Understanding Veterans Disability Benefits

By / March 3, 2016 / Veterans Disability / 197 Comments

This overview of the veterans’ disability benefits program explains the type of military service that qualifies, which medical conditions are eligible, and how benefits are calculated.

Veterans’ are entitled to compensation for disability from an injury or disease that occurred (or was aggravated) during active military service. This applies to partial or full disability, on a scale from 0 – 100% disabled, depending on how much the condition interferes with your normal life functions.

Type of military service
In order to qualify for veterans disability benefits, your injuries or diseases need to have occurred, or been aggravated, during active military service, defined as:

  • active duty, OR
  • active duty for training, OR
  • inactive duty training.

Eligible veterans need to have been discharged or released “under conditions other than dishonorable.”

Eligible medical conditions
Disability payments can be made for both physical and mental health conditions. Two examples provided on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website are:

  • A reservist who injures her knee during physical training – she is entitled to compensation for residual problems from the knee injury.
  • A veteran who served for three years in the Navy, fell and injured his back during active duty — after being honorably discharged, he is entitled to disability benefits for residuals from his back injury.

Compensation is available for a wide range of physical and emotional conditions. These include injuries during boot camp, ringing in the ears from driving a tank, or anxiety since combat experience. Claims and benefits are increasing for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) – the most common mental health disorder from combat.

Benefits available
If you are found to have an eligible condition stemming from military service, you will be rated on a scale from 0 – 100% disabled. If you are at least 10% disabled, you will receive a monthly tax-free payment. The monthly veterans disability benefit currently listed for 100% disability is $2769 for a veteran with no dependents. From this base payment, additional benefits can be available, such as:

  • Additional compensation is paid out for dependents, which can rise to a total of $3285 monthly for full disability.
  • For certain conditions requiring the need of aid and attendance, an additional Special Monthly Compensation may be available.
  • Other benefits – Once disability is established, funds may be available for other types of assistance, such as an automobile allowance, clothing allowance, convalescence, dental, etc.

Be sure to find out all you’re eligible for. There are no age or income requirements to receive benefits, and you can still work if you’re able.

Administration of Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs administers health benefits to veterans. The DVA is the second largest federal agency, next to the Department of Defense. It has two separate health-related divisions:

  1. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) runs the VA medical centers and provides healthcare to veterans. It does not run the disability benefits program.
  2. Veterans Benefits Administration – The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) processes applications for veterans disability benefits.

Usually the two departments have offices in entirely separate facilities and are run separately. For example, a VHA doctor may be treating your service-related condition, but you are not technically a “disabled veteran” until you apply and are approved by the Veterans Benefits Administration.

There are many flaws in the application processing system, including long delays and very high error rates. See our articles for more details on how to apply for Veterans disability benefits:

Understanding Veterans Disability Benefits
2 (40%) 2 votes

  • Dear Jeff,

    If you have been discharged more than 12 months ago, then the date of benefits, if awarded, is the date your new claim was date stamped as being submitted to the VA. There is no retroactive date for benefits otherwise in your situation.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • An assessment cannot be made based upon the summary statement you provided. Each VA compensation claim is unique; that is, each claim stands on its own merits based upon the consideration of all the facts. The only way the claim can be valued is to provide a professional VA claimant’s representative with all medical records and post-discharge records including each medical record for an evaluation. You can get help from organizations like Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, or Veterans of Foreign Wars or from an accredited VA attorney.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Katina,

    You can always file a VA compensation claim, but keep in mind that your condition may only be temporary as a result of the recent surgery. If it is temporary, you claim likely will not be successful. If you think you will have a permanent condition and limitation, it should be evaluated by your doctor. It is possible that it can be rated if the current condition is serious enough to qualify for an increase in rating.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Bill,

    There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

    Your problem will be to prove you had an in-service medical condition which links to a current medical condition. In your question you do not state that you have a current medical condition. So you will need to show the VA that you have a current chronic medical diagnosis and how it links back to that 1986 in-service medical condition. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. You will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • You are welcome.

  • Dear First Last,

    Often people will ask: “Do I have a case?” This question is not structured in a way which can be answered within the meaning of the law. One must ask: “Will benefits be awarded if I can prove the statements I am making?”

    Initially, there is even a problem if one can prove all the statements one is making. This is because the statement(s) made may not be legally sufficient to “make a case.” Any VA claim requires that four elements be proven.

    These elements are (1) the applicant meets the definition of a veteran or in-service requirement, (2) has an in-service medical condition, illness, injury or aggravation of a pre-existing condition, (3) has a current medical diagnosis, and (4) the current condition links back to the in-service medical event.

    But, there are two preliminary factors before a claim is ready for examination. First, a claim must be “plausible” in the context of interpreting the federal legal code, the VA regulations, and court rulings. Plausibility relates to the distinction between a matter being frivolous on its face as compared to a claim which arguably fits a context in which a VA benefit may be allowable. This is the distinction between a frivolous claim and a plausible or meritorious one.

    In your situation, based upon the background information provided, you have a plausible claim. But, meeting the test of plausibility, in itself, is insufficient. A claim needs to be meritorious, and that means a two-part legal process must be met.

    First, using a VA supplied application form, your write out a set of “contentions.” These are the statements you is make in the claim application. Those contentions made must be proven by independent evidence. Hence, evidence and proof of the claim is the second component of the legal process. The contentions the veteran makes are not considered evidence. There must be independent source documentation or corroboration.

    An illustration is helpful. If one states he or she is a veteran, that is a contention which must be proven. One can submit the original DD 214 or a certified copy to support one meets the service requirement element (which is the first element stated above).

    In the final analysis, wanting to know if one has a case is much different than backing up a claim as being meritorious with evidence for all four elements.

    In the context of your situation, it appears that you are not able to provide independent source corroboration of the contentions you made in your application. Speculation as to what potentially may be occurring in your body is not evidence. Your statements are irrelevant standing alone. The VA sent you the letter it did because it knows at least one element needs to be proven which currently you cannot do. As a result, the VA will close out its investigation of your claim. The VA staff will not allow your claim to remain open indefinitely. Rather, it will eventually issue you a claim denial if you do not submit the needed proof.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Albert,

    The VFW is a good place to start. That organization can provide help with completing the forms needed. If you do not obtain a VA rating, then you can consider engaging a VA accredited attorney to file an appeal for you.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Albert,

    You do not meet the general definition of “veteran” because you did not serve for twenty-four months; however, your situation meets one of the exceptions to the twenty-four-month rule. The exception is that you were discharged due to a medical condition. This means that if you can prove that you are disabled and that the disability links to the medical condition you incurred in the military, you could be eligible for compensation benefits.

    Here are the general rules to give you context. A person who served in the military can file for VA compensation benefits. Benefits are available to an eligible veteran. Lay persons toss around the term “veteran,” but according to VA law, “veteran” has a specific definition and eligibility of benefits is subject to the specific definitions and criteria that must be met.

    Definition of a Veteran

    A person must be a veteran in order to receive veterans benefits. (The benefit for a survivor must be linked to someone who was a veteran.)

    • The term “veteran” means “ a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable”.

    • Disability Compensation and DIC are available to reserve and guard members who were not on active duty but sustained injury and certain medical conditions from active duty for training and injury from inactive duty for training.

    Requirements for Receiving VA Benefits

    There are six (6) criteria for a person who served in the Armed Forces to be eligible for VA benefits:

    Must meet definition of a veteran or considered a veteran
    Must meet active duty requirements
    Must meet the period of active duty service requirements
    Service-connected disabilities cannot be a result of willful misconduct
    Pension is not available if discharge was due to willful misconduct
    Must have received a discharge other than dishonorable discharge

    In your situation, the issue is whether or not you meet the period of active duty service requirements.

    Length of Service Criteria for Veteran Status

    For people who enlisted prior to September 8, 1980, no minimum length of service is necessary to be considered a veteran for most VA benefits. However, certain minimum length of service requirements apply to people who enlisted on or after September 8, 1980. The general requirement is the “full period” for which the service member was called or ordered to active duty or, if less, 24 months of continuous months active duty.

    Several exceptions exist to this rule. For example, service-connected disability compensation benefits are exempt from the length of service requirement. Thus, a veteran with a disease or injury incurred during active service generally may receive service-connected compensation for that disability. Other exceptions to the minimum service requirements include claims for VA life insurance benefits, hardship discharges, and persons retired or separated from service because of a service-related disability. This last qualifying circumstance could apply to you.

    If the former service member did not serve for the full period of active duty and served less than 24 months, and none of the statutory exceptions apply, then the veteran did not complete a minimum period of active duty and is “not eligible for any benefit under Title 38, United States Code or under any law administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs based on that period of active service.”

    Now that you know that you can qualify as a veteran based on having been discharged due to an injury, to receive compensation benefits, you will also need to present an argument that you currently have a disabling or partially disabling condition that is chronic and that stems from the injury incurred on active duty.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • John D

    While leaving the military in 1990 as I was going through all the paperwork with the personnel department I was asked if I wanted to file a claim for my disability, they informed me my eyesite had worsened while serving. Being 23 years old and ignorant at the time and fearing employability in the future I declined. Would I still be able to apply for that today? Or even should I?

    • Dear John,

      There is no time limit as to when a veteran can file a claim. The main issue is when benefits would be effective. The VA does not award benefits retroactively in your situation. If you were to be successful in obtaining a compensation rating, it would be effective as of the date your application was filed with the VA.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Sme Allme,

    The short answer is “Yes”. VA compensation is treated as income by the VA. The benefit is paid to the veteran for the support of that veteran.

    On the other hand, the VA dependency benefit may be received and managed by the veteran as the natural guardian for a dependent. But, the dependency compensation is not paid for the benefit of the veteran. It is paid for the dependent’s needs. The benefit is to be used for the support and maintenance of that dependent. That is why it is not treated as income of the veteran for VA pension.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Rommel,

    Your existing employment is not a consideration in a VA compensation claim. “Compensation” as a term means that a service member is being reimbursed for a chronic illness, injury ,or medical disability which impacts the veteran’s life currently and that that impact resulted from an in-service medical event. You need to prove that your current ailments are related to an in-service medical event.

    This concept is akin to being awarded a stream of income for pain and suffering or a deficit which is ongoing. For example, nothing will make up for the loss of a limb due to a combat wound. But, there are many veterans who lost a limb and are employed full time in civilian life and receive compensation.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Tyronne,

    You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. Your situation describes plausibility. There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

    It appears you are able to make a good argument for a VA compensation claim if you document it correctly. You will need to show the VA both your current medical problem and how it links back to that medical injury incurred in the service. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. Also, I suggest you obtain a medical expert opinion stating that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames

  • Dear Feet Hurt,

    A veteran can always submit a new claim. The issue is whether or not that claim has merit. Plantar fasciitis is a correctable medical condition that can be treated with physical therapy. To be an actionable VA compensation claim, the medical condition must have chronicity. This means the medical diagnosis must last for at least 6 months in duration. You will need to have an independent physician conduct a medical evaluation to document the degree of disability which you have and the chronicity of that medical condition. Once you obtain this medical opinion, then you can evaluate the merits of filing a new claim with the VA.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Claudia,

    You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. Your situation describes plausibility.

    There are four basic things you must prove for your husband’s problems. (1) Your husband has a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) Your husband incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of his current medical condition to an in-service medical event and (4) that he is a veteran.

    Thus, it appears your problem will be to prove your husband had an in-service medical condition or event which links to a current medical condition. In your question you do not state that you have a current medical diagnosis. You only state he has symptoms of a problem. So you will need to show the VA both the current medical problem and how it links back to an in-service medical injury. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your husband’s in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. In the alternative, you will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Anthony,

    You need to provide evidence to the VA of an actual medical event, illness, injury or aggravation of a prior medical problem.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Anthony,

    You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

    Thus, it appears your problem will be to prove you had an in-service medical condition or event. So you will need to show the VA that you have in-service medical records as to your symptoms of anxiety and insomnia during boot camp. Also, you will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Glen,

    The real question in your situation is whether or not medical malpractice was done those many years ago when you had the surgeries performed. Either there was malpractice or the doctors performed the surgeries within the standard of care available in your community at that time .

    Unfortunately, even taking into account the best surgeon and state of the art techniques, not all surgeries result in making the person whole again. Surgical outcomes are approximate at best and not all surgeries provide us with the outcomes we would want. Accordingly, you might or might not have a viable malpractice suit even if the surgery had occurred recently and not many years ago.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Scott,

    MST and PTSD are considered two separate VA compensation disabilities. PTSD can result from MST but the VA has carved out a separate claim for MST cases. You should consult with an accredited VA attorney in your community to help you with your claim. You can obtain a list of accredited attorneys on the VA website.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Scott,

    When a VA compensation claim is filed, the veteran makes a written statement of assertions. The assertions that one makes are matters that must be proven by independent evidence. The veteran’s statement, in itself, is not proof. No statement from the veteran will be sufficient in itself. One must submit medical records showing an in-service medical event. For example, one must have a military document or record proving that the medical event occurred in-service. You need a hospital record, physician report, emergency room bill or similar evidence dated back at the time of your service.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear DJ,

    You have not provided enough information for me to respond. If you would like to post your question again with more detailed information about your situation, I will try to reply.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear DJ,

    A veteran has an unlimited right to file a claim with the VA. There is no limitation on how many times a veteran can file a claim or on the timing of when a new claim can be filed. There is no so-called statute of limitation. Each claim is reviewed based on the evidence submitted by the veteran for that claim or based upon the military and VA records which are available as part of the claim development process.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

    • DJ kansas

      I didn’t mean beer question. How’s about a better question. ..

  • Dear Michael,

    You have a plausible claim. So you can file a new claim with the VA. A not-for-profit VA agency can help you to fill out the claim paperwork. I suggest you contact your local VFW, American Legion, or similar veteran’s club for free assistance.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Jonathan,

    Length of time since you received an injury is not a consideration in filing a VA compensation claim. You must prove four basic elements to successful:

    (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

    Thus, it appears your problem will be to prove you had an in-service medical condition or event, which links to a current medical condition. You will need to show the VA both your current medical problem and how it links back to an old in-service medical injury. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. In the alternative, you will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Unanimous Consent,

    Ringing in your ears is tinnitus. For a claim to be actionable, you must have a chronic disability. Chronicity means the tinnitus must be persistent and long lasting, which is defined as lasting for six months. If the ringing comes and goes it will probably not meet the chronicity test. You will need to have your ears checked for a hearing loss by a private physician or hearing specialist for a diagnosis. If the evaluation shows chronicity or hearing loss you might consider filing a VA compensation claim. The fractured ankle if linked to a current medical disability would be an actionable claim. But, you will need to find the in-service records or have the VA find them for you to prove the claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Timberghost,

    You have a plausible claim. You should seek the services of a non-profit veterans charity to help you file a proper claim. The maximum rating possible is a 10% rating for a diagnosis of tinnitus. You will need specific medical records to be able to prove this contention.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Ralph,

    Some in-service accidents, injuries or illnesses may be unreported. There may be no in-service medical reports documenting the medical event. In a situation where there are no medical reports, it is the burden of the veteran to prove that the medical event occurred in-service. Further, the veteran must establish sufficient evidence that the existing disability was due to that unreported accident, injury or illness. This is a difficult burden of proof. It will not always be possible to be issued any VA benefit award for these kinds of cases. A sworn statement by the veteran is not acceptable unless accompanied by other evidence. So-called “buddy statements” can be evidence. But, a buddy statement will need to be considered with all other written documentation of the in-service medical event.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Laura,

    You need to have a plausible claim to file an application for benefits. Your situation describes plausibility. There are four basic things you must prove. (1) You have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or condition. (2) You incurred an in-service medical condition or illness. (3) There is linkage of your current medical condition to your in-service medical event and (4) that you are a veteran.

    It appears your problem will be to prove you meet the test of being a “veteran” within the meaning of your service record. The VA has specific rules that apply to your situation where you were released from service during your initial entry.

    Also you need to prove that you had an in-service medical condition or event which links to a current medical condition. So you will need to show the VA both your current medical problem and how it links back to that 2005 medical injury. You will need to provide the VA with a copy of your in-service medical records showing treatment while on active duty for this issue. In the alternative, you will need to obtain a medical expert opinion that your current medical condition links back to an in-service event.

    I suggest you contact a local office of a veteran’s non-profit organization such as the American Legion, the Disabled America Veterans, or similar charity. Those organizations can help you sort out your eligibility for filing a claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Sam,

    Marfan Syndrome is a genetic condition. As such it is not a disorder which is a medical condition for which a rating will be granted. There can be narrow exceptions as covered in this answer.

    There are some conditions that do not qualify for VA Disability. This could be because they are not considered service-connected, they existed prior to service (EPTS), they do not significantly limit the overall functioning of the service member or make them Unfit for Duty, they are caused by natural causes, or they are caused by a person’s own bad decisions.

    These conditions and any symptoms they cause do not qualify for Military Disability Benefits and so cannot be given Military Disability Ratings. These conditions cannot be rated in any way, in any circumstances, unless there is a specific exception which applies. This is the case even if the condition is caused by another condition that is ratable.

    Congenital conditions are conditions that occur at birth or within the first month after birth. Hereditary and genetic conditions are natural physical developments based on genetics that would occur no matter the circumstances of a person’s life.

    Some examples include:
    – Developmental defects
    – Physical birth defects (missing, deformed, or extra body parts/organs)
    – Being too tall or short ( gigantism, dwarfism)
    – Vision defects (must occur before joining the military to not be ratable), like refractive error
    – Genetic or inherited diseases

    Congenital, hereditary, and genetic conditions are not ratable, merely because they cannot be caused by military service. They can, however, be worsened by military service. If a hereditary or genetic condition is worsened by military service (“service-aggravated”), it can be rated. Some genetic conditions will not develop until later in life. If a genetic condition develops while a service member is in the military, it is automatically assumed service-aggravated, and thus ratable, unless it can be definitely proven that it would have developed at the exact same time and to the exact same degree outside of the military.

    EXCEPTION: If the service member is on active duty for 8 years or more, all congenital, hereditary, genetic and EPTS conditions are service-connected and thus ratable.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Sam,

    There are some conditions that do not qualify for VA Disability. This could be because they are not considered service-connected, they existed prior to service (EPTS), they do not significantly limit the overall functioning of the service member or make them Unfit for Duty, they are caused by natural causes, or they are caused by a person’s own bad decisions.

    These conditions and any symptoms they cause do not qualify for Military Disability Benefits and so cannot be given Military Disability Ratings. These conditions cannot be rated in any way, under any circumstances, unless there is a specific exception which applies. This is the case even if the condition is caused by another condition that is ratable.

    Congenital conditions are conditions that occur at birth or within the first month after birth. Hereditary and genetic conditions are natural physical developments based on genetics that would occur no matter the circumstances of a person’s life.

    Sincerely
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Niccole,

    It is impossible to provide you with a realistic answer since each VA claim is unique based upon a consideration of a claimant’s entire VA claim file. As you probably realize, your “C-file” (your VA claim file) can be hundreds if not several thousand pages of documentation.

    Although a C & P (compensation & pension) examination is one factor to consider, there are many other elements which the VA decision maker considers in reaching a VA rating decision. When the VA makes a rating decision, it is not made by a medical professional such as a physician. Rather, the decision maker is not required to have any medical background. Typically, one non-medical rater makes the decision.

    When performing a rating evaluation, the rater considers all evidence associated with the claim. This includes service medical records, VA medical exam records, clinical summaries from VA medical centers, and evidence provided from private sources such as the veteran’s treating physician.

    The rater’s job is to interpret medical records in deciding if the medical evidence is sufficient enough to result in either a favorable or unfavorable decision. First, the medical evidence must show the disabling condition can be rated and that is ongoing and not acute (temporary). Second, medical evidence from service records or evidence of duty assignment or statements from others or corroborative history must show that an illness or injury that could have resulted in the current condition was incurred in service. Third, the medical evidence must tie together that there is a link established between the current chronic disability of the claimant and the illness or injury or exposure that occurred in service.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Milton,

    It is possible that you might be able to make claims for two or more medical disabilities. Your situation is dependent upon your locating medical records to prove you have a current disability and that your current medical diagnosis is a result of an in-service connection medical event.

    First you may have a claim dealing with chemical exposures as to your diabetes and/or thyroid disorder. Also you may have a medical malpractice claim, which is known in VA-speak as a Section 1151 claim. A Section 1151 claim, named after the United States Code that describes it, is akin to a medical malpractice claim, where proof is dependent upon professional medical records and medical expert opinions.

    If a non-service-connected disabling condition is caused by or aggravated by a VA or military examination, hospital care, or medical treatment, then a veteran may file a claim and potentially receive benefits for that condition as though the condition were service-connected.

    Evidence for this type of claim must be a medical record from a hospital, medical clinic or organizational record establishing the disability, and its nature and cause. It is difficult to establish proof of a claim based solely upon a veteran’s personal testimony or that of a witness. A veteran should seek professional assistance for a Section 1151 Claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Yaya,

    When a veteran files a claim, the applicant makes a series of contentions in the VA claim application. “Contentions” are the allegations which the veteran makes providing details and background information as to why one believes that compensation benefits should be paid.

    The filing of an application is just the starting point. The contentions made in and of themselves are not considered proof. There must exist independent evidence. In other words, what the veteran states is disregarded if there is not proof.

    When an application is filed and accepted as being a plausible claim, the VA will set up a claim file. That claim file will be directed to a Predetermination Unit. This stage in the claim process means that at least three VA teams, each consisting of up to five persons, will review the claim. The Predetermination Unit will begin to collect military records in support of the contentions made by the veteran, analyzing the application and seeking to find the veteran’s appropriate military records, military medical records, and military administrative records. The VA will request that the veteran help find these records in many situations. If there is little or no supporting evidence, then ultimately the claim will be denied.

    How a layperson reads a VA determination letter is often not what the VA means by its denial letter. A VA denial letter is steeped in VA-speak. What a veteran thinks particular words, phrases and sentences mean usually is not what the VA means. It takes a skilled VA accredited attorney to interpret a VA letter.

    This background is preliminary to your question to the Disability Advisor. Now, let discuss your question. Your first sentence makes the underlying implication that the VA made a determination of fact that an injury you say you incurred in basic training was a pre-existing injury. In the context of your question, this is probably the reason why the VA denied your claim. The VA Predetermination Unit probably found that the injury was pre-existing because it did not have in its possession any military record proving you injured yourself in basic training or alternatively that a pre-existing injury was aggravated in basic training. This is the heart of your problem.

    Since your case has been elevated to an administrative law judge review, it is important that you seek a professional opinion and/or assistance from a VA accredited lawyer who specializes in VA claims. Without professional advice, it will be difficult for you as a layperson to win a compensation claim.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Milton,

    It looks as if your post was cut off. Please post again to include the questions.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Richard,

    The VA offers many therapeutic approaches to PTSD patients. The most successful interventions are cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. A frequent therapeutic option for mildly to moderately affected patients is group therapy. For acute PTSD cases, VA physicians have developed alternative early intervention therapies.

    The starting point is for the VA to conduct an evaluation of the nature of a veteran’s PTSD and then to determine if the disability is mild, moderate or acute. Therapy programs are built around this evaluation. Since most PTSD cases are mild to moderate, the VA starts the PTSD patient with monthly visits in which medication is prescribed. If you believe that the treatment you are receiving is not helping you, you could ask to have a re-evaluation of the level of treatment you need.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dear Matthew,

    Without reviewing the complete determination an evaluation cannot be made of your inquiry. You will need to show the VA determination letter granting you either a rating or an allowance to an accredited VA agency or attorney. I suggest you start out by contacting a non-profit veterans group such as the American Legion or the Disabled American Veterans, who can answer your inquiry free-of-charge.

    Sincerely,
    Craig L. Ames
    Accredited VA Attorney

  • Dee

    Hello, I was in the regular army for 8 years. In basic I suffered chin splits. In 1984 thru 1986 I went on sick call after our pt run. I would go on sick call for upper and lower extremities pain, foot pain, knees pain, hip pain, popping right hip. Chin splits, a few times for severe back strains from lfting 50lb boxes for our computer printer. Neck pain and sinus problems. I couldn’t complain to much i was just promoted to E5 I had to set an example at my new duty station. I got out in 1988. I was told at my exit interview that once my pregnancy was over which was in 2 months then. we will have nothing else to do with you. I realized now although his statement was true I had no idea that there was a VA. I was told by anther vetetan in 2004. I started my treatment then. I went because I was hurting all over I was feeling death sick. I was treated an given a blood test after my primary care referred me to a Rheumatologist he told me that I didnt have Rheumatoid Arthritis well I found out in 2010 that my lab work showed all signs of Ra. So in 1984 thru 1986 I showed sighs of Ra or something. In 2004 lab test reveal Ra also in 2010 lab work shows Ra. I hurt with pain and bad feeling, joint pain is all there. 2016 lab shows only slightly elevated. My back needs surgery l4l5 rod and screws. Do I have claim? I was a. recuiter for Georgia Army National guard i went on sick call for back and upper extremities in 2004. PLEASE a response would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Dee,

      To file a VA claim, the contentions must be plausible. “Plausible” means you have a good faith belief that injuries were incurred in-service. A plausible claim does not mean that you have a provable claim. A provable claim means that independent proof is needed that (1) you incurred an in-service injury, (2) you have a current diagnosis of a medical illness or injury, and (3) that there is linkage between your current medical diagnosis with that in-service medical condition.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Lis

    Hello, I am in the Air National Guard. While one active duty orders I tore my labrum while running during duty hours for the PT test. I received an LOD, had medical care and surgery. The LOD was closed. Fast forward to now, 5 years later. I have been having hip pain since the original incident but it got to the point in which is became intolerable. I have learned that I have bone spurs and labrum issues along with other problems with my hip again that stem from the original injury. Because I do not have a current LOD the medical unit in the Guard medical is saying that I have to file a claim through the VA in order to get lost wages for all the time off work for appointments and another surgery. I spoke with a VSO and they are stating I have to go through the guard for lost wages since I am still in. There seems to be a disconnect. Can you please advise what the proper action is?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lis,

      A VA claim can be filed only if you meet the current definition of “veteran as set forth by the VA. So the initial question is whether a current member of the national guard is a veteran or not. I suggest going to the VA office and requesting a review of this issue before filing a VA claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • During basic training in 2001-2002 I was assaulted by a drill Sargent. While I was standing the DS reached around and chopped me in the throat to the point where I lost breath, feel to me knees, and began vomiting. Many witnesses seen it happened, and in a later date he was secretly turned in. He was kicked out of the unit, and demoted because of it. From the day he struck my neck I always had a lingering pain from my neck, scapular area, and left shoulder. Last year I went threw left side rotator cuff surgery to fix a torn muscle. I believe it tore that day from the impact of his chop to my kneck causing my neck to also contour in a violent manner, therefore over extending the rotator cuff muscles that tore. This same drill sergeant was also under a investigation in regards to a incident in the training bay. He instructed the entire platoon, after lunch chow, to fill both of our canteens of water and go to the training bay. While in the training bay he then told us to drink all of the water in one of the canteen. A few minutes later he had us drink all the water from the second canteen. A few seconds passed and multiple people started to vomit, including myself. It was a chain reaction, and it was to the point that almost every soldier in that bay vomitted on the floor. The DS then began to smoke us in our own vommit for about 45 min. We rolled around, did push ups, stomped, jumped, Sat, jumping jacks, etc in our own vommit. It was unbearable, and probably the worst experience of my life till this day. I still fear those with authority, and my career in the army may have suffered from my experience in basic training. I have PTSD from my experience from boot camp, and I’ve had horrible aging back and neck problems since basic. How, where, and can I apply for a percentage from the VA?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear David,

      I suggest you seek the help of a non-profit veterans group such as the Disabled American Veterans or the American Legion for assistance in filing a claim. You can obtain free services there.

      The difficult part is to prove the compensation claim for a disability rating and receive benefits. This claim process can take years. You can shorten the time if you establish all the proof necessary to prove the claim on your own. This means you need to seek the services and pay for medical evaluations and tests as well as medical opinion letters at your own expense.

      On the other hand, if you leave the proof of your claim up to the VA, it will generally takes years for your claim to be fully developed by the VA.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Josh Schultz

    Hi my names josh I’m active duty army and got a couple questions. I injured my ankle a few months back I’ve been in over a year now I just got surgery to repair all ligaments and clean out bone fragments and cartridge. I also have to have another surgery for anyone graph on my talus bone in the ankle. The surgeon said eventually I’m gonna have to have a full ankle replacement. My ankle isn’t as flexible or strong the doctor said I’m gonna have to get a desk job on the outside something putting hardly any pressure on it. My commander is telling me I’m gonna get medically discharged soon. Will I be compensated for this and if so how much. Will it cover expenses like my car payment or rent at least?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Josh,

      The Disability Advisor deals with VA claims rather than claims for disability discharge for active military members. You need to inquire if you are going to obtain a medical discharge involving a disability payment from the branch of the armed forces in which you serve.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Rich

    I was in the Army from 94 to 97, I injured my knee at the end of basic training, and then experienced lower back problems.. and was seen from time to time to treat the back pain. from that point i was on a PT Profile for my entire enlistment and never ran another mile , and given MOTRIN to ease the pain and inflammation. this went on for 3yrs, I was then faced with a medical hardship for my mother and granted a medical discharge (Honorable) and never given a exit physical, I just filed a compensation claim and was wondering how much if any will be granted?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Rich,

      A VA claim is easy to file but it is difficult to receive a rating and benefit award. You must prove that you have a current diagnosis of a medical disability. Also, you must have proof that the current disability is an aggravation of a medical event incurred in-service and that there is linkage between you current diagnosis with the injury incurred in-service. Often the types of claims you describe are denied in whole or in part. And it can take years for a written determination letter on your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Daniel Campolla

    I hurt my lower back doing squats while in the Marine Corps but never told my corpsman about it nor never saw a Dr. for fear of getting NJP’d so there is no medical proof of it happening while in the service. I never brought it up to my va Dr. when I first got out because I was more worried with claiming my knee surgery at the time. I have been having problems with my back since I got out and recently reaggrivated it pretty bad. My question is am I able to still claim my lower back with no kind of medical proof even though it did happen while I was in service.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Daniel,

      One major contention a veteran must prove is that an original injury was incurred in-service. The veteran’s statement of an in-service injury is not sufficient by itself. That statement is not recognized as proof. The veteran needs the contention to be supported by independent written documentation of that injury, usually medical records, though sometimes statements from fellow servicemen who were present when the injury occurred will suffice. That is the starting point of a claim. Without this some proof of an in-service injury, it will be impossible to secure a benefit award.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • David

    My situation is a little backwards. I was discharged from the Army in 2006 after having 2 ACL replacements with near total meniscus removal. Initially the Army rated my knee condition at 0% and so did the VA. There were several mistakes in both ratings of my knee and at the time I did not pay any attention to it because I received a 70% rating with my non-severance conditions and they have since then risen to currently 100%. (not P&T). I did however file a claim with the PDBR and was graciously upgraded to 10% from DoD. (they still didn’t rate that correctly either but there is nothing that can be done about that) I did receive severance pay from the Army and because the VA rated me at 0% they have not recouped any of that severance so far. They tried last year but I was able to correct them before it started. To make a long story short, my question is do I now appeal the VA’s initial 0% rating as a clear and unmistakable error in order to have at least a 10% rating equal to what the PDBR found. This would then make my initial rating 10% retro active back to 2006 in order for that to be applied to my recoupment amount. I hope that wasn’t too confusing? Thank you!

    • David

      Me again…the reason I ask is because there will be a day that I have to have a complete knee replacement and I do not want my initial disability rating to be at such a higher percentage if at all possible because the amount deducted from my compensation will be based upon the “initial” rating. Once I have that surgery the rating will probably be a minimum of 30% and the VA would then recoup at the higher percentage because they gave me 0% to start. Again..I hope that isn’t so confusing…Thanks

      David

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear David,

        A CUE (Clear and Unmistakable Error) is a special type of error. It is a claim for revision of a previous denial. It can be filed at any time, even years or decades after the claim was decided or the appeal denied.

        A CUE exists when: (1) either the correct facts were not before the adjudicator or the statutory or regulatory provisions in existence at the time were incorrectly applied; and (2) the error is “undebatable;” and (3) the error must make a difference in the outcome. In other words, a CUE is not a disagreement with a decision or an argument that VA got it wrong.

        In your situation the VA did not deny your claim. The VA determined that you had a disability but that it was not rounded up to a 10% or more rating. In effect the VA granted your claim for disability but the award did not result in a benefit because the rating was not at least 10%.The second part of your post seems to be moot.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear David,

      This is a matter for a discussion with the administrative office of the branch in which you served on active duty. This question does not deal with a matter for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Henry Jackson

    Hello,
    I have a question I was shot when I was off duty and the military did their investigation and found it was in the line of duty. I retired now but is having problems with the injuries I received due to it, still have the bullet in my leg. Will the VA take look if I put a claim in?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Henry,

      You can file a VA compensation claim. The VA will process the claim for you. It would be helpful if you have a current medical report by a physician detailing your current medical issue and how that issue results in a clear cut disability.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • James

    I was injured during training and put through a PEB. I was put on the TDRL with a 40% rating and issued a retired military I’d. I was rated with the VA as 100% IU. Later my rating was dropped to 20% because they changed the code from a muscle injury code to a pain code and I was separated out with 20%. Does my 100% IU change with the VA now?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      Your inquiry cannot be answered without a review of all your claim records and award letters from the VA. I suggest you make an appointment with a VA accredited professional to review all the documentation related to your VA claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Robert

    Hi I served in the USAF from 78-84 and during duty in Germany 80-83 I injured my knee while running to stay in shape. I was out of work for about a week. Back during this time frame they did not have a mri and only took x-rays and wrapped my knee. I continue to have knee issues and do not know if I should apply for benefits.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robert,

      A veteran always has a right to submit a claim for VA benefits. It is a matter of proving a medical injury in service and linking that injury to a current proven medical disability.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • David

    I am honorably separated from the US Air Force and have 9.5 yrs of AD service. I received separation pay for my years of active service. I am about to transfer into the Traditional ANG to serve my last 10+ yrs for retirement. I have a service connected disability rating of >50% and am receiving disability monthly VA compensation. I am also applying for a federal civil service GS position. My questions are: 1. How does the VA compensation affect my ANG pay and/or federal service pay?
    2. Will I be able to use my Traditional ANG time towards my federal service retirement, considering I received separation pay?
    3. Or, what are my options for retirement given my circumstances?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear David,

      The Disability Advisor provides basis answers to VA compensation and pension benefit claims. I am unable to answer employment-related questions dealing with the interrelationship of military law, veterans administration laws, and federal governmental and private industry benefits. You will need to contact an employment specialist or attorney who can review your situation with you and/or contact each of the paying agencies for information.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Sarah

    My husband experienced a spinal injury while in boot camp in 1995. He was only there for a few weeks, but prior to that incident had normal health. After years of pain and doctor visits and epidural blocks and MRIs, we finally reached out to the VA to obtain his boot camp medical records. Initial medical evaluation showed he was in good health, but we have very clear documentation of his spinal injury while he was there. At this point in his life, the only other suggestion for pain management is to have a spinal fusion. His current doctors attribute all of this to his boot camp injury. He remembers being told when he was discharged that since he didn’t complete boot camp, he wasn’t eligible for any benefits. I find this incredibly frustrating given that in 16 years of marriage I have watched him suffer daily from an injury he received in boot camp. I read somewhere else that there was a 180 day “rule” to be eligible for benefits. Is that true? His separation code was JFW, although he never had any problems before enlisting. Should he file a claim?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sarah,

      To be eligible to submit a claim, a member of the US Armed Forces must qualify as a “veteran.” It appears from the context of your statements in your email that you husband may have been a reservist. If so, your husband would not be eligible because reservists serve less than 180 days of and do not meet the definition of “veteran.” that said, there are many classifications of service in the armed forces, so you might want to obtain a legal opinion regarding whether your husband does or does not meet the definition of a “veteran.”

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Eric

    I enlisted in the USMC July 1990 with a waiver for asthma as a child . I developed pneumonia while at the School of Infantry and was hospitalized for several days at the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton. I returned to training after hospitalization, but could not breathe during moderate to strenuous exercise. After numerous visits with doctors and specialists, I was honorably discharged for a physical disability existing prior to enlistment as determined by a medical board in March 1991. I was not rated for a disability due to the determination that the disability pre-rated my enlistment.

    With all of this said, do I have sufficient grounds to file for VA disability compensation?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Eric,

      One always has the right to file a VA claim, but the filing of a claim does not guarantee benefits will be granted. Based on your statements, it appears you had a pre-existing condition, and it is on that basis that your claim will be evaluated. In all probability you have a life-long genetic or childhood disorder that may possibly disqualify your claim. Just because you had an episode in-service does not mean that a disorder arose out of military service.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • G Man

    I was honorably discharged for alcohol rehabilitation failure in 1993. It has plagued me ever since. I am eligible for any kind of compensation, disability, or getting into the VA health care.

    Thanx

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear G Man,

      That is a broad question. The VA laws are complex. Think of VA laws as a basket of benefits. There are disability income benefits (known as pension and compensation benefits), there are medical benefits, educational benefits, insurance benefits, loan benefits, aid and assistance relief, and others. I suggest you visit the local VA office nearest where you live for discuss specifics. Most major metropolitan cities have a VA Branch Office. In the alternative, you can visit your local post of American Legion or the DVA for free consultation regarding benefits you might be eligible for.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • William Nott

    So I was in Basic Training for 11C (Infantry/Mortar). A few days before my last PT test I injured my arm and me legs in a pretty bad fall. I was taken to medical. They gave me pain medicine and sent me back. Never gave me an x-ray. I was in too much pain and could not complete the PT test. They gave me a general discharge when I should have gotten a medical discharge. At any rate my arm is fine now but my legs continue to hurt and feels like there is no synovial membrane left between my left knee mostly. It has been a couple years out and the only reason I am asking is because I was told by a group of wounded warriors that if you were hurt in any aspect that you will get some sort of benefit for going through this daily. Is there anyone that can confirm or deny this? Thank you in advance.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear William,

      You may receive VA compensation benefits if it can be proven that (1) you have a current medical diagnosis of a disability, not just a medical problem but a problem that is causing a disability; (2) that you had a medical event in-service, and (3) that there is linkage between the in-service event and the current disability.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • James Cullinan

    I was discharged from the army with 10% disability for fallen arches in my feet after 2 years of service in 1977. I was given a severance pay. Do I qualify for any additional pay?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear James,

      You need to think about a different issue rather than the one question you raise. That issue is whether or not you have an aggravation of an injury suffered in-service which now has created a diagnosis of a disability greater than your existing award of benefit. You need to explain how your in-service medical issue of fallem arches produces a greater medical disorder now and how the current increased disorder links back to that earlier in-service diagnosis.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • steve fromme

    I was just awarded a 10% rating for tinnitus, ringing in bith ears that started in USMC boot camp and also my mos while i was emlisted. This was on April of 1991. Will i receive back pay to that time or just the time since my claim was files

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Steve,

      VA benefits are paid from the date the claim application was filed and accepted by the VA.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Brant

    I had Surgery on my right wrist before I left basic do to a injury occurred on the leadership course. I received a letter stating that I am receiving 0% for the surgery but I am getting 10% for back pain but it is degenerative disk disease in my lower spine I have tried talking to almost everyone one I can find but never get a response. If some one can help me figure out if there is something I can do because I go day to day at work almost falling to the floor with the lose of feeling in my legs.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brant,

      The context of your question is somewhat confusing because you start out by stating you had a right wrist surgery. Yet, your claim, as I understand it, deals with your back and not your wrist. I am unclear why you are referring to your wrist which has healed and has nothing to do with your leg.

      First, do not co-mingle your healed wrist condition with your leg. The VA is telling you that you had a wrist problem and the government recognizes you suffered that injury in-service. For that, the VA states you have a zero rating. A zero rating means the VA is acknowledging that you, in fact, had an in-service injury. But, since your wrist healed with no residual pain & suffering, the wrist injury does not result in a disabling condition and thus, a 10% rating or higher is not justified. A zero rating means less than 10% and no compensation since there is no lingering damage.

      Second, as to your leg, the government has found a disability of 10%. Thus, if you think the problem is that the government should award you a higher rating, you will need to prove or have the VA prove for you that the ongoing injury is at least 10% higher than the current award. To do this, you need evidence of that higher rating. Accordingly, you should obtain, at your own expense, a expert medical opinion which objectively measures your residual injury and explains how that deserves a higher rating.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Brant

        Im sorry for the confusion I was at work when I typed that and had people coming in and out of my office kept losing my place. For my Wrist I have had surgery they removed all of the cartilage in my right wrist for a Triangular Fibro Cartilage Complex Tear. I have to wrap my wrist in a ace bandage in the morning to keep the pain down.

        As for the leg that is a side effect of my De-Generative Disc Disease that I am currently getting 10% for I have 4 collapsed Disc and one Bulging/Herniated Disc pressing on nerves to my leg Cause the lose of feeling.

        Hope this makes sense not quite awake yet.

  • Mike G.

    Upon me completing basic training, I found out I was Hep C positive. My initial blood tests didn’t show hep c positive until I gave blood at a blood bank 6 weeks later. When I was told about the news the Army gave me a choice to either recieve treatment or be discharged. I was just getting started with my training and didn’t want to be discharged, so I accepted the treatment. I started receiving treatment in 2010-2011. The treatment drugs were recently new Pegasys and Copegus and another inhibitor prodrug that only had an RO# that was administered as a clinical study. I was treated for 48 weeks with numerous blood testings and treatment shots. I had numerous drug onset symptoms and was later put on Celexa and Dronabinol to ease discomfort and depression. I filed for disability shortly after being discharged. When I filed the paperwork only said that I was applying for Hep C. Not including the treatment I got which was what I was filing in the first place. I recently filed again and was denied the same. I even went to a VA specialist to help me file but the wording came out in the same way as did before and was denied. I did not contract Hep C in the army but was unaware of my blood test being positive until I was in the army and when I was given an ultimatum, I had no other choice but to accept the treatment without fully knowing what the outcome would be. I have my medical records and a long list of drugs that were administered during the treatment. I suffer from chronic back pain, low blood sugar, low body circulation, migraines, and depression all which could be long term effects from the drugs. I am thankful I am Hep C negative and that the army gave me the chance to go under treatment but the physical and emtional distress I was under while in the army and the possible long term effects is what I am trying to find out if I qualify for disability? If so, would I need to file a new claim? Or do I need to speak with a VA lawyer and try to reapeal my old claims?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mike,

      It does not appear you have an actionable claim. You need to prove that you incurred a medical condition while in service. You clearly state you had a pre-existing medical issue of Hep C. The military doctors may have first found this problem while you served, but the condition pre-dated your service and thus it is not an in-service event.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Sra Vails

    I was assaulted while active duty at Bolling AFB. I was not at fault or the instigator and while i ended up not losing the fight, the guy cracked my neck to the point that the cervical curve in my neck is now straightened out. Does the Va look at the alteration of a bone or other body part, by physical force in a different light? I never see in all my researching, any answers or questions that addresses something like that. Please tell me where i can find out at least

    Thanks

    • Sra Vails

      Also, just to note, the incident happened on base with police and an ambulance involved… I’ve been out since 2000 and have had trouble obtaining police reports or my medical records

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sra,

      You do have the burden of obtaining medical records and/or police reports to verify that this incident occurred as you contend. Without documentation, you are not going to get anywhere with this contention. The VA requires independent confirmation of the facts. Your statements in and of themselves are insufficient to advance a case. Once you are able to locate the reports of incident then you can have an accredited VA lawyer or a client services representative for an accredited not-for-profit agency such as the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans review this information and advise you of the merits of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Antoinette Webb

    I was in the Army Active duty and I got a chapter 11, failure to adapt, I now have been diagnosed with severe PTSD, am I able to get any benefits?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Antoinette,

      If you believe you have a plausible claim you can submit a claim application to the VA. But you must show medical evidence you had PTSD or related medical condition which was treated in-service. Then you must show you have a current diagnosis and third you must be able to link the current diagnosis to the in-service medical condition. It often takes a professional to organize the case and submit appropriate medical and legal evidence to prove such a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Edward gomez

    My short story and question is . During service a Edwards afb I torn my anticruciat ligament and meniscus. Which turned into a total ACL repair at george afb. At separation signing I declined disability do to the fact that knee felt great and I felt bad for asking anything from my beloved Air Force plus returned to sports and work. But now years have passed and I have issues with the knee. Am I allowed to file for disability?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Edward,

      Technically, you want to file a new claim for VA compensation benefits, rather than “disability” benefits. You can go to your nearest American Legion post to obtain free application help from a compensation specialist.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Robert Lambert

    After serious probing and blood tests during basic training in the Coastguard, a heart murmur was found and I was dismissed from the military. Am I entitled to any VA benefits?
    Thank you,
    Robert

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robert,

      Please see my reply of July 1.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

    • Bennatta West

      I was injured during bootcamp 8/2015…I am still in pain from the injury…I applied for benefits earlier this year and was denied…it was stated that my injury was not service related, but I was fine before I shipped off to boot camp. I just went to a doctor and I have to do physical therapy…how do I go about getting compensation for this injury?

      • Kay Derochie

        The VA law and burden of proof is not a simple matter. The VA makes it easy to file a new claim. But, to prove that claim is a difficult task. It takes a legal specialist who is an accredited VA attorney to help you develop the evidence needed to support your contention that your injury is service related and otherwise meets all the tests required by the VA to receive an Award of Benefits.

        Sincerely,
        Craig L. Ames
        Accredited VA Attorney

  • R Wheless

    I was in the Air Force from 1974-1978 and was honorably discharged. I hurt my ankle while on active duty and was on crutches – the leg was bruised all the way up the back of my calf. I had continuous problems with my ankle after the incident but never thought of it as a service connected disability. I have private insurance but use it at the VA, I saw a VA doctor who had me wears corrective shoes and who said my ankle required surgery. Would I have a chance at VA disability?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear R.,

      There are three basic elements to proving a VA compensation claim. You must show that (1) you incurred an in-service medical condition; (2) you have a current medical condition which has a medical diagnosis; and (3) there is a linkage of your current diagnosis with that an in-service medical event those many years ago (1974-1978).

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • R Wheless

        Thank you for the reply. My condition has been ongoing since I hurt it in 1978 my last year in the Air Force. I just never knew that it might be a service connected disability, it happened at the dorm to which I was assigned, however I was in uniform. I am guessing my first step would be to request my medical records from my time in the service, I have a diagnosis from a medical doctor at the VA, what should I do next?
        This was far more than a simple sprain, my leg was bruised all the way up the calf.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear R.,

          You can contact the military to order your entire service records and then go through them to see if there is any documentation of a report of an in-service medical condition or treatment. That would be the starting point.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Mandy Kloepfer

    I received a medical discharge in 2009 for a NSC disability. However since then we have found a way to link the disability to occur less than 24 hours after being dismissed from the drill weekend. I was told that you are still on active duty for no more than 24 hours after you have been dismissed from drill. Is there a way that I can get this reviewed to have it changed to SC and get a rating?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mandy,

      You will need to seek the counsel of a military attorney who can review your situation for you. This is a military issue and not a veteran benefit issue. If the military attorney confirms you were still on duty, then consult with an accredited VA attorney about the event to get an opinion on whether you have a claim and to get assistance in filing the claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Robert Lambert

    During basic training for the Coast Guard, I was diagnosed with a heart murmur and dismissed from the service. Do I have a right to VA benefits?
    Thank you,
    Robert

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Robert,

      The real issue is whether or not you had a medical disability that was incurred as a result of military service. It would seem that you have a preexisting condition which first manifested itself early in basis training. You would need to have all your pre-military and military records reviewed by a professional VA claim service organization such as Disabled American Veterans or the American Legion to render an opinion on whether it would be worthwhile to file a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Robert Lambert

        Thank you very much for your advise.
        Robert

        • Kay Derochie

          You are welcome, Robert.

  • Lydia Zwicky

    I’ve been diagnosed for 10 years with Parkinson and on social security disability since? I’ve worked as a secretary all my life. I recall being asked by doctors if I worked around or been exposed to chemicals or pesticides. A friend of mine in the military told me I was exposed to high levels of chemicals during my two weeks basic training in Ft. McClellan. I was enlisted in June 1974 and Honorably discharged in June 1977. I did a research on flares, pyrotechnics, bullets, gas chamber, etc. and realized that I was indeed exposed to high levels of chemicals that could have caused my Parkinson. Research also indicates that Parkinson usually take years to present itself from exposure. Do I have a claim? I’ve never been aware of my eligibility to VA benefits at discharge and am now in the midst of obtaining a DD214. All I received for discharge was a DD256A.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lydia,

      Some chemical exposures can result in automatic VA benefits upon filing a claim. But some types of illnesses and chemical exposures require direct proof of a disability. You can make an appointment with a claims representative at a non-profit veteran’s organization to see if you have sufficient information for a VA claim for compensation benefits. Check with your local American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, or similar charity.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • I hurt my back in 1981 in the army and was put on a week of bed rest and given muscle relaxers. In 1981. Also that year I had and alerg allergic reaction to some medicine that left scarring, I was treated at the hospital on sick call. Was treated for over 10 years for after leaving service, my doctor died and his office was closed no idea what happened to my records. Filed for compensation but was denied. Was also informed by government that most of my records was lost in a fire .

    • And I do have records showing were I went on sick call for my injuries. No Pets physical done

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Donald,

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

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Tyrone

        This is from my recent medical review by VA Doctors

        “Upon review of medical records dated claimant was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. It is at least as likely as not that Hepatitis C incurred during military service. Although there are no medical records indicating that claimant was diagnosed with Hepatitis C during military service, it has been 1 acknowledged that it is at least as likely as not that some veterans may have been exposed to Hepatitis C through I the multiuse of air guns for vaccinations. In this case, there are no other known risk factors for him to explain how he could have contracted this disease.”

        Is this good news?

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Tyrone,

          One of the elements needed for proof of a VA compensation claim is that there must be a medical record, administrative record, or personnel record showing a service member had a medical condition in-service. The statement from the doctor is what is known as a nexus letter stating that if one had a medical condition in service that there may be a link. But a link needs to be connected to a medical in-service condition. In other words, in addition to the doctor’s opinion of a possible connection, you still need to prove (or the VA must develop military evidence to prove) that an in-service medical condition did, in fact, exist.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Brandon

    Hello,

    I initially injured my back in USMC boot camp in 1996. I have medical documentation of my sick call visit. I was having problems in combat training in 1997 and again in MOS school 1997, in which I have documentation. I was never given anything besides Tylenol, was on light duty a few times but nothing past that. I got out in 2000, since then I have been having back issues which has led to me having two back surgeries. Can I claim this as service connected.

    Thank you,
    Brandon.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Brandon,

      In order to submit a VA compensation claim, you need to meet the minimum standard of having a plausible claim. When you submit a claim, the proof needed to have a rating is that (1) you have evidence of an in-service medical event, (2) you have a current medical condition which results in a diagnosis, and (3) proof exists that there is a linkage to your current diagnosis to the in-service medical event. Often, you need to have a nexus letter from a physician in the form of a written medical opinion of this nexus or linkage.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Tyrone Bennett

        Hello, I have sever pes planus. I don’t have any records from service as backup. But, I do have buddy statements about me complaining of my feet when I would work. What other form of evidence could I use since I don’t have any medical records.

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Tyrone,

          Complaints that your feet are sore is weak evidence of a medical condition. Pain is subjective and is not objectively measurable. So you will have a difficult time in proving that you incurred an in-service medical condition which has now been aggravated. Although you can file a claim with the statements you have, you may not be successful because you lack in-service objective medical records of an in-service medical condition.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Stacy

    My boyfriend joined USMC and was injured during pre-deployment training. Once discharged they told him he wasn’t there for the full 180 days and cannot be claimed a vet or receive any vet benefits. Is this true?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Stacy,

      This is a military law issue and not an issue of VA law. It is beyond my scope of expertise to answer.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • I , too , was injured in basic training and was told that since I didn’t serve 180 days , I wasn’t entitled to benefits .. But I was told I could reenlist after my injury healed , my DD214 says Chronic right ankle instability.
        I was made to take tests while in Casual , where they put you if you’re injured and waiting release from duty or get reattchex to a different flight to finish basic training, these tests were Mandatory know at the time as ” do you love your mommy tests” .
        These tests were included in a reenlisted code being generated .
        When returned home and healed I went to a recruiter and was told with reenlistment code I was given I could not reenlist.
        I was horrified , I was lied to by AF doctors, AF staff and Ranking officers and enlisted Airmen.
        I contacted congressman Gekas, at the time, and was told he couldn’t help me it was a military decision.
        I have always had a feeling of betrayal and with that embarassment becayse had I known I wouldn’t be allowed to reenlist I would have never agreed to being discharged.
        These tests were given weeks after treatment for my ankle injury and placed on casual status .. I was in no frame of mind to be evaluated by a fill in the dot test and never seen by a psychological professional or treated for anything relating to my reenlistment code , only physical treatment was given .
        I can still remember the AF doctor’s name but not his rank at the time ..I can also remember thus doctor hold my ankle and bending it while other people took xrays …Later I was told this made my ankle appear worse in condition than it really was ..
        Of course I can’t price anything and I have Always had a Bad taste in my mouth for the events that happened and will forever feel that for some reason .. I was made to leave involuntarily for a simple ankle sprain .. which MEPS never passed me to enlist in the first place.
        I now suffered from Anxiety and Depression and can’t help think that deep inside my mind this a lingering feeling of failure.
        If nothing else I told my story , once again , with probably no answers or outcome ..
        But I feel better .. Maybe can have peace with All this someday because its in my final wishes for this be publicly known at the the if my death .. Just a farewell for people to realize what happened.
        Thank You
        P.S. I’m now 49, I was 18 this happened ..just an FYI

        • I meant MEPS never failed me to enlist ..

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Thomas,

          VA law is complex and highly technical. This is a pre-qualification rule dealing with the definition of “veteran”. You will need to google this term to see if you are ruled-out as not qualifying for benefits since the VA compensation law only applies if you are classified as a veteran. There are a number of classifications.The definition may need to be analyzed by a VA accredited attorney to see if you might meet one of the classifications of service members who qualify for benefits.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • I was Honorably Medically Discharged in 1990. The Air Force said I was 40% disabled due to chronomalasia syndrome. And it was aggravated by my service. I have filed my claim several times over the last 26 yrs. and just now found out it wasn’t filed as aggravated due to my DD214 had the wrong code on it. I now receive the Disability Pension for non service injuries. I have sent a request to the Air Force Records Board, to change the code from JFL to the proper code. I got a response from them that says the aggravated code was not in use at the time of my discharge and should have received my disability pay. Should I continue to fight for my original disability? Or just be happy with what I have. The back pay would be very helpful.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Andrew,

      You have a complex set of facts. Without a review of your complete claim file, it is impossible to render any opinion. You should seek the services of a VA accredited attorney who can set up a free consultation and review the merits of your claim. The VA regulations are many and each claim does require much analysis to determine the issues and how to proceed with proving a case.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Thank you very much. I will do so as fast as I can.

        • Kay Derochie

          You are welcome, Andrew.

  • Jordan

    Hello,

    I filled paperwork for disability compensation 05/18/2015 while I was still in the Navy. I still haven’t received my DD 214 but am assuming I will get it any day.
    My question is, because this last year I haven’t technically been discharged but have been home on non-paid separation leave, is my effective date for back pay for the claim I received (60%) going to be from 05/18/2015 or is it going to be the discharge date which I still do not have?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jordan,

      If you are awarded a VA benefit, it will be retroactive to the date of military discharge. However, note that you cannot file a VA compensation claim until you have been discharged. In summary, it seems you have filed a claim for military benefits to have a military discharge for medical reasons which includes a benefit for a disability, which is different from VA benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • A. Kent

    I received my VA Comp Claims and I have the following. What I am confused about is I can’t see where some of them fall under and which % of disability I might get. After nearly 10 years of service I am interested in understanding where I might stand.

    Diagnosis Summary
    Right Ankle
    Right Posterior Tibial Tendonitis – Diagnosis = Tendonitis
    Right Peroneal Tendonitis – Diagnosis = Tendonitis
    Right Sinus Tarsi Syndrome – Diagnosis = Sinus Tarsi Syndrome
    Capsulitis Right Foot – Diagnosis = Capsulitis

    Right Foot
    Plantar Fasciitis – Diagnosis = Plantar Fasciitis

    Both Legs
    Shin Splints – Diagnosis = Shin Splints

    Burn Pits – Diagnosis = (Consistent with (but not diagnostic of) a very mild smoke

    Mental Health
    Anxiety
    Chronic Sleep Impairment

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear A. Kent,

      The Disability Advisor cannot render any opinion based upon the brief information you provided. What is important is the actual VA determination letter. You should take that VA determination and have a VA accredited attorney review it for you. Such an accredited attorney can advise you as to the merits of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • D

    I had 70% blockage and had to havd stent placed.
    I also have irregular heartbeat.
    I submitted claim for coronary artery disease and got denied. My records show abnormal EKG in the military. should I file under another conditions or Should I appeal?
    Thanksn

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear D.,

      This is in response to both your posts.

      You need to think about the VA compensation claim process like the process in a lawsuit. That “lawsuit” involves the making of contentions that you have had an ongoing injury from the time you served in the military on active duty. There are many components of evidence needed to prove your claim to the satisfaction of the “jury,” which are the bureaucrats at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

      First you must prove that you incurred an in-service medical event which relates to military service. For example, you broke your arm by falling off of a tank. On the other hand, a person can have a genetic weakness or engage in unhealthy behavior which causes one to suffer a medical illness. For example, a congenital heart condition is not related to military activities other than it may first manifest itself in-service. So you need to prove the in-service medical condition is a result of military service.

      Second, you must prove you have a current medical condition which is diagnosed by a physician. And third, you must prove the current diagnosis links back to the in-service medical event.

      By way of the content as to how you state your claim, you will need to have targeted medical records to prove a VA compensation claim. The VA probably denied your claim due to lack of specificity. I suggest you seek the services of an accredited VA attorney who can render a professional opinion as to the merits or lack thereof of your claim for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Doni

    My son is away at boot camp. During the first 6 weeks of training he suffered a herniated disc, he was able to keep on training. Now I was just informed he was injured again this time he fell out of a helicopter, he has 7 vertebrae’s out of place and three bulging disc’s, basically a miracle he can walk. He’s being medically discharged within the month and did finish his training. I need know what he should do so he can be sure to get all benefits he is entitled to.
    Thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Doni,

      Since your son is currently in the military, he should seek the advice of a military lawyer assigned to his branch of service. If you are thinking about veterans’ benefits, he must first be discharged from the service before he is eligible to apply for any benefit program.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Richard Barnes

        I served 4 years in the army and was called back in for desert storm. I received a honorable discharge in 1993 I have now become disabled I have to vertebrae in my back messed up. Can I apply for VA disability

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Richard,

          A veteran can file a VA compensation claim if it is plausible. Plausibility means the veteran has a good faith belief that a disabling condition resulted from military service. One needs to prove this contention by presenting 3 elements. First the vertebrae at issue is subject to a physician’s opinion that a current medical diagnosis exists. That diagnosis must result in a disabling condition. Second, the veteran needs to show an in-service chronic medical condition. For example, typically this means that the veteran can point to a military medical record showing treatment for that medical condition. And third, one needs to prove a linking back of the current diagnosed condition as relating back directly to that in-service connected injury, illness or medical condition.

          If the condition did not result from your service and you have limited income and assets, you might file a claim for VA pension, which is a needs-based program for wartime veterans who are
          Age 65 or older, OR
          Totally and permanently disabled, OR
          A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
          Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
          Receiving Supplemental Security Income

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

      • D

        I have 10% for my back and 10% for my left knee. Could I get a secondary rating for flat feet?
        Thanks

  • Billy d

    Question,

    Joined in October, was discharged in February. Complained of ankle pain and my discharged shows uncharacterized. However I got a MRI at the VA after I was out and it showed I had torn tendons and ligaments which the VA paid for and I’m a 10% disabled vet. My issue is I want my discharge to be changed to honorable. One, because I believe it’s right and two, I will qualify for more benefits.
    Is this possible?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Billy,

      Having an in-service medical condition does not have any bearing on whether your discharge was honorable or general. You can have an honorable discharge due to forced termination due to a medical condition. Accordingly it appears that your less than honorable discharge does not relate to your medical ankle pain.

      The bottom line is that you can make an application to modify your classification of type of discharge. There is an application form to do so at the VA website. Alternatively, you can seek free advisory services from a not-for-profit organization such as the Disabled American Veterans or the American Legion or a similar veterans group.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • chelsea

    my husband has been out for about a yr now and has hearing loss not all the way but he dont hear half the time and has to listen to everything very loud would this be something he could apply for

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Chelsea,

      If your husband cannot hear reasonably well with hearing aids and/or his past work required very good hearing and he is an older worker, he might qualify for benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Bishop

    I was in boot camp in MCRD San Diego and unfortunately after being named “guide”, I developed shin splints from running in boots and was diagnosed with that and also plantar fasciitis. I could not heal and was then sent home. I dealt with the pain for over two decades but was recently forced to go see a foot specialist who once again diagnosed me with this painful plantar fasciitis condition again. Do I have a claim since this began and happened at boot camp? I never had foot or leg programs before boot camp. What should I do for assistance?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bishop,

      You can file a claim, but you will need to prove your claim from military records that you were diagnosed for the medical condition in boot camp as well as proving you have a disabling medical condition now and that there is linkage between the two events.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Munirah White

    While serving, I tore my ACL during physical training and had a dislocation of my patella. From 2006-2009, I had a total of 4 knee operations whereas there were several complications. Despite the damage to my health, I only received a 20% rating, 10% on each knee.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Munirah,

      If you have a question, please post it and I will try to respond.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Alzetta Pitts Davis

    My ex husband was in a truck accident at Ft. Hood, tX in 1986. He was traveling in a convoy of about 6 vehicles while pulling a 50,000 gallon tanker full of fuel. He filed a claim for all his injuries in 2015. He was asked to provide proof of the accident occurred and the only thing he had was a company level article 15 which everyone received due to the extensive damage of the vehicle. His claim was denied for everything to include hearing loss which had nothing to do with the accident. But it was on the claim form and they said the accident was due to his own negligence. How that is feasibly possible while traveling in the middle of a convoy and your tanker is full of fuel and starts to roll while in a curve is beyond explanation. But that is exactly why VA denied his claim based on the article 15 that provided proof an accident did occur. He received his honorable discharge upon his completion of committed service obligation 6 months after the accident occurred. Is there a legal formality for him to pursue to correct this wrong doing. Mind you VA just performed surgery on his shoulder placing 4 screws in which of course was one of the injuries incurred doing that accident. They also are treating him for PTSD and Bi-PolarII disorder as well. Since he has been in the care of VA he blacked out and broke two bones in his foot Jan 2016, which they were warned about the drug administered triggers black outs that occurred at the Tuskegee VA which now has transferred him to Dublin, GA VA. He is needs legal help on all levels. Please help and offer sound advice.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Alzetta,

      Since you indicate your ex husband needs legal help on all levels, he should seek the services of a VA accredited attorney. You can check the Department of Veterans Affairs website for a list of accredited attorneys in your zip code area.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • kenneth claus

    I went thru basic and a it training and was injured with back problems and was medically discharged but have been told I can’t be service connected because my back was bad when I was drafted. But they drafted me and said I was fine. Now I am on ssdi because my back has gotten so bad. Not right at all. They just don’t want to give me any benefits.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kenneth,

      If you have a question and post it, I will forward it to an accredited VA attorney for response.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Angie

    My uncle went through part of his basic training till he got trampled on by others during a drill it let him disabled to complete training. He was given a discharge. Yrs later he is still having problems walking and his back messed up. When this happened he was in the hospital for a long while. If ppl are getting disability payments even though they never completed basic military training shouldn’t he receive payments if he is able to apply. This was back yrs ago he is in his 80s. Also my dad was receiving his partial VA payments. They took his away and said he made to much money. He had to repay the VA. This isn’t right there is ppl getting S. S. D. and VA others are getting VA and S. S. Their S. S. D. Or S. S. Are equal or more than VA or VA more than S. S. D. Or S. S. My dad got less than 100$ a month from VA. But his health problems was brought on by trauma and according to the records of the Camp leguene NC water issue during the 50 through 87. My dad was stationed out of there during his service time. The water issue not only caused health issues but mental issues. He has been hospitalized over the yrs due to his mental health. It’s not right for them to claim he doesn’t deserve his VA pension when in fact he does. Mr. Craig Ames can you help us we deserve to know the answers to our families health and VA benefitS.

    Sincerely
    Angie Moses

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Angie,

      You will need to telephone me to further explain the situation. My office number is 904-374-2136.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • John

    I went through basic training in the army 1980 half of us wore tennis shoes other half boots. At the end of basic we were taken to the military hospital. We were injected with a chemical and a xray type machine ran up and down our leggs. I was told I had shin splints. And have always lived with the pain. Now older it hurts to walk. Also broke my ankle in Germany during morning pt. Now my right foot is numb can’t keep it warm when it’s cold out. My podiatrist says it’s from that injury. Would I qualify for disability?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear John,

      In order to receive a VA compensation award, you must prove (1) you incurred an in-service medical event, (2) you have a current disability and (3) you have medical evidence linking your current diagnosis to that in-service event.

      Note that a current medical condition is not sufficient to establish a VA rating. You must have a measurable disability as defined by the VA due to your current medical condition. For example, you could have a minor disabling condition now that is insufficient to justify at least a 10% disability. If so, there could be no rating or a zero percent rating. Either situation would result in no compensation benefit. To know for sure, you would have to file a claim and submit evidence to support the three points above.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Big Will

    I was in the air guard for 9 years I got out in 1999, I hurt my knee in basic i went to see the doctor. The Dr would not allow me to run for 4 weeks. I went to tech school my knee was still weak which caused me to twist my ankle. I also blew out my ear due to a bad seal on a mask in the chamber. No mri was performed at the time of my knee and ankle injury, however my medical records confirm the injuries. My knee and ankle has hurt since i got injured. in 2009 while at work my knee gave out and i fell, i went to the dr and they did a mri which showed damage, to both knees. I had 3 knee operations. Do you think i can t some help from the VA.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Big Will,

      A veteran can make an application for VA medical benefits. There are nine levels of applicants, and the VA will assign the veteran to a slot in these classifications. It is difficult to obtain treatment if the applicant is in Class Six or below. The veteran should consider applying but if the veteran is employed he or she may have better results via private health care insurance benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited V.A. Attorney

  • Heidi

    If you are currently serving and your diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, will you be discharged even though you don’t want to and will you loose your benefits?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Heidi,

      Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder. One may have symptoms or not. The symptoms may be controled by medications for a prolonged time period. The question is whether or not it interferes with the activities of duties. Since Parkinson is a serious disorder, the military can terminate a service member due to a disability. A disability honorable discharge may be awarded with ongoing military retiree pay due to the disability. You need to speak to a military attorney such as a JAG to represent your best interests.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Amanda Baker

    My husband is due to have a pain pump installed due to five failed surgeries on his spine. He is rated 20% for his injury. Will he qualify for a higher rating after the the pump is installed?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Amanda,

      The bottom line question is as follows: How does the installation of the pump decrease his ability to perform activities of daily living? For example, does the pump cause him materially more difficulties to cook, clean, bath, drive a car, do other chores, social activities? If not, then a rating will probably not be increased.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Linda

    How long does it normally take from waiting for decision approval until completion of the claim?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Linda,

      Payment of Social Security Disability claims can take a couple months after the favorable medical decision has been made.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Bobbi Asbury

    I was injured in Basic Training and sent home because I was national guard with an Active duty base and VA hospital in my home town. After service in the national guard for 5 years and not being able to rank up or deploy because I my injury, I was administratively discharged. I was given a general discharge – which I had to fight for. my claim has now be denied three times. I can’t get the medical coverage that I need and fight pain, anxiety and depression everyday. Benefits have been denied me and I am about to give up completely on the whole thing. Joining the military and trying to serve my country was the worst decision that I ever made in my life.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Bobbi,

      If you have a question, please post it and I will forward it to an accredited VA attorney for reply.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • David Blakley

        Can you please offer me much needed advice. Can you please tell me how to best handle my claim. I sustained a jip contusion in Basic for the Navy the Dr. Tom Damascke gave me a RE-3R I have been denied benefits I am needing more guidance please.

        Thank you, David Blakley

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear David,

          In order to successfully file a VA compensation claim one must meet eligibility requirements. First, you must be qualified as a “veteran”. Assuming you so qualify then as to your medical conditions you need to meet three requirements: (a) you incurred a medical event, illness or injury which is documented as being incurred in-service. For example, you broke your leg and have an in-service medical treatment record documenting that injury. (b) You must have a diagnosis of a current medical condition which results in a measurable disability. And c) you must be able to link your current disability to that medical illness, injury or event which was incurred in-service. It may be advisable to consult with an accredited VA attorney for assistance on how to appeal. The fee can be paid on a contingency basis after you are awarded benefits. You can find a list of accredited VA attorneys in your state by visiting the VA website at http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  • Ryan Alexander

    Hi, I was injured in basic with a fractured femoral neck hip, fractured femur, stress fracture tibula, bilateral shin splints, and messed up my knee. The doctors there were less than what I would call professional. I went 4 weeks before I could even get a mri of my hip. Spent a total of 10 weeks on profile. I got a forced RTD after a refusal to train when the commander recommended me to a warrior training program. I’m now discharged from the army with what my sgt called a “general discharge”. My lower back is still in pain and my knee has since gone to worse with unbearable pain. Frequently I have difficulty walking. Do I apply for benefits? Should I go to a post nearby to be checked out? I have no insurance that I’m aware of and do not know what to do. Thanks, Ryan. Texas.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ryan,

      I suggest you go in person to the Regional VA Field Office if it is located within a reasonable driving distance from your residence. Alternatively, there may be a substation field office in the largest major city near your residence. As a third option, you can visit the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans post in your area. These non-profit organizations are accredited to serve your veteran benefit needs without charge.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jon

    Hello. Thanks for the work you do. I was in basic training and was discharged 6 weeks in due to privous mental conditions that resurfaced due to strenous conditions. PTSD and have now been diagnosed with Shizophective disorder. Do I have any chance at a claim? Im currently getting SSDI and SSI? Regards,

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jon,

      I have insufficient information to render any opinion on your situation. I suggest you have a professional claim service organization review your situation. For example, you can have the American Legion review your circumstances without charge.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Steve

    I received a discharge less then honorable. I was stationed at camp lejune during the contamination period 1970. I was diagnosed with liver cancer last year needed a liver transplant which I received last year
    Now I have something in my lungs
    I have been sick for years. Would I be entitled to any benefits from va
    For the camp lejune toxic bill signed by president Obama?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Steve,

      Your claim is complex in at least three ways. First, your claim would involve a determination that an in-service medical condition is not excluded due to a less than honorable discharge. Second, you must be able to claim you have direct proof of an in-service medical condition. Not all Camp Lejune exposure cases are presumptive and require direct proof of a medical condition. And third, you need to show your current medical problems relate back and link to medical conditions which were incurred in-service.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Deborah Troha

    I receive VA disability at 30%. It is my belief that i should receive far more as i paid the ultimate price, ( well not my life) But my babies. While on scouting practice with my Military Working Dog, He got very excited and it was extremely hot that day in Texas. He jerked me to the ground on my belly and drug me accross the scouting field on my belly. As i said it was very hot and i had hyperemisis while pregnant so i was dizzy. But when my dog jerked me to the ground on my belly, it caused me to miscarry. I ended up hemorraging and suffered a great deal of mental anguish from this incident. I had zero counseling. I also had major stress fractures on both heels and now have RSDS that began in my feet. But I ended up with severe PTSD over my loss and began to drink heavily. I feel i should receive medical care for life and definitly free counseling services as i am now a mother, but extremely clingy and during my pregnancies i was hypervigilant at taking care of myself and extremely tearful and worried at each new thing that happened. It almost froze me. But they gave me 30%. I feel it should be much more than that because of my job, i lost my child. They can never replace that and cannot fill that void i still have. Should i approach them to reconsider my case. BTW, due to the RSDS, i was bedridden for 4 years and still suffer from pain of it and the autonomic dysfunction that comes with it. Help me to get what i deserve. I feel i deserve my id card forever for what i lost.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Debra,

      The VA requires objective medical evidence as to the degree of disability, if any. A claim is not based upon subjective considerations. A VA claim is a medical/legal determination. It is not based upon what the veteran may think about the disability. What one needs is a medical/legal analysis. I suggest you consider contacting an accredited VA attorney to professionally analyze your claim. You can go onto the Department of Veterans Affairs website and conduct a search of accredited lawyers within your zip code area.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • William Anderson

    I am a Camp Lejeune Toxic water injured Marine. I have lost 6 feet of colon, had a colostomy, and been hospitalized numerous times requiring me to be placed on a gastro-nasal stomach pump due to the damage done to me by drinking and eating food cook with Camp Lejeune toxic water. The VA has denied me stating that I was on “active duty training” while at Camp Lejeune. I feel like I am being discriminated against. The VA’s regulations state that any injury that occurs during active duty training meet VA benefits requirements. Why am I being denied VA care and benefits? Toxic water caused cancer and illness has not discriminated by what kind of duty you were on. I am living proof of that.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear William,

      A claim for discrimination is without merit. There is no specific class of “discrimination” which is actionable under the federal VA statutes. A “contaminated water” claim at Camp Lejeune must follow these guidelines:

      In the early 1980s at the Marine Corps Base in Lejeune, NC, it was discovered that two on-base water-supply systems were contaminated with the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning agent. Benzene, vinyl chloride, and other compounds were also found to be contaminating the water-supply systems. The water systems were contaminated from August 1953 through December 1987.

      There is limited and suggestive evidence of an association between certain diseases and the chemical compounds found at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination. VA will consider disability compensation claims based on exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune on a case-by-case basis.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Tabitha

    I was discharged in 2011. I had been in almost a year and a half. I was in ptrp from a broken toe and bad shin splints. I recieved a under honarble conditions discharge. I cant run out stand for long or my legs start throbbing. I ran a half a mile one day and could hardly walk the next. I do believe I have flat foot being that I did recieves inserts and they are pretty flat. Can I get disability and do I have to go to a Dr. I don’t have insurance which is why I don’t know exactly what’s going on.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Tabitha,

      VA benefit entitlement is a complex matter. There is no simple answer as to whether or not you have an actionable claim. You should seek out the assistance of a professional who is licensed to aid veterans with filing a VA compensation claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Jordan

    Hello. My name is jordan,im a 21 year old male. I was in the army from may6 to dec11 of this past year. Went through basic. And then i went to eod school and failed. Spent 6 weeks as a hold over then was shipped to be a 91a at fort benning. I ended up not makinh it there either. And spent 4 months as a hold over there. I now suffer from stress attacks and have anxiety that i didnt have prior to joining the military. I have trouble dealing with everyday situations, i find that i get extreamly stressed very quickly. And it didnt used to happen to me. Most people go through basic and then ait for maybe 10 weeks or so. I went through a basic training environment for about 9 months. And its changes me. My heart beats weird alot now and it didnt used to and hurts when i breath in. Im positive that all this depresion and anxiety/stress attacks are from being treated the way i was treated for so long. And yes i received a honorable discharge. Still have it and my medical records. My question is. Am i eligible for help

    • Kay Derochie

      The only way to know whether you qualify for benefits is to file a claim. You can seek the services of a local chapter of the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans or a similar not-for-profit agency to help you with your claim for VA benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Regina MT

    I filed for Va disability back in September 2014. I was diagnosed with conversion disorder and migraines in the military. I recently went to the Compensation & Pension examination for both. The examiner for the conversion disorder reported that I do not suffer from that, but he diagnosed me with a mental disorder called, polysubstance abuse. The other examiner for migraines diagnosed me with, migraines and migraines variants. Will this qualify me for va disability benefits?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Regina,

      You must be able to prove three distinct things: (1) that you had an in-service medical diagnosis, illness, injury or medical condition; and (2) that you suffer from that medical condition now which is chronic in nature (meaning of six months duration or longer); and (3) that there is a direct linkage of elements(1) to (2). The examination was addressing only the first element.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • My daughter is awaiting a medical Seperation as a result of a level 3 fractured hip and two stress fractures to feet (pushed during training exercise in bootcamp). What should we do immediately after her discharge. Will VA hospital receive her…She has been at Ft Jackson since March 2. She should be home any day now…please help. Thanks in advance

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Natalie,

      Your daughter should set up an in-person visit with the VA Regional Office Veterans Service Officer in the region where she will be living. If she needs to be transferred from hospital to hospital as an inpatient, the hospital at Ft. Jackson should be able to arrange it in advance.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • D,Falk

    A person I know is in basic Army training and hurt their back carrying a 100 pound pack and marching. They did not finish the basic training with their group and the army is waiting to see if it heals and they can start training over. If they are released from the army would they be able to apply and recieve disability comp?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear D.,

      The veteran would have to (1) prove that he or she met the veteran’s service requirement tests, (2) document an in-service medical condition, (3) prove he or she has a current medical diagnosis that results in an actual current disability, and (4) prove medically that elements 2 and 3 are linked together. The veteran may need the help of a licensed VA accredited representative.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Nesha Dosey

    Hey my husband was in the Military for 8 years which he has done 2 tours to Iran. He was healthy until 7 years in he started having heart problems he then was diagnosed with Wolff parkisons white he got out in 2009 and file for disability through the VA. his claim was denied so we appealed it again is there any chance that he will get denied again he’s been back and forth to the doctors and he cannot get enough oblation because it’s too close to vital tissue.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Nesha,

      A claim like yours probably would lend itself to getting an independent legal opinion from an accredited VA attorney. These claims are complex and are not easy to prove.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • marlyn

    Hi my son had 3 weeks left in phase 2 training. He has been on sick leave since September 2014, he has been diagnosed with aggressive ms is he entitled to any compensation.thanks

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Marilyn,

      When a person is serving in the military becomes ill or sustains an injury, that service person, while on active duty, is being paid by the federal government and medical benefits are available. Once discharged, the person can submit a VA claim for benefits which may or may not be approved for benefits. For benefits to be paid the medical event must be “actionable,” meaning that all the criteria for the VA benefits are met, including that the disabling illness or injury is service connected. Just because some medical event, in your son’s case, the beginning of an illness, occurs while the person is in the service does not mean that the illness or injury is service-connected and sufficient to trigger VA benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  • Michael

    I spent 8 weeks at Ft. McClellan for Basic training
    in 1987.

    I completed my 6 yr commitment Honorably.

    My wife and I had 4 miscarriages. I have
    mysterious stomach ailments, short term
    memory loss, had a diseased gallbladder removed
    , tinunitis, nerve sciatica issues, vision issues,
    Etc!!! I am 45.

    I am concerned with all the toxic exposure
    in 1987.

    Any relief for me from the VA?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Michael,

      You should apply for disability for every condition you have. An attorney cannot represent you on initial application.

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney

  • amy

    My future ex husband is a scamming hustling bum who made it to the end if boot camp a decade ago but got medically discharged for a prenatal heart condition (rapid heart beat – wolff parkinson white syndrome). He is currently trying to get VA disability benefits and is probably misleading them in some way because I have heard that he expects his application to be accepted. What are the chances of the VA falling for his bull and is there anyone I can call to report him?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Amy,

      The VA is pretty good about weeding out fraudulent claims. Since you do not know what he applied for, if anything, it could be dangerous for you to call and report him. What if his claim is legitimate and you said he is lying. It could cause trouble for you. Do you want to take that risk?

      Sincerely,
      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • Daniel Coffey

    I was denied for everything in the book.Sociol Security gave it to me for being unemployable because i was beaten up by drill seargents at fort leonard wood mosurri..during boot camp and ait training..i fell from a 50 foot obstacle . Structure and was denied medical attention. I did however was issued size 8 combat boots and i wore size 10 and broke every toe and had to wear tennis shoes instead of combat boots.had gone to doctor..i was also beaten up at my regular unit at Johnson barracks. At the bar across the street by a man i never saw before because he mugged me..my sgt deneen was embarrassed and told the foctor i hit my head and face on bed post now i have spinal cord injury and cervical disc disease ..the military kicked me out after serving 21 months of active duty under honorable conditions for alcohol rehabilitation failure i was never offered in patient treatment or any AA meetings.i have 10 years clean now and get SSDI for cervical disc disease. And they wont let me see a VA doctor because i spent less than 2 years in the military ive been denied over 16 times and i have my neck injury still in appeal process and i need an attorney fast now im going blind,and its all ongoing because medicare has the records and va is saying its not what do i do

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Daniel,

      I believe that by now you have been a VA attorney had contacted via email.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Robert

        Hi Kay, again. I was just awarded SSD for my deteriorating hip which has to be replaced by the VA. It was service – connected at 30% which I am claiming it got worse and they agreed so I am waiting to hear from the VA in the next two months. During the time after military I was considered disable at 30% went to college and worked for 30 years till it caught up to me. The pain was unbearable. I have no cartilage left between the screw and my socket. SSD states I should get $2600 with dependents but I want to know how it will hinder me if I do not pay FICA or into the system to make sure after the surgery I can increase my Social Security retirement. Because I am planning to go with the surgery and want to make sure I pay into the system. I do realized (married jointly) I pay taxes if we make more then 32k per year at 15% on SSD, does that pay into the system? Sorry for being lengthy.

        Sincerely

        Robert

        • Kay Derochie

          Dear Robert,

          The only income that is taxed for Social Security credits is work earnings. Your Social Security Disability benefits are being paid at the same rate as your retirement would be at retirement age. That means that if you remain disabled until retirement age, there will not be an increase in benefits. The only way to have an increase would be to return to work.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Robert

            Kay,

            Thank you and welcome back from your vacation:) ….Last question.

            Does the SSA notified the VA about award? Or do I need to give a copy to my VSO? So it will help my compensation case pending.

            You are great service to men and women who has served.

            • Kay Derochie

              Dear Robert,

              The Social Security Administration does not send notices of SSD claim approvals to the Veteran’s Administration.

              Sincerely,
              Kay

  • William E Teal II

    I joined the Missouri Army National Guards in 1997, I did split training boot camp between Junior and Senior years, finished AIT after graduation. During my Boot Camp training both of my calves began swelling from knees to my feet. Drill Sgt. Guthrie took me to the med and I was diagnosed with “shin splints” I vividly remember seeing the x-rays and to me it looked like I had fractures in several places in my tibia and fibula on both legs. I was pretty much pushed through boot camp given special pt testing etc. To this day my legs still swell, I could seriously push my finger into my swollen leg to the bone and it would go in like 2″ and the impression would stay for a very long time. I was at Ft. McClellan AL for training and upon returning home for my Senior year I seeked treatment at Jefferson Barracks in MO. I never received my medical files and never realized that I was entitled to any kind of help through the VA, until today and I’m still not 100% sure that I am. Is there anyone on this site that can offer me any information or a website or a person to call to find out if I can get some kind of assistance. I only served 3 years in the Guards and from my understanding I am not a veteran. I always thought that I was just never seeked any kind of assistance. My father was a 100% medically retired Captain in the guards he served 13 years. Shouldn’t I be covered somehow under his benefits as well? He has since passed on in 2007?? any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated thank you

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear William,

      The first step is to apply for benefits. See what the response is and then we can determine what else should be done. They may just cover you. If not, we can decide what your next step should be.

      Sincerely,

      James Mitchell Brown
      Attorney at Law

  • sgt “D”

    I am sick from hyperthyroidism,vitiligo,and Sciatica nerve pain since 1998 ,And was recently informed by HQ.USMC that i was exposed to contaminated drinking water for the 5 years i spent at Camp Lejune in the mid to late 80s,This may have caused my illnesses ,I filed both SSD & VA comp claims and already Social Security has denied my claim, I am Still waiting for the VAs response,They are treating me at the Veterans hospital for my illnesses,But since the SSA denied me does this mean the VA will deny me too ?I was perfectly healthy until 1998 and then all these diseases popped up,And they are most likely related to the contaminated water occurrence at Camp Lejune.Would the VA try to deny this ?and if so where do i turn from here ?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Sgt. D.,

      The VA will not necessarily deny your claim just because Social Security has. Each program has a different definition of disability. Also, the VA pays partial benefits depending on the percentage of disability they establish and Social Security does not. If you believe you are not able to work, you should appeal your Social Security Disability denial.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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