Veteran disability attorney sitting with veteran

Is My VA Disability Rating Permanent?

If you’re a veteran receiving VA disability benefits, you might wonder if the disability rating determining the value of your benefits is permanent. The truth is that most VA disability ratings can change. The VA regularly reviews these ratings to see if a recipient’s condition has improved. This can sometimes result in a reduction of benefits. Therefore, it’s important to understand what factors the VA considers when reviewing your rating and what steps you can take to protect your benefits.

When Can the VA Reevaluate Your Disability?

The VA can reevaluate your disability at any time unless you have had your rating for 20 years. However, there are times that the VA is more likely to review your case. For example, if you’ve had your rating for less than five years, the VA might check to see if your condition has improved. The VA also tends to review cases when evidence suggests a change in your health, such as if you report an improvement in your condition or a routine examination indicates progress.

On the other hand, the VA is less likely to review your disability if you’ve had a static rating for over five years and your condition hasn’t shown signs of significant improvement. Additionally, if your disability is considered permanent and total, the VA typically won’t conduct further reviews.

When Your VA Disability Rating Is Protected from Change

Certain VA disability ratings are protected from reductions, providing veterans with more financial stability. One type of protection is for disabilities rated at the same level for five years or more, often called stabilized ratings. The VA must show sustained improvement over time to reduce these ratings, not just temporary or one-time improvements.

If a veteran has had the same disability rating for ten years, the VA cannot terminate the service connection for that condition, except in cases of fraud. However, it can still reduce the rating if there is evidence of improvement.

Similarly, veterans with the same rating for twenty years or more are also protected. The VA cannot reduce these ratings below their original level (unless there is evidence of fraud).

Finally, if the VA deems a veteran’s disability permanent and total, rating specialists will most likely not schedule further examinations, meaning the veteran should have a permanent rating. This protection helps ensure that veterans with severe, unchanging conditions have long-term financial support.

What Happens at a Revaluation?

During a VA revaluation for a proposed rating reduction, you’ll undergo a new Compensation & Pension (C&P) examination. A doctor will assess your condition to see if it has improved. The doctor should review your medical history and current health status. The goal is to determine if your condition warrants a reduced disability rating. If the VA finds sustained improvement in your ability to function under everyday conditions, it may lower your disability rating.

However, you have the right to appeal this decision. If you disagree with the revaluation results, you can submit new medical evidence or request a hearing. The VA must prove that your condition has significantly improved over time before reducing your benefits.

Disability Law Group Can Help with Your Disability Rating

The Disability Law Group has helped many veterans appeal a reduced VA disability rating to protect their disability benefits. Contact us today if you’ve received a rating reduction and need help fighting for your benefits. Let’s stand up for your rights together.

 

Veteran who suffers from anxiety.

Triumph for Justice: WWII Veteran’s 4-Year Retroactive Benefits Victory

In a recent triumph for justice, Disability Law Group proudly shines a spotlight on Partner Mandy Kelly’s extraordinary success in securing four years of retroactive benefits for a 96-year-old World War II veteran. This heartwarming victory unveils the challenges faced by veterans of that era, particularly the obstacles encountered in obtaining their rightful benefits.

The Case:

The 96-year-old World War II veteran, despite demonstrating valor in his service, encountered difficulties accessing the benefits rightfully owed to him. Veterans from this generation often faced challenges in seeking treatment, resulting in undiagnosed conditions later used against them in benefit claims.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) emerged as a significant factor in this case. Many WWII veterans, lacking proper treatment or diagnosis, found themselves without the necessary evidence to support benefit claims. The VA had denied the veteran’s PTSD claim, citing a lack of medical documentation—a consequence of the veteran’s struggle to access treatment during a time of limited mental health awareness.

Our Attorney’s Dedication:

Partner Mandy Kelly, a fervent advocate for veterans’ rights, accepted the challenge. Recognizing the unjust denial, she went above and beyond to assist the veteran in obtaining a private medical evaluation. This evaluation contradicted the VA’s stance, providing crucial evidence of the veteran’s PTSD that had gone unrecognized for decades.

The Victory:

Mandy Kelly’s unwavering commitment to justice paid off, as Disability Law Group successfully secured four years of retroactive benefits for the 96-year-old veteran. This victory not only acknowledges the veteran’s sacrifices but also establishes a precedent for challenging systemic barriers faced by many World War II veterans in their pursuit of rightful benefits.

Not Just Another Veterans Attorney:

Disability Law Group remains steadfast in advocating for veterans’ rights and individuals facing disability challenges. If you or a loved one struggles to obtain the benefits deserved, do not hesitate to reach out. Our experienced team is here to fight for you. Contact Disability Law Group today at 800-838-1100, and let us be the voice that ensures justice prevails. We are committed to making a difference in the lives of those who have served our country with honor and valor.

Case for veteran's benefits won

Case Spotlight – November 2023

Disability Law Group recently received a decision approving our client’s case for Social Security Disability (‘SSD’) benefits. He is a veteran from Troy, Michigan, currently receiving service-connected VA disability benefits, rated at 100% Permanent & Total. Due to the combination of his service-connected and non-service-connected conditions, he has been unable to work since 2009. However, like many people, he did not know that he could file for SSD benefits, and he was unsure of whether he could be eligible for VA service-connected disability benefits and also other forms of disability benefits at the same time.

He called Disability Law Group and spoke with our team, who answered all of his questions, assuring him that he can be eligible for both his service-connected VA disability benefits as well as SSD payments at the same time, without any offset between the two. However, because he waited so long to file for SSD, he would be limited as to the retroactive SSD benefits he would be entitled to under the law. Additionally, since he had not worked in roughly 15 years, he would be up against a large hurdle in the process: his work credits had expired in March of 2011. This means that in order for him to be eligible for SSD benefits at all, he would need to prove disability all the way back to that timeframe, more than a decade ago. To make matters worse, most medical facilities do not keep medical records back that far.

How a Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help

Thankfully, Disability Law Group is known for taking on tough cases, and our track record for success despite bureaucratic red tape and the hard work required to win. We filed the SSD application on behalf of our client and helped him every step of the way, alleging disability began back in August of 2009, prior to when his work credits expired. Attorney Erika Riggs, partner at Disability Law Group, represented this client and worked with our team to ensure all medical records and supportive evidence were timely obtained and submitted. We prepared his case for a hearing scheduled for October 2023.

Prior to the hearing, Mrs. Riggs prepared a legal brief, outlining her theory for this case and how the combination of her client’s health problems following his discharge from military service should result in a finding of “disability” back to 2009. She carefully summarized the key components of his case, including his deployment to Afghanistan as a reconnaissance team sergeant, sustaining numerous injuries, primarily stemming from an enemy rocket attack which threw him back 15 feet. As a result of his service, and the TBI he sustained overseas, he continues to suffer from migraine headaches, memory loss, concentration problems, sleep problems, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She pointed to the relevant evidence and medical research supporting her client’s symptoms and significant work-related limitations in support.

Ultimately, the Administrative Law Judge (‘ALJ’) agreed and issued a decision in just one week following the hearing! The decision found our client to be disabled as of August of 2009, before his work credits expired in 2011, resulting in more than $30,000.00 of past-due benefits, monthly payments, and immediate entitlement to Medicare. This decision was a major victory for this client in many ways, including the insurance he would now be entitled to that allowed him to see civilian doctors or receive private care, rather than limiting him to treatment at the VA.

Not Just Another Disability Attorney

Whether you have a physical, mental, or cognitive health condition, or a combination of health problems, you do not have to go through the process alone. At Disability Law Group, disability is all we do, and we will fight alongside you to help win every benefit deserved. Our Disability Attorneys are not only experts in the field of disability law, but we are also certified to handle veteran’s disability claims. At Disability Law Group, every client matters.

Family caregiver with man in wheelchair

VA Family Benefits

Are you a family caregiver of a Veteran who has suffered a severe injury in the line of duty? Or are you a Veteran who needs assistance with activities of daily living? If so, you may be eligible for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC).

The PCAFC offers enhanced clinical support for caregivers of eligible Veterans who are seriously injured. The program has undergone some changes based on the new “Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) Improvements and Amendments Under the VA MISSION Act of 2018” Final Rule, RIN 2900-AQ48, which became effective in October 2020. These changes include expanding eligibility for the PCAFC, establishing new benefits for designated Primary Family Caregivers of eligible Veterans, and making other changes affecting program eligibility and the VA’s evaluation of PCAFC applications.

How Can We Qualify?

To qualify for the program, a Veteran must have a serious injury (which now includes serious illness) incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service on or after September 11, 2001, or on or before May 7, 1975. The individual must also be in need of in-person personal care services for a minimum of six continuous months based on an inability to perform an activity of daily living or a need for supervision, protection, or instruction.

The family caregiver must be at least 18 years of age and either the eligible Veteran’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, stepfamily member, extended family member, or someone who lives with the eligible Veteran full-time or will do so if designated as a Family Caregiver. VA must initially assess the caregiver as being able to complete caregiver education and training, complete caregiver training, and demonstrate the ability to carry out the specific personal care services, core competencies, and additional care requirements.

What VA benefits am I eligible for?

As an eligible Primary Family Caregiver, you may qualify for a monthly stipend, which is paid at one of two levels based on the VA’s determination of whether the Veteran is “unable to self-sustain in the community.” If the Veteran meets all seven eligibility requirements and is “unable to self-sustain in the community,” the designated Primary Family Caregiver will receive the higher-level stipend payment. If the Veteran does not meet the “unable to self-sustain in the community” requirement, the caregiver will receive the lower-level stipend payment.

If you or a loved one meets the eligibility requirements for the PCAFC, contact your local Caregiver Support Coordinator by calling the Caregiver Support Line Expanded Hours at 1-855-260-3274 (Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET; Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm ET) toll-free or using the Caregiver Support Coordinator locator tool at www.caregiver.va.gov/support/New_CSC_Page.asp. Online applications will soon be available as well.

As Veterans Benefit Lawyers, We’re Here to Help

At Disability Law Group, navigating the VA system can be overwhelming, especially for those dealing with a serious injury or illness. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to help guide you through the process and ensure you receive the benefits and support you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

PTSD rating for veterans

How to Increase a PTSD Rating to 100%

Over the last few decades, additional attention has been given to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This mental health condition often arises because of trauma that people experience while in military combat. When PTSD affects a veteran’s ability to function normally and work, the veteran may qualify for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The amount of compensation a veteran can receive depends on their disability rating, which is based on the severity of PTSD.

PTSD Service Connection

It is not enough for a veteran to show that they have PTSD. They must first show that the PTSD is related to their military service, called a nexus. For example, the PTSD may result from an explosion blast, sexual assault, or combat. This information should be included in their medical records. Service treatment records may include documentation of the event. In addition to the diagnosis of PTSD and the service connection, these medical records should express that the veteran cannot function as well as they did before because of their PTSD symptoms. The veteran can submit documentation of the severity of their current symptoms.

Determination of Disability Rating

Next, the VA assigns a disability rating to the veteran. Higher ratings mean the condition has a more significant impact on the veteran. Typically, the rating ranges from 0% to 100% in increments of 10%. The rating is based on the following factors:

  • Severity of the symptoms
  • How often the symptoms arise
  • How long the symptoms last
  • Impact of the symptoms on the veteran’s ability to function

Examples of Disability Ratings

While most VA disability ratings are expressed in increments of 10%, PTSD is only rated at the following levels: 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. These ratings mean the following:

  • 0% – The veteran has been diagnosed with PTSD but has no symptoms that interfere with their daily life or ability to work.
  • 10% – The veteran has mild symptoms only during periods of significant stress, or the symptoms are controlled by continuous medication.
  • 30% – The veteran has moderate symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and recurring nightmares that impair the veteran’s work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks.
  • 50% – The veteran’s reliability and productivity are negatively impacted due to symptoms such as panic attacks more than once a week, memory loss, and impaired judgment.
  • 70% – The veteran has deficiencies in most areas of their life, near-continuous panic or depression that affects their ability to independently function, or difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships with others.
  • 100% – The veteran’s condition is so severe that their symptoms cause total occupational and social impairment that renders them unemployable.

Evidence to Increase a PTSD Rating to 100%

If a veteran has been rated below 100% for PTSD and believes their condition has worsened or is entitled to a higher rating, they can file for an increased rating. There are certain requirements the VA will look at to support a claim for an increased rating of PTSD to 100%.

To increase a PTSD rating to 100%, the veteran must provide evidence that their condition is so severe that their symptoms cause total occupational and social impairment that makes them unemployable. These symptoms may include:

  • Gross impairment in thought processes or communication
  • Persistent delusions or hallucinations
  • Grossly inappropriate behavior
  • Persistent danger of hurting themselves or others
  • Sporadic inability to perform activities of daily living
  • Disorientation regarding time or place
  • Forgetting their own name, names of close relatives, or their occupation  

Evidence to establish a 100% disability rating could include hospitalization records, medication records, and statements from family members or friends that describe the impact of the symptoms on the veteran’s daily life. An attorney who is experienced in handling veterans’ disability claims can help strategize the kind of evidence that could support the claim and understand the types of documentation needed based on claim status.

Compensation and Pension Examination

The VA may require a compensation and pension (C&P) examination to re-evaluate the veteran’s condition before making a decision on an increased rating. During a C&P examination, a VA healthcare provider evaluates the veteran. They assess the severity of the veteran’s symptoms and determine if an increased rating is warranted. A veterans disability attorney can help veterans understand what to expect at their C&P examination and what information may be discussed at this visit.

Appeals

If a veteran is unsatisfied with the VA’s decision on their increased rating claim, they can appeal the decision through the VA’s appeals process. This can be a lengthy and complex process. It is recommended that veterans seek the assistance of a qualified attorney who is experienced in VA disability law. Every case is unique, and an attorney can help you understand your rights as a veteran and what is needed to help you get the rating you deserve from the VA.

Contact Us for Immediate Help with Your Claim

Disability Law Group has a skilled team of experienced, compassionate attorneys who specialize only in disability law. We have helped thousands of veterans to navigate the VA disability system and obtain the decision, rating, and compensation they deserve. Our attorneys are well-versed in the rating criteria for PTSD and can help veterans gather the medical evidence necessary to support an increased rating for PTSD to 100%.

Whether you have not yet applied or need to appeal a decision regarding service connection or the rating assigned, we can help. Contact us today for your free consultation.

Why You Need a VA Attorney to Get TDIU

If you are a disabled veteran and are unable to work due to service-connected disabilities, you may be eligible for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. However, obtaining TDIU benefits can be a challenging and complex process, and it is often in your best interest to work with a Veterans Affairs attorney to help you navigate this process.

Here are some of the reasons why you need a Michigan VA attorney from Disability Law Group to help with obtaining TDIU:

Understanding TDIU eligibility criteria

To be eligible for TDIU benefits, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. A VA attorney can help you understand these criteria and determine if you meet them.

◊ Gathering and presenting evidence: To support your TDIU claim, you will need to provide evidence of your service-connected disabilities and their impact on your ability to work. A VA attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence and present it in a way that is most likely to be convincing to the VA.

◊ Navigating the VA claims process: The process of applying for TDIU benefits can be complex, and the VA often requires a significant amount of paperwork and documentation. Our VA attorneys can help you navigate this process and ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed correctly and submitted on time.

◊ Appealing a denied claim: If your TDIU claim is denied, a VA attorney can help you appeal the decision. Our attorneys can help you understand why your claim was denied and can work with you to gather additional evidence and present a stronger case on appeal.

◊ Maximizing your benefits: An attorney can help you understand all of the benefits available to you and can help you determine the best strategy for maximizing those benefits. For example, our attorneys may be able to help you obtain additional benefits, such as Special Monthly Compensation (SMC).

Contact a VA Attorney at Disability Law Group

In summary, obtaining TDIU benefits can be a complex and challenging process, and working with the VA attorneys at Disability Law Group in Michigan can help ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve. A VA attorney can help you understand the eligibility criteria, gather and present evidence, navigate the claims process, appeal a denied claim, and maximize your benefits. Contact us today and see how we can help you secure maximum compensation for your TDIU benefits.

Supporting Veterans During the Holidays

For many of us, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. But for military veterans, the holidays can be emotionally taxing, especially for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have a veteran in your life who needs some support this holiday season, here are some key things to remember.

Understanding Why the Holidays Can Be Triggering for Our Country’s Heroes

The stresses of the holidays can amplify the challenges that many veterans face in their daily lives, including:

  • Isolation from loved ones – Older veterans and those with smaller families can become isolated during the holidays, especially if they are disabled and have trouble getting around. Some veterans might be confined to a VA hospital, nursing home, or residence, which can be particularly isolating.
  • Stress from adjusting to civilian life – Many servicemembers have trouble returning to civilian life. The associated stresses can become even more pronounced during the holidays when it might feel like they’re the only ones who aren’t experiencing the joy of the season.
  • Triggering memories and survivor’s guilt – Many veterans suffer from vivid, invasive memories of the horrors they experienced in their deployments. Those with PTSD are often highly sensitive around holidays and might have difficulty celebrating due to feelings of survivor’s guilt.
  • Large crowds and loud sounds – Veterans with PTSD often become overwhelmed and exhausted by large, noisy crowds, which are common throughout the holiday season.
  • Pressure to fit in and act happy – Many veterans feel pressured to take part in holiday activities and put on a happy face, even when they’re not really up to it. The weight of these expectations can worsen PTSD symptoms and contribute to feelings of isolation.

Tips to Help a Struggling Veteran

If you have a veteran in your life who needs support this holiday season, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be understanding of their limits – Do your research to understand why the holidays are stressful for many veterans, and have an honest conversation with your loved one about their limits. This could involve building in quiet time, avoiding alcohol, or encouraging breaks throughout the day.
  • Keep the lines of communication open – You can support your loved one simply by spending time with them and letting them know that you are always ready to listen. If you have questions about their needs, ask them respectfully how they want you to support them. Communication is key.
  • Prepare family members for gatherings – Your loved one may find it challenging to keep repeating what they are going through, so you can help them by letting your family members know what to expect. Tell family and friends how they can support your loved one and what subjects to avoid during the holiday.
  • Create new, low-key holiday traditions – Just because your loved one struggles with old holiday traditions doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy new ones. You can talk to them about their needs and concerns and create new traditions to fit them.

Resources to Help

Here are some resources that can help you and your loved one this holiday season and year-round:

  • Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency – The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency can provide emergency assistance, help you find a local veteran service officer, and complete a benefits check.
  • Oakland County VA Office – The Oakland County VA office can connect you with a veteran benefits counselor to apply for benefits and explore options that are available to you.
  • National Center for PTSD – The National Center for PTSD is the world’s leading research and educational center on PTSD. You can learn about PTSD, find local treatment options, and get support for a loved one here.
  • Wounded Warrior Project – The Wounded Warrior Project is a national organization that works to improve the lives of millions of veterans and their families through mental health programs, career counseling, and long-term rehabilitative care.
  • Veterans Crisis Line – If you are in crisis, you can call 988, press 1, or text 838255. The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed 24/7 by qualified crisis responders.

Disability Law Group Is Here for You

If you or someone you know is a disabled veteran in need of legal help, contact the Disability Law Group today for a free initial case review with a compassionate attorney.

veteran suffering from sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD VA Disability Rating

American military veterans are vulnerable to many life-altering disorders. Veterans suffering from sleep apnea may be eligible to receive service-connected VA disability benefits.

In fact, more recent research has helped establish the many ways in which veterans can prove their sleep apnea may be linked to their time in the military. Whether on a direct basis or secondary to another service-connected condition (such as an in-service injury or PTSD, for example), there are many ways that you can prove a service connection for sleep apnea. 

Qualified VA disability attorneys work with deserving veterans, and doctors ( such as pulmonologists and respiratory specialists),  to secure disability benefits for sleep apnea. To help you understand more about sleep apnea and your VA disability rating, let’s explore a bit further. 

Benefits You Can Receive Based on Sleep Apnea VA Disability Ratings

The benefits you receive for a sleep apnea disability are tied to your VA disability rating. There are four different VA sleep apnea ratings as cited in Title 38, Code of Federal Regulation, Section 4.97.

  • 0 percent VA rating asymptomatic (no symptoms), but with documented sleep disorder breathing.
  • 30 percent VA rating with persistent daytime hypersomnolence, but in the absence of a breathing device
  • 50% VA rating if the use of breathing assistance devices is required, i.e., Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) 
  • 100 percent VA rating for chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention, cor pulmonale, or requires tracheostomy

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a relatively common but serious condition characterized by interruptions in your breathing pattern while sleeping.

There are three primary types of sleep apnea, the most common being obstructive, then central, and finally complex:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the result of your throat muscles intermittently relaxing and blocking your airway while you sleep. 
  • Central Sleep Apnea occurs when your brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. 

All three sleep apnea types can impair your daily functions. Sleep apnea also leads to other severe and life-threatening health conditions, including high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, liver disease, and type-2 diabetes.  

Veterans should be particularly alert to sleep apnea symptoms, as the disorder affects them at a disproportionately higher rate than members of the general civilian population.

Unfortunately, many veterans are not aware that they could have a viable claim for service connection for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or the other types that can commonly occur in veterans.

Thankfully, medical research and scientific data continue to widely support service connection which can help veterans prove their case and seek the highest VA disability rating under the law.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

While many sleep apnea symptoms may be mild, the ongoing recurrence or worsening of these symptoms warrants further investigation of their cause and effects through a sleep study.

In fact, veterans seeking to file a claim for sleep apnea disability benefits will be required to submit a sleep study medical diagnosis of their condition. 

Sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Snoring
  • Dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Interrupted breathing during sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime tiredness
  • Anger and Irritability

If you’re a veteran experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your doctor for help and inquire about sleep studies to determine if you have sleep apnea. 

Filing a Sleep Apnea Claim for VA Benefits

Military veterans suffering from sleep apnea may be eligible for VA benefits. A veteran’s disability benefits attorney can guide you through the necessary steps to file a claim successfully. 

Three conditions of proof must be met for a viable VA sleep apnea claim:

  1. Diagnosis of sleep apnea from sleep study administered by a qualified medical professional;
  2. The sleep apnea condition started or worsened during active service;
  3. Your current diagnosis and in-service event are connected.

If your sleep apnea did not develop during or worsen as a result of active service, you might still be eligible for benefits under a secondary claim. 

Secondary Sleep Apnea claims require:

  1. A medical diagnosis confirmed by a sleep study in VA  or private medical records; 
  2. Evidence of a service-connected primary disability; and 
  3. Medical evidence establishing a connection between the service-related disability and the current disability.

Your attorney will organize and prepare all evidence supporting these elements for your disability claim. While the VA initially denies most claims, many cases are won on appeal when the above criteria are met.

Filing for VA Sleep Apnea Benefits? Consult with a VA Disability Attorney

The Veterans Affairs Administration recognizes sleep apnea as a debilitating condition that warrants disability support. However, navigating the requirements of the claims and appeals process is challenging at best.

If you are a veteran suffering from sleep apnea, you need help to file a successful VA disability claim. 

Reach out to our legal team today to speak with an experienced VA disability attorney for assistance with your VA sleep apnea claim or appeal. 

Veteran applying for disability back pay

How to Qualify for VA Disability Back Pay

When you apply for VA disability benefits, the VA determines your date of disability. That date may be the date of injury or a later date, such as when you filed your ‘intent to file’ or complete application for disability benefits.

In many cases, to qualify for VA disability back pay, veterans need to have their disability benefits approved, allowing them to be entitled of this benefit. If you are having trouble receiving your disability back pay, contact our Michigan VA benefits attorneys for help.

Understanding VA Disability Back Pay

When the VA approves a veteran for disability benefits, it determines a monthly amount that the veteran will receive for disability pay. Once the VA approves a disability claim, the veteran typically begins receiving monthly disability payments within a month. However, the veteran may also be entitled to disability back pay.

Disability back pay is the amount of disability benefits you would have been entitled to receive from a specific date through the date your disability benefits began. Back pay is paid in a lump sum.

The date for determining back pay varies, depending on when you file your VA disability claim and other factors. It is important to understand how the VA calculates the date for disability back pay to ensure that you receive all the disability benefits you are entitled to receive.

Further, some cases merit a re-opening of a previous denial to allow for additional back-pay benefits to be paid to the veteran. However, the arguments can be complex and typically involve a detailed analysis of the law, medical records, and facts of the case including any reason for failing to appeal the previous or initial decision. 

How VA Disability Back Pay Works – Payment Dates

In many cases, the VA pays disability back pay from the time the veteran filed the disability claim through the date the claim was approved. Depending on the case and whether an appeal or review is necessary, that period could equal a few months or over a year. 

However, the effective date of the claim may not be the filing date of the claim in some cases. The effective date could be the date the veteran became entitled to the benefits, such as the date the veteran was diagnosed with the condition that resulted in the impairment or disability.

In that case, the effective date could be a date that is well before the claim filing date. In that case, a veteran could be entitled to substantially more money than the VA is calculating for disability back pay. However, this scenario only applies if a veteran files for disability benefits within a year of being discharged from service. 

The effective date for VA disability back pay may also be different from the claim filing date in cases involving increased rating claims. The effective date for an increased rating claim could go back a year before the date the veteran filed the disability claim if certain circumstances apply. Also, there are special rules that apply to claims related to Agent Orange exposure, and other types of claims. 

The best thing for a veteran to do if he or she is unsure of the effective date for their VA disability back pay is to talk to an experienced disability lawyer. A disability lawyer can use the facts of the case to calculate the correct effective date for VA disability back pay.

If the VA is using a date that is not correct, a skilled Michigan disability attorney can assist the veteran in filing an appeal or request for review to gain all the back pay that the veteran is entitled to receive.

Talk to Our Michigan Disability Attorneys for Help Today

Navigating the VA disability claims system can be confusing and frustrating. If you have questions about your VA disability claim, disability payments, or disability back pay, contact our Michigan disability attorneys for a free case review.

Disability Law Group is dedicated to helping the disabled receive the benefits they deserve every step of the way. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience specializing strictly in disability benefits, and we are here to help you.

ptsd va 100 percent rating

How To Get A 100% PTSD Rating From the VA

Military veterans suffering from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are likely to qualify for compensation from the VA. However, due to how the VA examines benefits applications, many vets do not receive the full compensation they deserve.

VA benefits are provided according to the veteran’s disability rating, which is expressed as a percentage. A 100% VA disability rating can mean thousands of dollars in added benefits each year.

If you know a veteran who is disabled by PTSD symptoms and does not have a 100% VA disability rating or its equivalent, you should speak to an experienced disability benefits attorney. The Disability Law Group helps veterans in Michigan file claims for PTSD disability, including in Macomb County, Wayne County, and Oakland County and across the nation. Contact us today to find out how to increase your loved one’s VA disability rating for PTSD.

What Is PTSD According to the VA?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. Deployment in a war zone, combat, training accidents, and military sexual trauma may lead to PTSD, the VA’s National Center for PTSD says.

The VA considers a vet to have experienced a traumatic event if he or she suffered a serious injury, personal or sexual trauma, or was threatened with injury, sexual assault, or death.

PTSD can produce a broad range of symptoms including:

  • Re-experiencing trauma, such as flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts about the event
  • Heightened emotions such as being easily startled or angered, having difficulty concentrating, or having difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional numbness or avoidance of certain triggers for re-experiencing the trauma.

A veteran may qualify for VA disability benefits if he or she has symptoms related to a traumatic event and:

  • The highly stressful event happened during military service, and
  • The vet can’t function as well as they once could because of their symptoms, and
  • A doctor has diagnosed the veteran with PTSD.

Understanding the VA Disability Rating for PTSD

ptsd va rating

The VA assigns benefit applicants a disability rating based on the severity of their service-connected condition. The VA disability rating determines how much disability compensation the veteran receives each month, as well as their eligibility for other VA benefits.

A 100% disability rating means the veteran’s physical and/or mental disability makes it impossible for them to maintain substantially gainful employment. The VA defines “substantially gainful” employment as employment that people who are not disabled ordinarily undertake to earn their livelihood and which pays at a rate common to that particular occupation.

The VA rates veterans with disabilities due to mental disorders as 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% disabled.

Under federal law, a veteran who is released from active military service because of a mental disorder that develops in service as a result of a highly stressful event, such as PTSD, is automatically assigned a disability rating of 50% and reexamined in six months.

A 50% rating applies to occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as:

  • Panic attacks more than once a week
  • Difficulty understanding complex commands
  • Impairment of short- and long-term memory
  • Disturbances of motivation and mood
  • Difficulty establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

A 100% rating means total occupational and social impairment. The symptoms include:

  • Gross impairment in thought processes or communication
  • Persistent delusions or hallucinations
  • Grossly inappropriate behavior
  • The persistent danger of hurting oneself or others
  • Disorientation to time or place.

How To Get the Highest Disability Rating for PTSD

VA disability ratings are based on the severity of symptoms.

The primary evidence submitted to the VA to establish a veteran’s disability comes from doctors who have examined the vet and completed a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ). These forms, which have recently been updated, are specialized according to the disability, meaning there is a specific DBQ for PTSD examinations.

If the VA questions or disputes evidence a veteran submits, it can order an examination by its own physicians. This exam is known as a C&P, or “compensation and pension” exam.

Our attorneys work closely with medical specialists and can obtain medical evidence to help you receive the highest rating possible. Whether you are preparing an initial application for disability benefits or appealing a VA disability rating decision, our dedicated attorneys at Disability Law Group stand ready to assist you. We have years of experience handling VA disability cases and are proud to stand up for the men and women who served our nation.

Qualifying for Individual Unemployability in Lieu of a 100% PTSD Rating

A veteran who cannot maintain substantially gainful employment due to a service-connected illness or injury may qualify for Individual Unemployability. The veteran may be able to get disability benefits just as a veteran who has a 100% disability rating would.

A rating of Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) requires:

  • At least one service-connected disability rated at 60% or more, or two or more service-connected disabilities — one rated at 40% or more and producing a 70% or higher rating when combined, and
  • Inability to hold down substantially gainful employment because of a service-connected disability.

Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability also may be available if the veteran cannot work because of other circumstances, such as frequent hospitalization due to PTSD symptoms.

Contact Us About a Proper VA Disability Rating for PTSD

If your loved one is disabled by service-connected PTSD, we can help you ensure that he or she is paid the full government benefit promised to them. The experienced attorneys of Disability Law Group are knowledgeable about both VA and Social Security Disability benefits and how best to recover disability payments that will ensure your and your family’s financial security.

Please contact us by phone or email, or fill out one of the contact forms on our website, so we can get started helping help you and your family.