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Five Common Mistakes in VA disability claims

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  28 Comments

veterans-disability-claimsThe process of filing VA disability claims can be very confusing. If you haven’t started the process yourself, you’ve probably heard stories about the problems with delays and mistakes and lengthy appeals. As you make your way through the process, try to avoid these five common mistakes:

1. Putting off the filing of your claim
One of the biggest mistakes is to put off filing a claim. If you’ve been wondering whether you’re eligible, or waiting to see if your symptoms improve – putting off filing a claim could cost you real money. If you receive an award, either with the first decision or on appeal, the benefits will be paid to you retroactive to the date of your original claim.

It works like unemployment benefits. Even though you may be entitled to receive the weekly payments, you must first claim the benefit. Similarly, you must file your claim to your disability benefits. Depending on the type of disability claim you file (a Fully Developed Claim, or a Standard Claim, for example) find out which form starts the clock for eligibility and get that in as soon as you can.

2. Not listing all of your symptoms
A common mistake is to try to name your condition rather than listing each of the symptoms on VA disability claims. The VA is obligated to follow-up on potential conditions that would cause each symptom you have. If multiple conditions are diagnosed, you receive a disability rating for each separate condition, which will then be combined into a single overall rating.

3. Thinking you’re too young; waiting until you’re older
You may think that if you’re young and can move around okay, that you might let the condition go for now. But if that knee injury or broken arm become arthritic later, you might be glad you applied now.

If the condition is recognized but you’re given a 0% rating now, you can still receive benefits later if the condition worsens, and then you’ll already have the service connection established. If the condition only interferes at a 10% level in your life now, that’s still $127 per month that you’re entitled to, which adds up.

4. Failing to pursue mental health claims
While PTSD tends to get a lot of media attention, and the VA has recently relaxed its evidence requirements for PTSD, many veterans may still be hesitant to seek disability benefits for other mental health conditions. There are a lot of other mental health issues that either occur during military service, or are aggravated by it, that entitle veterans to assistance. These conditions include: Depression, anxiety, amnesia, sleep problems, and panic attacks. If you can show a service connection, mental disorders are rated just like physical conditions, depending on the level of social and occupational impairment.

5. Not realizing there are benefits for a secondary disability
Many vets don’t realize that they are entitled to benefits for disabilities that are secondary to their service-connected disability. This is the case when a service-connected injury or illness either causes a new disabling condition, or aggravates a non-service-connected disability.

One example is a service-connected illness of diabetes, which can lead to other illnesses. Even if the secondary illness doesn’t develop until years later, you are still entitled to benefits if medical evidence or opinion can establish the connection. In some cases, the VA disability claims rating for the secondary disability could be at a higher percentage than was the original disability.

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  • Published: 11 months ago on March 3, 2016
  • By:
  • Last Modified: December 5, 2016 @ 7:18 pm
  • Filed Under: Veterans Benefits
  • Billy Thomas

    Hello , I am diagnosed with major depressive disorder post-traumatic stress disorder and some parts of psychosis and schizophrenia I was discharged in 1980 from the military and on my discharge papers my DD-214 at the bottom it says general discharge under honorable conditions under that statement Goodreads apathy / unsuitable over the years I have just looked at my condition and didn’t pay attention to it because I just my emotions have been withdrawn my reasoning to be involved with something or to be concerned with certain things had no energy to it. I felt lifeless and I felt like there was no reason for me to even go on with life I’ve been turned down twice on filing claims for apathy the reason is that apathy is supposed to be a condition which you just don’t give a care or give a damn about anything not true . Ie major depressive disorder schizophrenia anxiety disorder I’ve been turned down twice regarding service-connected disability I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder back in 2007 over all of these years over all of these years I never bothered to look into paperwork to see if apathy coincided with major depressive disorder to which time I did this year and came to find and discovery of it that it does and is part of the symptoms of major depressive disorder as well as post-traumatic stress disorder I need a lawyer seriously need a lawyer who will take my claim over and deal with it through the proper channels so that I could be able to receive my service connected disability of what I experienced while I was in military service . Based upon the fact that they have at the bottom of my DD-214 their own admission that I have what was classified as apathy because it is part of my diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Therefore my DD-214 already States apathy however they only tried to use that word to try and disclaim me but it is part of my condition part of my diagnosis because apathy is a symptom of major depressive disorder as well as post-traumatic disorder as well as schizophrenia as well as anxiety disorder I would like to know if I should be rightly justified in rebelling with a lawyer because I deserve to receive service-connected disability please inform

    • Billy Thomas

      Please disregard the word rebelling I made a mistake putting that in my statement I’m sorry please confirm with me as soon as you have the time or send me a email to read so I know what direction to take this thank you
      Add this to my statement thank you from Bill Thomas

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Billy,

      Please see my response of today to your first post.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Billy Thomas

    Hello, I was discharged in June 1980 from. Fort Polk, La. With a general dischage under honorable conditions. On my DD-214 at the very bottom pay half with my discharge status was given under it it states apathy now I know apathy to mean several things however the incident that occurred at Fort Polk Louisiana for this reasoning that they came up with was one with me and 3 of my other Soldier friends were traveling from South Fort Polk

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Billy,

      Assuming you have not filed a formal appeal, you can still do so if it is filed within one year of the date of the VA’s denial of benefit letter to you. If it is a timely appeal, you may want to consider having an accredited VA lawyer review the claim denial to determine if there is grounds for an appeal.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • william richardson

    I believe I am eligible for a higher special monthly but was denied for reasons non service connected condition I don’t think it’s complex by its new an attorney thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear William,

      I think that there are some typographical errors in the ending of your post so that what you are asking is not clear. Please re-post if you have a question.

      Thank you,
      Kay

  • kwon mcmillan

    Hello
    I currently have patella spur VA disability of 10% but files a claim for secondary injury for left knee, right hip, and VA denied and said no evidence that it incurred while in service. What is needed to show current disability caused left knee arthritis and possible arthritis of hips?

    Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kwon,

      First you will need to provide evidence that your left knee and right hip injury were incurred in military service. If you cannot produce a military medical record or military administrative record of these secondary injuries, you are not going to be able to get the VA to rule in your favor. Secondly, you need to show that there is nexus (linkage) of those in-service injuries to your current medical diagnoses.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jeffrey

    Need help on my va disability appeal for my records shoulder and r index finger

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jeffrey,

      I suggest you check the VA website at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/ for an accredited attorney located in your zip code.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • donnie

    Its sad veteran endure heartache and abuse. I served aboard an air craftcarrier love my navy career.. I was rape abandon and process out of the navy from a mental ward into civilian’s no honar straggler post

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donnie,

      If you have a question, please post it and I will send it on to a VA attorney for response.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • I would greatly appreciate your advice on how to appeal my claim. Recently,(4/16/16) I was denied for Fibromialgia and PTSD with anxiety and depression along with some female problems… Even though, I submitted supported evidence from VA and Private Doctor’s medical records, DBQ and a Doctor Letter, plus I’m taking medication that the VA issued me. I gave them proof I was in a Combat Zone during the Gulf War year 91&92. A lot of my Illness fall under Persumetive Illness…
    In their denial letter they stated” while you submitted positive evidence to support your claim. We ( VA) found other medical evidence more persuasive because it is better supported in its rationale and conclusions”.
    Sincerely,
    Tina

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tina,

      The regulations dealing with VA claims is more than 2,000 pages. As a result, the claim process is complex. It involves both a medical determination as well as a legal decision. There are multiple avenues to file a response to a claim denial or unfavorable determination. You will be best served by having an accredited VA attorney evaluate the merits of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • I forgot to inform you that I am presently not service connected ( 0% )… Imagine that!!

    • I would greatly appreciate your advice on how to appeal my claim. Recently,(4/16/16) I was denied for Fibromialgia and PTSD with anxiety and depression along with some female problems… Even though, I submitted supported evidence from VA and Private Doctor’s medical records, DBQ and a Doctor Letter, plus I’m taking medication that the VA issued me. I gave them proof I was in a Combat Zone during the Gulf War year 91&92. A lot of my Illness fall under Persumetive Illness…
      In their denial letter they stated” while you submitted positive evidence to support your claim. We ( VA) found other medical evidence more persuasive because it is better supported in its rationale and conclusions”.

      Sincerely,
      Tina

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Tina,

        All VA cases deal with a combination of medical and legal complexities. The best course of action would be to seek out a professional opinion as to the merits of your claim via an accredited VA attorney.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

  • TINA SHELTON says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    APRIL 30, 2016 AT 11:53 AM
    I been fighting VA on and off for 20 years. I am working with the DAV and when we submitted the claim… I would greatly appreciate your advice on how to appeal my claim. Recently, I was denied for Fibromialgia and PTSD with anxiety and depression along with some female problems… Even though, I submitted supported evidence from VA and Private Doctor’s medical records, DBQ and a Doctor Letter, plus I’m taking medication that the VA issued me. I gave them proof I was in a Combat Zone during the Gulf War year 91&92. A lot of my Illness fall under Persumetive Illness…
    In their denial letter they stated” while you submitted positive evidence to support your claim. We ( VA) found other medical evidence more persuasive because it is better supported in its rationale and conclusions”.
    If you feel like I need a Attorney,please advise me of one in Arkansas.

    Sincerely,
    Tina

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tina,

      If you have been fighting your claim for twenty years with no success, this probably means the claim does not meet the threshold of a provable claim or the claim is not supported by the appropriate evidence. So you should give consideration to having an accredited VA attorney review your case file for a determination as to the merits of your claim; and if it has merit, how to best develop a strategy and the necessary medical and legal evidence needed to support your claim contentions.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • James sanders

    I have been trying to get benefits for a few years. I know i have gotten discouraged at times because of the process but i served this country and was hurt. I deserve my benefits. I believe the goverment is waiting for me to die.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      The federal governmental administrative agencies are swamped with claim applications. Within the VA, there are more than 4 million claims filed annually. Each claim is individually reviewed. Most veterans do not understand the claim process. The regulations are more than 2,000 pages. This is a complex type of benefit which takes a skilled professional to understand what is the measure of proof needed. Many veterans attempt to handle the claim pro se (on their own). This is not the best way to go about the claim application process. One should seek the services of an accredited agency or a VA accredited attorney to analyze how best to submit documentation of a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Amanda meneses

    I need help with my claims in the DC area… Filing for an appeal plus new claims.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Amanda,

      I will forward your request to a VA attorney associated with Disability Advisor.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  • I need an appeal lawyer. Will you represent?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cyril,

      I sent a message to Disability Advisor’s attorney representation department with your request and email.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  • Jerry Morgan

    I have been turned down for all three illnesses heart ,diabetes,cancer the KEntucky dept of veterans affairs rep filed an appeal the rep tried to talk me out of filing citing it was near a lost cause I don’t feel her heart is it . I feel she is just going through the motions

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jerry,

      It sounds as if you could use help with your claim. You should obtain an attorney knowledgeable in VA disability claims.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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