Myths About VA Disability!
1. Deny, deny, deny until you die. FALSE, If this were true then
we probably would not be in business too long. While most Veterans
do get denied the first time they apply, it is still possible to get service-connected. We do a thorough review of all of your records to make sure you are eligible for benefits. We will only pursue valid claims. In fact, we receive favorable decisions on our clients on a regular basis. The thing to remember that you have to put in a lot of time and work to get a service-connected disability.
2. The VA is out to get me. FALSE, I find it hard to believe that the employees are plotting against anyone. We work with several Regional Offices throughout the nation, and they are people just like you and I. Did you know a lot VA’s employees are Veterans? These people have so much work that they really don’t have the time to plot against individuals. Now, is the system flawed? Yes, but the VA is taking steps to improve the backlog and make the process better.
3. Back pay will go back to the time I was injured. FALSE, No matter when you served, who you are, or what your injury is, back pay originates when you initially file for benefits. (As long as your claim does not close.) Now, some of you might say: “my buddy got it back when he was injured.” Well, he likely applied as a part of his discharge process. No two claims are alike; therefore everyone gets connected at different times.
4. I may have to wait forever for my benefits. KIND OF TRUE…sadly. On average, a claim can take between 3-5 years. Some are shorter than that, others are longer, but even a year can feel like an eternity when you are waiting to get the benefits you deserve.
5. I was injured when I was serving and I will automatically get service-connected for it now. FALSE, When it comes to service connection you have to have a disability in the present. For instance, let’s say you served in 1984 and had an incident in which your knee was injured. You sought treatment for it, continued on, and received your discharge in 1993. Well, it’s almost 30 years since that injury occurred. If your knee feels fine now, then the best you are likely to get 0% connected. In other words, you were injured in the service but it is not affecting you now.
6. I served in combat; I will automatically get service-connected for PTSD. FALSE, In order to get service-connected for PTSD, you must have a diagnosis from a doctor, treatment, and many more factors in order to get service-connected for PTSD. On the flip side of this, many Veterans are under the impression that they have to serve in combat in order to be service-connect for PTSD. This too is FALSE. Even if you never left the country, served during peacetime, or were even in the Coast Guard, you can get service-connected for PTSD. We reference the Coast Guard as so many Veterans we talk in the Coast Guard are under the impression that they can’t file for PTSD.
7. Can I file a claim for Agent Orange? NO…but you can file for a presumptive condition. If I had a dime for every time I had someone ask to file a claim on Agent Orange, I could easily purchase a value meal at a leading fast-food chain. We always reply the same way; “You can’t file a claim for exposure to Agent Orange, you can file a claim for a disability associated with Agent Orange. So many Veterans are misinformed about this subject. One thing to think about here is that there are several conditions that are presumptive, and you can get service-connected for multiple disabilities under Agent Orange.
8. Hiring an attorney will speed up my case. FALSE. (We wish it were true, though.) When it comes to your VA Disability claim there are really only two ways to speed it up. The first way is if you are terminally ill, the second, is if you are facing economic hardship.
9. Hiring an attorney will slow down my claim. FALSE This one really does not make much sense. However, we often hear from prospective clients that a friend told them an attorney would slow their case down. Once again misinformation plays a huge role in this myth. If hiring an attorney slowed your case down then why would we be doing this in the first place? We submit claims, file appeals, review and submit evidence, represent Veterans at all three levels of hearings, and do so much more. Hiring an attorney can actually be more efficient.
10. I should wait until my VA Claim is over before I file for Social Security FALSE While this is false, I do understand where this logic comes from. For instance: “I can use evidence from one to argue the other.” While that is true, that does not mean you can’t do both at the same time. While Social Security and VA are alike in some ways, they are actually quite different. Put simply, the VA’s job is to determine if your disability is a result of your time in service. Social Security, on the other hand, is in place to determine if you are disabled, regardless of how you became disabled. So, it is likely that you are eligible for both.
11. I don’t have a disability? This is probably the most common reason veterans don’t file a disability claim. It’s unfortunate that there is a stigma around the term “disability.” A better way to look at a VA disability claim is to say, “I have a medical condition that occurred during, or was caused by, my military service.” Likewise, you can think about “disability compensation” as an insurance policy against those same medical conditions. An approved disability claim will give you access to VA medical care and a monthly disability compensation payment (for ratings of 10% or higher). Filing a VA disability claim isn’t milking the system – it is a way to ensure your future self from potentially worse medical conditions, get the medical treatment you need, and receive monetary compensation from lost earnings potential.
12. Having a VA disability rating will affect my future employment options. FALES Many jobs require members to be in top physical condition (police, firefighters, first responders, federal agents, etc.). Some of these careers may even require the member to pass a physical fitness test or other medical screening. In almost all of these cases, the underlying medical condition and your health and fitness will determine your ability to qualify for the job. The fact you have a VA disability rating generally won’t impact your ability to land the job. To counter this myth, a VA disability rating may give you additional Veterans Preference Points for federal employment (some states may have a similar program for state job applications).
13. Getting VA Disability benefits will take them from someone who deserves them. FALSE This is a noble line of thinking, but it’s not true. There is no quota or maximum number of veterans who can receive VA disability benefits. The VA also places veterans into Priority Groups based on the severity of their disability ratings, economic need, and other factors. The VA is there for all veterans, not just those who have the “greatest” need. You owe it to yourself and your family to receive the care and benefits you have earned.
14. I’m already receiving military retirement pay. VA Disability compensation will only reduce my retirement pay? Slightly Twisted TRUTH. This is another statement that is based on a partial truth, then slightly twisted. Retirees with a VA disability rating of 40% or lower will have their military retirement pay reduced by the amount of disability compensation they receive from the VA. However, VA disability compensation is tax-free. So the net gain works in the veteran’s favor. Retirees with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher are eligible to receive Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP). CRDP awards veterans their full military retirement pay along with their full disability compensation payment. Military retirees with a disability rating may have their pay affected in other ways. The following article will give you more information regarding how VA disability compensation affects military retirement pay.
15. VA Disability Compensation benefits aren’t worth that much. FALSE I wouldn’t say that. A 10% disability rating brings in $133.17 per month in disability compensation (FY16 rates). That may not seem like a huge amount on the surface. But this is a monthly payment that is also indexed to inflation, meaning it can increase over time. The higher your rating, the larger the monthly compensation payment. Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or greater can add dependents to their disability claims. This will increase the monthly payment for each qualified dependent. Finally, you may be able to file a new claim for an increased rating if your condition worsens.
16. My illness/injury isn’t bad. There is no need to file a disability claim. FALES
Everything is fine—until it isn’t. Injuries and illnesses can get worse as we age. This is likely to be the healthiest period of your life. File a disability claim if you have an illness or injury that occurred while in the military. Even if the condition is minor, establishing a service-connection is the first step in having your disability claim approved. The sooner you make your claim, the easier it is to establish a connection to your military service.
17. Note about 0% disability ratings: it is possible to receive a 0% disability rating. This occurs when the VA acknowledges there is an illness or injury connected to your military service. This is still considered a valid disability rating and if the condition worsens, you can file a new claim requesting the rating be increased.
18. It’s too late to file a disability claim—I left active duty years ago! FALSE
There is no timeline to file a disability claim for a service-connected disability. However, it’s much easier to file a claim shortly after leaving the military. This is because you need to establish a connection to your illness or injury and your military service. This is easier when done shortly after leaving the military. However, some illnesses and injuries don’t occur until years after leaving military service. This is something that has received national attention in recent years as many veterans from the Korean and Vietnam War eras have been diagnosed with cancers and other medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure or related chemicals, or exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Other exposure hazards include mustard gas, asbestos, ionizing radiation, Project 112/SHAD (chemical tests to defend against biological and chemical weapons threats), and Radiogenic Risk Activities. You can learn more about these chemical exposures. In these cases, it can take years or even decades before symptoms occur. Remember, there is no time limit to file a claim! Here is an article from a veteran who filed VA disability claims several years after separating from active duty.
19. I’m not eligible for VA Disability Compensation because I’m already receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) (or disability through another program). FALSE
You should verify this information before assuming you are ineligible to receive both forms of compensation. For example, it is possible to receive both VA disability compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits. There is even a program called Social Security Disability Benefits for Wounded Warriors. There is no rule that states you cannot receive compensation from both sources. In fact, having a 100% Permanent and Total VA rating can make you eligible for expedited processing for your Social Security Disability claim.
Visit www.VADisabilityAdvocate.com or Call 702-209-5722
for your free consultation.