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VA DISABILITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (Q&A)

 

 

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 (including "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.

 

Q: What is the VA's Duty to Assist?

A:

  • Retrieve relevant records from another Federal agency or 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 collecting this information on your own.)

 

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 decide on my VA Disability claim?

A: The average time to complete a VA disability claim in 2022 is 183.1 days from submission to the rating decision. The time it takes to complete your VA disability claim depends on the type of VA Disability claim filed, how many injuries or disabilities your VA disability claimed, how complex they are, and how long it takes the VA to collect the evidence needed to decide your 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 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.

 

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.

 

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 doctor.

 

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 doctor 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 to 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, x-rays, 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. Regardless of what the examiner says, the VA will determine whether or not your condition is related to your military service. In the end, your current VA disability is or is not related to your military service.

 

Q: What should I do while I wait for my 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 Advocate Calendar. 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, Optum) to determine the current level of your disability. Within the next 30-60 days, the remote 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,

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

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