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.

Forever Chemicals and breathing problems

Understanding the Dangers of Forever Chemicals

What Are Forever Chemicals?

PFAS, better known as “forever chemicals” are dangerous chemicals that stay in the environment and in your body forever. These chemicals were mainly used in a certain foam that was used to fight fires with on military installations around the country.

Once spilled onto the ground, they contaminate the surface and the ground underneath the surface and sometimes contaminate the groundwater. PFAS have been linked to various health problems including birth defects, cardiovascular issues, compromised immune systems, and a variety of cancers.

They are known to cause these health problems ranging from .004 to .002 parts per trillion. Previously, the EPA said only 70 parts per trillion could cause those health defects. In layman’s terms, an extremely small amount of the PFAS chemicals could cause significant and irreversible damage to your body.

What Is Being Done Now?

The military, federal government, and state governments have been struggling with a viable solution to how this will be contained and cleaned up to prevent future contamination. The science behind PFAS is still being researched and new discoveries are being made very often.

The federal government estimates that 700 active bases have been contaminated and only 80 of them require no assistance. Meaning there are over 600 bases around the country that will need assistance in cleaning up these forever chemicals. So far, 1.5 billion has been spent in the research and discovery process of PFAS.

How Will This Be Prevented in the Future?

First off, the military has pledged to start phasing out the fire-fighting foam that contained the dangerous PFAS chemicals.

Secondly, in last year’s annual defense policy bill, the Pentagon was required to create rules to prevent and clean up firefighting foam spills and test for PFAS chemicals at all National Guard facilities.

Lastly, a National Defense Authorization Act is now making its way through the House Armed Services Committee. In this version, lawmakers are seeking to have the pentagon deliver timely briefings on its efforts in phasing out PFAS chemicals and the ongoing clean-up process.

Contact a VA Disability Attorney

If you believe to have come in contact with these dangerous PFAS chemicals and have become permanently disabled because of it, we can help you! Our Veterans Disability Attorneys at Disability Law Group are certified to handle VA benefit claims and we strictly specialize in disability law.

Our consultations are always free. We will take a close look at your file and help you understand your rights. Give us a call or contact us online to see how we can help you today.

Veteran with PTSD talking about his non-combat stressors.

June 2022 is PTSD Awareness Month!

June is PTSD Awareness Month and here at Disability Law Group, we are going to do everything we can to help spread awareness on this critical topic and help end the stigma surrounding treatment.

What is PTSD?

Let’s first dive into what PTSD is. PTSD is a mental health condition that is caused by exposure to life-threatening events. These include but are not limited to combat, car accidents, natural disasters, sexual assault, and other traumatic experiences. We understand that PTSD can affect everyone in different ways and that there are many treatment options and mechanisms to help cope and find relief that works differently depending on the situation.

Qualifications for Service-Connected PTSD Disability Benefits

If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD or know veteran suffering from PTSD, you could qualify for service-connected disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify for these types of disability benefits from the VA. For example, the following criterion is evaluated for PTSD claims by the VA:

  1. A current diagnosis;
  2. A stressor (e.g. exposure to death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence);
  3. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one or more ways (e.g. nightmares, intrusive memories, flashbacks, etc.);
  4. Avoiding the above factors;
  5. Negative alterations in mood or cognition;
  6. Alterations in arousal and reactivity following the event; and
  7. The duration of the symptoms lasts more than one month, and symptoms are attributable to PTSD rather than substance use for example.

While the requirements may not seem extraordinarily rigorous, the VA routinely denies Veteran’s claims for service connection, even when the Veteran served in combat. In fact, even of those claims that are approved, the VA commonly fails to assess the appropriate percentage and effective date, which results in less money and benefit to the Veteran and their families.

Contact VA Disability Attorney

Fortunately, you are not alone. You can hire a VA Disability Attorney to help you fight and win the full benefits you deserve under the law. Our Veterans Benefits Attorneys are certified to handle VA benefits claims and we strictly specialize in disability law. Our consultations are always free. We will take a close look at your file and help you understand your rights. Give us a call or contact us online today to see how we can help you today.

VA Disability Attorney going over medical documents with client

How to Obtain VA Medical Records

You can request your Veterans Administration (VA) medical records online. Also, the VA offers several ways to get help or get answers to your questions. 

A Michigan VA Disability attorney can help you go after the disability benefits you deserve. Here is a quick overview of how to obtain VA medical records:

How to Get Your VA Medical Records Online

You can log in to see your VA medical records through any of these accounts:

  • Login.gov
  • ID.me
  • DS Logon
  • My HealtheVet

If you do not already have one of these accounts, you can create a free account at Login.gov or ID.me to start the process of getting your VA medical records.

When in the My HealtheVet website, you can use the VA Blue Button to see, download, print, and share your medical records. You can perform many different functions with the VA Blue Button if you are enrolled in the VA healthcare system and are a registered patient at a VA health facility. Also, you must have:

  • A verified Login.gov or ID.me account or
  • A Premium DS Logon or My HealtheVet account

If you meet those qualifications, you will be able to click on the Health Records tab and access your Blue Button report, your health summary, and your medical images and reports. It does not cost anything for you to create one of these accounts.

If you think that your personal health record is incomplete, you can add information to it. Go to the blue navigation button at the top of the Health Records page and click Track Health. On the page that then opens, you can add things like your health history, vital signs, exercise habits, and other essential data.

Getting Your VA Medical Images and Reports

If you have a My HealtheVet Premium account and you are a VA patient, it is possible to go online and download your VA Medical Images and Reports. No more waiting for weeks to get your hands on the information and medical evidence you need. You will need to go into your VA electronic health record (EHR) and see which of your medical records are available for you to access and download.

A Premium My HealtheVet account gives you these options:

  • Access to your available VA Medical Images and Reports
  • You can then download those images and reports.
  • You are allowed to save, print, and copy your diagnostic images onto a compact disc (CD) to share at your option with your caregivers and healthcare providers who are outside of the VA system.

These features can speed up the process of applying for disability benefits and help you manage your healthcare services.

How to Get Additional Help with Getting Your VA Medical Records

You can call the My HealtheVet help desk if you have questions or need more information about obtaining your VA medical records. The help desk is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern time. The telephone number is (877) 327-0022 (TTY: 800-877-8339).

If you prefer to contact the VA My HealtheVet help desk online rather than by telephone, you could reach out to them on their web portal

Your Michigan VA Disability attorney can talk to you about your eligibility for disability benefits and handle your appeal if you were wrongly denied benefits or awarded too low an amount of benefits. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.

female veteran and attorney

Can a VA Disability Claim Be Garnished?

The short answer to the question of whether a person’s Veterans Administration (VA) disability benefits can be garnished is a qualification sometimes. When a veteran falls behind on paying child support or spousal support, the court or the state might issue an order to garnish the veteran’s VA benefits. Sometimes those benefits can get garnished, but not always.

A Michigan VA disability claims attorney can help you navigate the process of the attempted garnishments of VA benefits. Let’s explore the question, can a VA disability claim be garnished?

Who Gets to Decide if a Veteran’s VA Disability Benefits Can Be Garnished

You might think that the judge or the state administrative agency that issued the garnishment order would decide if a veteran’s VA disability benefits can get garnished and, if so, the amount to be garnished; but that is not the case. The VA, not the courts or the states, gets to determine if the particular veteran’s VA disability benefits can get garnished and, if so, how much garnishment is reasonable.

The General Rules of Garnishing VA Disability Benefits

Usually, one can only garnish the VA disability benefits of a veteran if the veteran waived military retired pay in order to get the VA disability benefits. If the veteran did waive a portion of it their military retired pay for that reason, they can only garnish the part of the veteran’s disability compensation that the veteran received in place of military retired pay. 

The other portion of the disability compensation cannot get garnished. Also, one cannot garnish the VA benefits at all if the veteran did not waive any military retired pay to receive VA benefits.

Factors the VA Uses to Determine How Much of the VA Disability Compensation Can Get Garnished

Determining the amount of the disability benefits that represent the retired military pay the veteran waived is only the first step in the process. The VA will analyze several additional factors to determine how much of the eligible VA disability compensation would be a reasonable garnishment. Usually, the VA only allows between 20 to 50% of a veteran’s VA disability benefits to get garnished. A higher amount would likely cause undue hardship to the veteran.

The VA will not garnish a veteran’s VA disability compensation for taxes, student loans, debts to creditors, or medical bills if the VA disability compensation is the veteran’s sole source of income. The VA will explore whether the veteran requires more income than the average person because of any special needs the veteran might have. 

The VA also examines extra expenses caused by special needs of the former spouse and children not in the custody of the veteran. The other income available to the veteran’s former spouse is an additional factor the VA will look into when determining the reasonableness of the garnishment request.

In some situations, the VA could refuse to enforce a garnishment order of VA disability benefits if the garnishment would cause the veteran undue financial hardship, or if:

  • The veteran’s former spouse was found guilty of infidelity by a state court.
  • The former spouse or child of the veteran has not filed for apportionment.
  • The ex-spouse of the veteran is living with another person with whom they have a romantic relationship.

The VA does not always review the criteria fully, sometimes resulting in improper garnishments. There are ways to demonstrate that you would meet an exception, precluding garnishment, especially if you can show it would be unreasonable or cause undue hardship. A Michigan VA Disability attorney can help you with your garnishment of VA disability benefits situation. You can contact our office today for legal assistance, we gladly offer a free consultation.

Veteran disability attorney sitting with veteran

2022 VA Disability Rates to Increase – What it Means for You

Congress increased VA disability compensation for 2022 by 5.9 percent, the same amount as the cost-of-living (COLA) increase for Social Security disability and retirement benefits. The purpose of COLA increases is to keep pace with the actual purchasing power of the American dollar. If Congress did not make these annual adjustments, your VA disability check would have less value over time. 

The cost-of-living adjustments only increase the amount of your VA disability pay. Congress does not reduce the amount of VA disability checks or Social Security benefits if the cost of living goes down. A Michigan Veteran Disability attorney can help you fight for the VA disability benefits you deserve. Here’s some more information about the 2022 VA disability rates to increase and what it means for you.

The New VA Disability Rates as of 2022

For the calendar year of 2022, a 100 percent disabled veteran with no spouse, children, or dependent parents will now receive VA disability benefits of $3,332.06 per month. If that same veteran has a dependent spouse, the 2022 monthly benefit will be $3,517.84. In that situation, the benefits can get increased by $170 a month for a spouse receiving Aid and Attendance.

A 100 percent disabled veteran with a dependent spouse and child can now receive $3,653.89 per month. Each additional child under the age of 18 in this situation can increase the monthly check by 92 dollars. Additional children over the age of 18 in a qualifying school program can increase the check by $198 per month.

An Overview of COLAs

Even when we are not officially in an inflationary period, the cost of living usually increases a little every year. Think of your groceries. A gallon of milk and a loaf of bread cost significantly more than they did 20 years ago. If your VA disability check never increased, over time, you could buy less and less with that check.

Every year, Congress determines how much the COLA will be for the following year. Congress votes in the fall on the COLA for the next year. The 2022 COLA increase actually went into effect on December 1, 2021.

There have only been three times in the last 20 years when there was no COLA increase: 2009, 2010, and 2015. For people receiving VA disability or Social Security checks in those years, their benefits remained the same until Congress voted the following year about the possibility of increases. The 2022 increase of 5.9 percent is the highest increase in the last 20 years, just edging out 2008, in which the increase was 5.8 percent. The lowest increase during that time was 0.3 percent in 2016.

You Might be Eligible for a Higher Disability Rating

Your disability rating is essential to the calculation of how much your monthly disability check will be. If your medical condition has worsened or you qualify under legislation that went into effect after your original VA disability rating, you might be eligible for a higher disability rating. 

A Michigan Veteran Disability attorney can talk to you and explore the possibility of going for a higher disability rating, which would increase your monthly VA disability check. Contact our office today for legal assistance, we offer a free consultation.

VA disability attorney and client

Documents a Veteran can Submit to Help Win their VA Disability Case

When you file for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you will need to provide evidence that proves you qualify for that monthly check. The VA will obtain some of your records if you give them permission to do so, but it could be quicker if you send them the supporting documents directly.

Applying for VA disability benefits can be challenging and frustrating. Many people get denied on their first application. A Michigan VA Disability attorney can advocate for you and appeal an adverse decision or help you prepare your initial application.

Supporting Documents the VA Requires with Your Application for VA Disability Benefits

The VA requires specific documents from everyone who files for disability benefits. Regardless of the injury or illness for which you are seeking benefits, you will have to send in these items or authorize the VA to obtain them:

  • All medical evidence involving your injury or illness. For example, your hospital file, doctors’ records, imaging studies like x-rays or CAT scans, and results of other relevant medical tests.
  • Your DD214 or other documents concerning your separation from military service.
  • Records of your service treatment. 

Veterans who got discharged from the Army before 1961 or the Air Force before 1965 might have difficulty obtaining their records because of a massive fire at a record center in 1973. Your lawyer can help you file your claim if your records got destroyed in that event. 

Reasons You Might Need to Submit Evidence of Your Disability to the VA

There are five different situations in which you might need to submit a claim with supporting documentation to the VA proven your disability:

  1. Your original claim for disability benefits; in other words, the first time you file seeking benefits for a service-related injury or illness.
  2. An increased claim, which is a claim for a disability that got worse after the VA awarded you benefits.
  3. A new claim, in which you request additional benefits or other benefit requests in connection with your existing qualifying disability.
  4. A secondary service-related claim, which is a new disability claim that has a link to your existing service-related disability.
  5. A supplemental claim, in which you submit additional supporting documentation regarding a disability claim that the VA previously denied. 

The required evidence will depend on your type of claim and the facts of your situation. 

What Your Documents Need to Show to Win Your VA Disability Case

Your supporting documents will need to prove both of these factors to win your VA disability claim:

  • You experienced an illness, injury, or event during your military service that caused your disability. The illness, injury, or event must be service-connected.
  • You currently have a physical or mental disability. Put another way, something happened during your military service that caused damage to you physically or mentally. This damage prevents you from being gainfully employed or limits your ability to function and perform everyday tasks.

You do not have to battle the VA by yourself. A Michigan VA Disability attorney can handle your VA disability claim or appeal so that you can focus on your health and well-being. Contact our office today for legal assistance, we offer a free consultation.

Veteran meeting with attorney

Receiving VA Disability After Burn Pit Exposure

More than 3 million veterans could be eligible for Veterans Administration (VA) disability benefits if they developed a qualifying medical condition after being exposed to fumes from burn pits while serving in the Middle East. Veterans who served in that region as far back as the Gulf War could be eligible to collect compensation.

You will have to meet the VA’s criteria to receive disability benefits for a service-related medical condition. A Michigan VA Disability Attorney can answer your questions about eligibility for burn pit exposure compensation and advocate for you if the VA has denied your application for benefits.

Time Frame for Eligibility

The VA has expanded benefits eligibility to include veterans who served in:

  • The Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990, to the present time, or
  • The Middle East, including Syria, Djibouti, Afghanistan, or Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War, beginning on September 19, 2001, to the present time.

Veterans whose claims are already pending will not have to do anything to update their applications until they receive the VA’s decision.

What Are Airborne Hazards as Related to Burn Pit Exposure?

The VA is especially concerned about military personnel who got exposed to smoke and fumes generated by open burn pits while on active duty. The government includes these things in their definition of airborne hazards during military service:

  • Open burn pit smoke and fumes
  • Oil well fire smoke
  • Dust, sand, and particulate matter
  • Fumes from fuel, aircraft exhaust, and other mechanical sources
  • General air pollution commonly present in some countries

The military disposed of trash and other waste material by using open-air burn pits. Most of these burn pits are now closed, and the Department of Defense plans to shut down all remaining burn pits.

What Got Disposed of in the Burn Pits?

The military burned many different types of waste in the open burn pits, including:

  • Food waste 
  • Trash composed of wood, rubber, and plastic
  • Cans made of aluminum and other metals
  • Human waste
  • Paint, chemicals, and medical waste
  • Petroleum and lubricant products
  • Munitions and unexploded ordinance

The smoke from burning these items could cause short-term medical conditions, like breathing difficulties, coughing, skin itching and rashes, or burning and irritation of the throat or eyes. Military personnel who had extended exposure to the burn pits or were closer to them could be at greater risk of developing longer-term health consequences.

Respiratory Health Conditions Associated with Burn Pit Exposure

The VA concluded that veterans exposed to burn pit smoke could develop chronic respiratory conditions within ten years after separation from service, including asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis, including rhinosinusitis. There are many additional illnesses that might have a burn pit exposure connection, such as:

  • Cancer, including leukemia, carcinoma, lymphoma, medulloblastoma, and cancers of the bladder, bones, brain, prostate, intestines, kidneys, lungs, pharynx, larynx, pancreas, and other organs and tissues.
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Many chronic respiratory conditions
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Many other adverse medical conditions

If you or a loved one developed a medical condition within ten years of separating from service and served in the qualifying geographic locations, you might be eligible for VA disability benefits. A Michigan VA Disability Attorney can talk to you about eligibility for compensation for burn pit exposure. Get in touch with our office for legal assistance, we offer a free consultation.