Part of the veterans disability claims process is filing a claim with your Regional Office. After a lengthy processing period that averaged 127 days back in 2006 and has only gotten worse, the VA will make a decision on your claim by examining three main issues: whether or not your disability was connected to your service, your percentage of disability, and the effective date of eligibility. If you are denied veterans benefits based on any of these issues, don’t worry – you can appeal. But first it’s important to understand what the issues entail so that you go into your appeal armed and ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Veterans Disability Claims Process: The Three Elements
Connection of your disability to your service. Simply put, if the VA determines that your disability did not result from an incident that occurred during your service, you will be denied veterans benefits. They won’t even bother to even look into the other two elements if they find your disability isn’t connected. To prove a connection, you have to point to a specific incident during your service that caused your current disability, show that you had no preexisting condition that could have caused it (or that your preexisting condition was aggravated during your service), and demonstrate a “nexus” – that your current problems are definitely related to that original incident suffered during your service.
Percentage to which you are disabled. Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations outlines a set of Diagnostic Codes with which to determine a person’s level of disability. These codes describe various disabilities and assign percentages to them based on the severity of each condition. A rating officer compares the medical description of the Vet’s disability to the diagnostic code in the CFRs that most closely matches it to calculate the percentage to which the Vet is disabled. A 0% finding still means that the VA admitted the disability is service connected, so the Vet can then appeal the percentage.
Your effective date. This is the retroactive date from which the VA has to pay you benefits. Most often, this ends up being the original date that you filed the claim, but in some cases you might even receive retroactive benefits from the date of your injury. Vets who file claims within a year of being discharged typically receive retroactive benefits from their discharge date, and those who finally win their appeal after years of fighting and receive compensation will be paid back to the original claim. Obviously, a lot of money is involved in this decision, so it’s one of the most important elements involved in the veterans disability claims process.
If you want guidance specific to your situation, if you have been denied disability benefits, or if your claim has been delayed, contact our offices toll-free at 800-562-9830 to get professional legal assistance. Marc Whitehead is dedicated to get you through the Veterans Disability claims process.