Rethink Your Strategy With VA Disability Appeals
Being denied benefits from the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability system can be a major setback from getting the financial and medical support you need to transition to civilian life, but it isn't the end of your chances. The VA knows that there can be mistakes in the approval process and confusion on the part of the veteran, which is why the appeal policy is placed on every mailed decision or information letter (as shown in this PDF document from the VA). Get ready to push for a second, third or as many chances as necessary with some extra information about the claims process.
How Strong Is Your Service Connection Argument?
The major, deciding factor with any VA claim or appeal is the set facts about your condition's service-connection. A service-connection explains how your condition is related to military service, which is required for benefits. If your injury or condition happened after the end of your military service, the VA disability program is not for you and you should seek other personal injury or social service benefits--all of which the VA can assist you with through other programs.
A condition can be anything from a physical injury to a disease such as cancer or psychological changes such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It doesn't matter if you were at your normal job post, in combat, out of combat or even on leave; if your condition was related to military service at all, you can make a service-connection argument.
Pre-existing conditions can be considered as well. If your eyesight was already less than perfect and requiring glasses or contacts, you can still seek benefits if your eyesight became significantly worse. The definition of significant is dealt with on a case-by-case basis for any situation, ranging from hearing loss to chronic pain.
The strength of your service-connection argument depends on how much proof you have. Ideally, you'll have a medical record entry showing that you both complained about the issue and that medical personnel in the military (or outsourced civilian medical professionals) noticed an issue.
There are times that even a medical record entry isn't enough. An entry about a broken leg, for example, may not be sufficient if you've had enough time to recover. Minor injuries could have been under-reported and you may be suffering because of a clerical error.
Missing Information? Appeals Are Your Second Chance
Unfortunately, without detailed evidence linking the issue to the military and an observable condition, it's hard to separate your condition from post-military conditions or fraud. It's time to gather more information.
If you're missing your medical record information or neglected to copy the relevant information, contact the National Archives to get a copy of your records. Be aware that it may take weeks or months for your record to arrive, so order a copy as soon as possible whether you think the information is relevant or not. Make multiple copies when you can in order to avoid delays based on medical record evidence.
If you don't have that past information in documented, official form, you need to get a personal injury law firm on your side immediately. It's extremely difficult for an injured veteran to prove that an unreported issue happened before leaving the military without experienced legal counsel and their medical team connections delivering evidence.
Contact a personal injury law firm for professional research into your medical history and chances for VA appeal success.