantities during the Vietnam War, Agent Orange has caused long-term health problems for many Vietnam vets. Agent Orange exposure is connected to multiple forms of cancer, as well as Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and more.
- Water Contamination: Veterans suffering from the effects of water contamination from Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune may be eligible to receive significant disability benefits from the VA. The contaminated water from Camp Lejeune has been linked to multiple diseases, including cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep problems including insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and daytime drowsiness are all common conditions among Veterans. Sleep disorders can qualify a Veteran for disability benefits when they are directly connected to a Veteran’s service in the military.
- Back injuries: If you sustained an injury to your back during your time in the military, you may be eligible to receive significant compensation from the VA. The VA can give you a 100% disability rating due to a back injury in some cases, especially if your injury makes you ineligible for employment. If you qualify for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) due to a back injury, your chances of getting full compensation from the VA may be much higher.
- Other mental health issues: In addition to PTSD, you can also receive compensation from the VA due to other service-related mental health issues like depression or anxiety. These types of disabilities are often harder for the VA to accurately assess and rate.
For this reason, you may need to appeal the VA’s decision, disputing your disability rating for a service-related mental health issue like depression or bipolar disorder. You can also request a reevaluation from an independent doctor to make a case to the VA that your rating should be raised.
How to Maintain Your Disability Rating
Your disability rating from the VA can be subject to change over time, especially if the symptoms of your condition worsen. The VA sometimes decreases a Veteran’s disability rating, especially when anticipating that a Veteran will experience a full recovery over time. Because the VA’s disability ratings can change, you can lose some of your benefits simply because the VA expects your condition to improve.
One of the most important steps to take to maintain your disability rating from the VA is to continue any treatment for your disability. Make sure to stay consistent with your routine checkups and appointments. That way, the VA will be aware that you are continuing to seek and receive treatment for your disability.
If the VA decreases your disability rating, but your condition has not improved, you may need to make an appeal with the help of an attorney. Even if you are not able to raise your disability score, an experienced attorney can help keep your rating from going down. If you can make a case to the VA that you are still significantly affected by your service-related disability, you can at least keep the benefits you are receiving and continue getting the support you need.
How to Increase Your Disability Rating
If you have received only an 40% disability rating from the VA but have a condition that is significantly affecting your life, you may be able to get your rating reevaluated and raised as high as 100%.
One factor that can cause your rating to increase is if your symptoms worsen over time. If you are struggling to do your job and keep up with everyday life due to your service-related disability, you may be able to make a much stronger case to the VA that your rating should be increased. In some circumstances, your condition may make it impossible for you to work. In this case, you may be able to qualify for total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU).
If your condition has made you unable to work, a 100% disability rating from the VA may be what you need to keep supporting yourself and your family. One of our attorneys can help you demonstrate to the VA that you need additional support due to your condition’s debilitating nature. You can also increase your rating if you are suffering from multiple service-related disabilities at once.
Making an appeal to the VA can be a long and challenging process. Without the help of an attorney, the VA appeals process can be both frustrating and confusing. That’s why we want to give every disabled Veteran the help and resources they need to successfully make a strong case to the VA that they deserve to have their ratings raised.
With the help of an attorney, you can successfully navigate the complex rules and regulations put in place by the VA. While the VA can often make it difficult for Veterans to navigate the appeals process, Berry Law Firm’s compassionate and experienced attorneys have the knowledge to help you make the regulations work to your benefit instead of against you.