VA DISABILITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWER (Q&A)

 

 

Q: How do I schedule an appointment?

A: Our goal is to speak with you directly to answer your question; however, we field 30 - 50 calls daily, making it difficult to have a meaningful conversation. Appointments are your best option because it allows you a scheduled block of time to discuss your issues with your disability advocate.

New Client Appointment

Pre-Exam Appointment

VA disability claim Status – Or Text 702-209-5722

Decision Letter Review Appointment

Q: What are your hour of operations?

A: We are open M-F 1100 – 1700; we are closed all state and federal holidays.

Q: What do we do for you?

A: 

  • We initiate a development process to investigate the status of your various cases with the VA to determine what has and has not been done to get grounded in your case. 

  • ​​Once grounded in your case, I will help you identify the weaknesses in your case and make recommendations on how to overcome them.

  • ​We analyze and develop a strategy to win your benefits in the shortest amount of time.

  • ​We challenge the VA’s adversarial conclusions that obstruct your benefits.

  • ​We gather all your Military and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Records, including records from your private doctors. (This is a shared responsibility between us, the VA, and you)

  • ​We find and correct errors in an earlier decision to get you the earliest possible effective date of your compensation award.

Q: How do I know if I'm a veteran qualified for VA benefits?

A: Many eligible individuals are unaware that they are "veterans" for VA benefits purposes. Contrary to some beliefs, it is not necessary that a service member has been in combat or has retired from the military to be eligible for VA benefits. Although there is usually some minimal period of service requirements, the vast majority of individuals with active duty service "call ups" of Reserve or Guard) are "veterans" for VA purposes.

Q: How do I get a copy of my 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent form)?

A: The DD Form 214, Report of Separation, is filed in the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). Most veterans and their next-of-kin can request copies of their DD Form 214 and other 20th Century military and medical personnel records online, via eVetRecs. Please use the Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records

Q: How do I upgrade my military discharge?

A: A veteran with a discharge that does not qualify them for compensation benefits may try to "upgrade" the character of the discharge. VA does not change the character of discharge assigned by the service branch. Each service branch has a "Discharge Review Board" ("DRB") and a "Board for Correction of Military Records" ("BCMR"). Both of these Boards have their procedures for reviewing cases of veterans looking to change an unfavorable character of discharge. Veterans who believe that their character of discharge was improper or unfair are encouraged to contact Andrea Jelks at 702-879-8716 

 

Q: How do I check the status of my VA Disability claim?

A: Call the VA Disability Claims Agent who filed your VA disability claim. Our Advocates have access to the same VA  information you request.  Allow up to 24 to 48 hours for a reply. You can also request status by email athombs@VADisabilityAdvocate.com or Text: 702-209-5722. https://www.vadisabilityadvocate.com/status-of-my-VA disability claim

Q: What is the VA's responsibility to you?

A: 

  • Retrieving relevant records from another Federal agency or from a Federal facility, such as a VA medical center or military treatment facility, that you adequately identify and authorize VA to obtain.

  • Provide a medical examination for you, or get a medical opinion, if they determine it is necessary to decide your claim.

  • Make every reasonable effort to obtain relevant records not held by a Federal facility that you adequately identify and authorize VA to obtain. These may include records from State or local governments and privately held evidence and information you tell us about, such as a private doctor or hospital records, or records from current or former employers. (Do not depend on anyone to gather this information for you, you must be vigilant in gathering this information on your own) 

Q: Where can I call for help or immediate assistance with my VA Disability claim status?

A: For general inquiries, please call us toll-free at 1-800-827-1000

 

Q: What type of VA disability claim can I file?

A: You can file a VA disability claim to increase your current disability percentage, file to reopen a previously denied VA disability claim, VA Individual Unemployability, and secondary VA disability claims. 

Q: How long does it take for the VA to make a decision on my VA Disability claim?

A: After receiving your application, your documents will be sent to the VA for processing. Currently, the average time to complete a VA disability claim in 2021 is 183.1 days from submission to the rating decision. The amount of time it takes to complete your VA disability claim depends on the type of VA Disability claim filed, how many injuries or disabilities you VA disability claimed, how complex they are, and how long it takes the VA to collect the evidence needed to decide your VA VA disability claim. I will send you a records review invite once I receive your VA file.

 

Q: What are my chances of a successful VA VA disability claim?

A: This is the VA disability claim formula: Record of Service Injury or Illness + Current Diagnosis and Continued Treatment of The Condition Since Your Separation + A VA C&P Exam Validating the Conditions and Determining The Level of Said Condition = Successful VA disability claim. Anything short of this will cause significant delays in the process of filing your VA disability claim. Gaps in this process must be explained through your statements. 

 

Q: What is the VA disability claim process?

A: The length of time it takes to complete a VA disability claim depends on several factors, such as the type of VA disability claim filed, the complexity of your disability(s), the number of disabilities your VA disability claim, and the availability of evidence needed to decide your VA disability claim. There are eight distinct steps that most VA disability claims for disability compensation follow. These phases may vary in time depending on the complexity of the VA disability claim, the amount of evidence that must be gathered to support the VA disability claims, and the type of evidence. You are strongly encouraged to submit as much evidence as possible with your VA disability claim to help minimize processing time. 

Q: What is Service-Connection?

A: VA is authorized to compensate eligible individuals only for "service-connected" conditions. A service-connected condition is caused by, aggravated by, or the result of, an event during military service or a condition. Disability compensation is a monetary benefit paid to Veterans who are determined by VA to be disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are considered to be service-connected. To be eligible for compensation, the Veteran must have been separated or discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. VA disability claims process

Q:  How do I boost my VA disability claim?

A:  Any physical injury can make it harder to cope; you may have to stop doing hobbies or sports or learn to do them differently. These challenges can affect you emotionally, too. If you believe your condition was caused or aggravated during your service, discuss these conditions with your Dr.; remember, you're your own best witness. Without medical evidence, the VA is clueless about what caused your medical conditions; if you believe it's essential; speak up and discuss it., Your Dr. can help you establish a diagnosis for your condition by referring you to specialty clinics, labs, physical therapy, and testing. 

 

Q: What is a records review?

A: As a part of our VA disability claims process, we review your military medical and personnel records. After we review your military records, you will receive an invitation to schedule an appointment to discuss the contents of your VA C-file. During the meeting, we will also discuss your previous C&P exams and decision letters to develop a plan moving forward, either to file a new VA disability claim or appeal.

 

Q: Why does the VA keep requesting additional information?

A: If you receive a letter from the VA requesting additional information using VA Form 21-4142(a),  You can authorize the release of your private medical records from outside the VA medical network if you believe the information will help support your VA disability claim. If this applies to you, contact me, and I will send you the necessary forms; otherwise, there's no further action required. If you have statements or any other documents that you would like the VA to use, please email them athombs@VADisabilityAdvocate.com

 

Q: What kind of evidence do I need to support my VA disability claim?

A: We strongly encourage you to send any information or evidence within 30 days of the application process. However, you have up to one year to submit the information and evidence necessary to support your VA disability claim. Please send us any treatment records related to your claimed condition(s); these include reports or statements from doctors, hospitals, laboratories, medical facilities, mental health clinics, xrays, physical therapy records, surgical reports, etc. These should include the dates of treatment, findings, and diagnoses. You can email them to athombs@vadisabilityadvocate.com or Fax: 702-948-8716, talk to your VA Disability Advocate before releasing any records to the VA. 

 

Q: What is a Nexus letter?

A: As of 2021, the average cost for a nexus letter is around $1,500 for multiple conditions; however, a nexus letter can cost more or less depending on the provider. If you have strong evidence that your conditions are service-connected, you probably do not need a Nexus Letter. However, you need a letter if you are trying to prove that your condition is secondary to another service-connected condition or if you do not have substantial medical evidence to prove your service connection. 

 

Q: How do I write a statement?

A: A VA Statement in Support of a VA disability claim is a 3-5 paragraph written narrative that details the facts and circumstances of an individual VA disability condition. Personal statements can be compelling in filling in any gaps between your military service and the present day, including things like service treatment records, doctor visits for treatment (or lack thereof), the severity of your symptoms over time, and how your VA disability is negatively affecting your work, life, and social functioning. You should write a statement for each condition. 

 

Q: What is a compensation and pension exam (C&P)?

A: The purpose of the C&P Exam is NOT to convince the examiner that your injury or illness is service-connected but to let them conduct their exam and draw their conclusion. In the end, your current VA disability either is or is not related to your military service. Regardless of what the examiner says, the VA will determine whether or not your condition is related to your military service. 

 

Q: What should I do while I wait for my disability VA disability claim to process?

A: The success of your VA disability claim is based on your participation; veterans who file VA disability claims and fail to follow up with their doctors and their VA Disability Advocates have a complicated path to the disabilities they VA disability claim. Veterans who participate in the process have a higher rate of Approval.

​Q: What is a pre-exam appointment?

A:  This appointment is a review of your pending C&P exam. The purpose is to answer any questions you may have about the process. We do this as a courtesy because we understand that C&P exams can be nerve-racking, and this uncertainty could negatively affect your VA disability claim. We ask our clients to schedule their C&P exams a minimum of 2 weeks out, so they can be placed on the Disability VA Disability AdocateCalendar. Failure to schedule ahead of your exam will limit your chances of discussing the C&P exam.

 

Q: What is a Compensation and Pension Exam C&P?

A: The VA requested an examination through a private medical facility (LHI, QTC, VES) to determine the current level of your disability. Within the next 30-60 days, the private facility will soon advise you of the date, time, and place of this examination. This notification will be in writing, by telephone, or perhaps both. If you can't keep the appointment or want to be rescheduled, contact the medical facility on the appointment notice as soon as possible. When a VA disability claimant, without good cause, fails to report for an examination or reexamination, the VA disability claim shall be rated based on the evidence of record or even denied. Examples of good causes include, but are not limited to, illness or hospitalization, death of a family member, etc.

 

Q: What happens when I complete all my C&P exams?

A: Next, after all your scheduled C&P exams are complete, your VA disability claim will move to ready for decision. There is no time frame for this process; the VA could ask for additional information and order additional C&P exams. Once the VA is satisfied with all the information needed to process your VA disability claim, it will be sent to a decision review officer to finalize your VA disability claim.

 

Q: How do I talk to my primary care doctor?

A: In the past, the patient‐doctor relationship was one‐directional, the doctor typically took the lead, and the patient followed. Today, the association is a partnership. Taking an active role in your healthcare can help you get the best care possible from your doctor.

 

Q: What is VA Unemployability (TDIU), and do I qualify?

A: In some cases, a veteran with less than a 100% scheduler rating is so affected by service-connected conditions that they cannot work at gainful employment. The law allows for another type of VA disability claim in such a case. VA benefits are available to compensate a veteran at the 100% level if they cannot work because of service-connected conditions even without a 100% scheduler rating. This benefit is called "total disability based on individual unemployability" ("TDIU"), or sometimes "individual unemployability" ("IU"). You may qualify If you have at least 1 service-connected disability rated at 60% or more disabling, or 2 or more service-connected disabilities—with at least 1 rated at 40% or more disabling and a combined rating of 70%.

Q: What is a decision letter review?

A:  During the decision review process, we will discuss the result of your VA disability claimed conditions. We'll discuss why the VA decided and what we need to do to challenge the VA decision. We will also discuss any reduction in benefits and underrated conditions. Recommendations from this review are only valuable if you execute the plan; statements, doctors' appointments for updated medical treatment, and diagnosis.

 

Q: How long will it take to receive my completed decision letter?

A: It can take up to 14 days for you to receive your letter; if you haven't received it, don't hesitate to contact your disability advocate.

 

Q: What happens if I fail to appeal my denied disability VA disability claim?

A: If you fail to appeal your denied VA disability claim within a year of denial, the decision will become final. This will cause you to lose your VA disability claim effective date, costing you any potential back pay. Most, unfortunately, you'll have to start over again with new medical evidence, and you will lose all potential for back pay. 

 

Q: How long does it take to appeal a VA disability claim?

A: The Veterans Benefits Administration usually takes 12-18 months to review new appeals and decide whether to grant some or all of the appeals. The amount of time it takes to complete your VA disability claim depends on the type of appeal filed, how many injuries or disabilities you are appealing, how complex they are, and how long it takes the VA to collect the evidence needed to decide your VA disability claimWhen you request a review from a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans' Appeals, it could take 5-7 years for you to get a decision.

 

Q: What is a law judge's Board of Veterans Appeal (BVA) decision?

A: When we have exhausted all local appeal options, the next step is to ask a law judge to review your entire VA disability claim and render a decision. The BVA's support staff, including attorneys and administrative personnel, assist the judges in reviewing all appeals. The BVA will establish the facts and determine if the evidence corroborates the VA disability claims made by the applicant. When you request a review from a Veterans Law Judge, it could take 5-7 years for the board to make a decision. To avoid the 5-7 year waiting period, schedule a decision review appointment so we can discuss your options.

 

Q: Can the VA reduce my benefits?

A: Congress has determined that VA doesn't need to expend resources to check on a VA disability claimant's medical status under certain conditions. As a result, some ratings can become "protected" under certain conditions. A "protected" rating is a VA rating that cannot be reduced or revoked by VA in the future, absent fraud in the application. There are only a few types of protected ratings, and they are all described below. 

 

Q: How do I add my dependents to my VA disability claim?

A: You may be eligible for additional VA disability compensation for a qualified spouse, child, and parent if you have a combined disability rating of at least 30%Download VA Form 21-674 (PDF). You will need to provide the VA with your marriage certificates and birth certificate with your application. You can file online or by calling 1-800-827-1000.

 

Q:  How do I update or change my direct deposit information?

A:  If you receive VA disability compensation, pension, or education benefits from VA, you can update your direct deposit information in your VA.gov profile. You'll need your bank's routing number and account number to make the updates. You can also call 1-800-827-1000

The VA Disability Advocates Main Office is Located in Las Vegas, NV. We Represent Veterans throughout the United States. 702-209-5722