As a disabled veteran, you may be entitled to VA disability benefits. However, there are an array of benefits and resources that you may be eligible for. Determining the type of claim you should file can be confusing. In order to clarify things for you, we’ve compiled an overview of some of the common types of VA disability claims below. For additional information, please contact our Michigan veterans benefits attorneys.
As a veteran who has a service-related injury or condition, you will want to file a claim for service-connection; your first disability claim filed is termed an ‘original claim.’ You can file an original claim up to 180 days before you leave service. If you have between 180 and 190 days left on active duty, you may be able to file a pre-discharge claim, which may help you obtain your benefits sooner. However, if you have less than 90 days left on active duty, you can’t file a pre-discharge claim. You may, however, still file a claim before you’re discharged, and it will be processed after separation. In addition, you can file a claim for an issue that emerges after discharge. This is called a post-service or new claim. There’s no time limit for filing such a claim.
Supplemental Claim for an Increased Rating
As a disabled veteran, you may also file a claim for increased disability compensation if your service-connected disability has gotten worse since your initial claim. In order to qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
- Your disability claim was denied,
- You never filed an appeal, and
- You have new evidence that is directly related to your claim.
First, you will want to review the rating criteria to see what rating category your condition meets. Generally speaking, you will need to prove that your condition has worsened to merit the increased rating you believe you deserve, such as by showing evidence of additional symptoms, or a decline in your condition overall. A Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) may be completed by your doctor to help support the fact that you meet the increased rating you are seeking. Regardless, it is advisable that you submit any supportive new evidence you would like considered along with this claim for an increased rating at the same time. An experienced attorney can help you better understand how to qualify for an increase.
If you are already receiving service-connected disability benefits, you may also file a new claim to request additional financial support, special monthly compensation payments, or a change to employment status (called an application for Total Disability Individual Unemployability), which is assigned if you can’t work due to your disability. In the case of the latter, disabled veterans may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits as well as Unemployability benefits through the VA. Finally, if you have special needs related to your disability, you can file a special claim to request compensation for your needs. For example, some service-connected disabilities may require you to obtain a specially equipped vehicle or additional supports that can help.
Secondary Service-Connected Claim
If you have a new condition that’s linked to a service-connected disability that you already have, you can file a secondary service-connected claim. This is used for cases in which an existing disability already considered service-connected leads to a new medical problem, such as when arthritis in the left knee develops from overuse caused by an existing service-connected right knee injury, or if you develop a condition related to your upper or cervical spine from your service-connected lower or thoracolumbar spine. Moreover, veterans have commonly developed sleep apnea secondary to their service-connected neck condition or from their PTSD and resulting problems sleeping, among others. A skilled attorney certified to handle veterans disability claims can assist you by reviewing all of your records to help strategize any and all benefits you may be eligible for.
Contact a Michigan Veterans Benefits Attorney
As you can see, there are several types of VA disability claims and benefits available. While it can be difficult to determine which kind of claim to file for, know that you do not have to go at the process alone. With the assistance of a veterans benefits attorney, you’ll be able to understand which claim(s) you may be eligible for, and any required supporting documentation that you may be able to submit. At Disability Law Group, disability is all we do. Our attorneys will carefully review your evidence and design a roadmap for you so that you are in the best position to receive the benefits you deserve. Please contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.