Disability Claims for Veterans in Texas and Nationally
Texans have a long tradition of military service, and the Lonestar state has a higher percentage of U.S. military veterans than the national average. Texas and cities like Austin show appreciation for Texans’ sacrifice with benefits like tax exemptions, loan programs and employment preferences.
But for Veterans in Texas and Nationally, receiving disability benefits from the Federal government can often be a long and frustrating process.
Veterans who have been injured during service may not know how to package their claim application and evidence to make sure it isn’t rejected. And those who have had their disability claims rejected may need help in the appeal process.
State and local Veterans groups in Texas and nationwide can help veterans file or appeal their disability claims. Some can even act as the veteran’s representative at hearings. In addition, an Austin veterans disability attorney with experience and knowledge of Veterans law can guide veterans through this challenging process, and make a complete and convincing claim which is less likely to be rejected.
NOTE: It is important to file a supplemental claim no more than ONE YEAR after your claim denial. Do not wait, or you may lose your opportunity to appeal.
VA Benefits For U.S. Veterans: Caring For Those Who Have Borne The Battle
Taking proper care of the people that put their lives on the line to defend this nation has been a mission of the Federal government since 1776, when the Continental Congress gave pensions to soldiers and sailors that fought in the American Revolutionary War.
That mission expanded as the nation faced ongoing conflicts. Homes were established to care for Civil War Veterans and provide for widows and orphans. Service members and their families were given benefits during World War I. And in 1930, the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) was established to address the concerns and needs of U.S. Veterans and their families.
Backlogged and Denied Disability Claims By U.S. Veterans
But in more recent times, the VA’s goal of caring for those “who shall have borne the battle” has unfortunately fallen short. The VA continues to wrestle with its backlog of unprocessed disability claims, which even the military says may be underreported.
An investigation by the VA’s Inspector General found that “a significant number of denied and rejected [veterans disability] claims were inappropriately processed, some leading to wrongful denials and rejections.” Source: Department of Veterans Affairs
Injured veterans have had to wait many months for responses to their claims. And when a claim is denied, appealing it can take years to resolve. Injured veterans remain on the hook for the mounting bills. And many face ongoing disabilities like chronic pain or PTSD that make it a challenge to find or keep employment.
That’s why it is so important to properly make your Veterans Disability claim the first time. And if it has already been rejected, to submit a proper appeal.
If you aren’t sure whether your veterans disability claim has been rejected, you can track your claim at the VA government website.
In addition, you may want to speak with an Austin denied disability claims attorney.
A disability attorney can hear your story and put together your evidence and application so that you can avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to claims being denied. If you have been denied already, an attorney can help you identify and address the reasons why. Your lawyer will argue on your behalf to make the strongest case for approving your benefits.
Most VA Disability Claims Get Denied, But Many Denials Can Be Easily Fixed
The VA reports that the Department initially denies up to 70% of disability claims. But many are denied simply because the claim does not have all the necessary information or documentation. So it is important to fully and correctly complete your application form.
A Few Tips For Filing a Veterans Disability Claim to Avoid a Denial:
- Information must all be accurate (no nicknames, correct address, SSN).
- Medical bills, etc. should have the same info (name, address) as the info on the disability application form.
- The forms are optically scanned – your info should be printed darkly, in the proper place.
- If you fill out the form by hand, write legibly and use a dark blue or black ink.
- Attached documents (medical bills, x-rays) should not be torn, bent, folded, paper-clipped or stapled.
You will also need to track down and obtain copies of all the identification and other documents requested on the form. Medical records are regulated by Federal privacy rules, and military records requests are delayed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Gathering all your materials may take several weeks.
Eligibility for a VA Disability Claim
Under the VA code of regulations, you may be eligible for disability benefits if:
- You are a U.S. military veteran
- Suffering from a medical condition
- That resulted from an injury, illness event while you were in-service
Note: You may qualify for a Veteran disability benefit even if you are not fully disabled and are still able to work.
If you qualify for disability compensation relating to your military service, you will receive a monthly monetary payment. Your disability rating by the Department will determine how much you receive each month.
Documents You Might Need For Your VA Disability Claim
There are certain documents you will need to file any Veterans Disability claim or appeal a denied claim:
- Your DD214 or other separation documents
- Your service treatment records
- Any medical evidence related to your illness or injury (like doctor’s reports, X-rays, and medical test results)
Proving Your Disability Is Related To Your Service
Some disability claims are denied because the VA determines that the injured vet is ineligible. It is important to include evidence that:
- The veteran has a real disability
- The disability is connected to the veteran’s military service
Disability Compensation Available to U.S. Military Veterans
Military veterans who were injured in connection with their military service can receive compensation for a number of injuries and disabilities. These include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Orthopedic Damage
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Psychiatric Disorders (anxiety, panic, mood, schizophrenia or adjustment disorders)
Presumptive Conditions for Veteran Disability Claims
The VA recognizes certain Presumptive Conditions eligible for veterans disability compensation. This means the VA will assume the veteran has the disability and qualifies for compensation based on when and where the veteran served. This can include:
- Prisoners of War (POWs)
- Vietnam War Veterans exposed to Agent Orange
- Gulf War Veterans with undiagnosed illnesses
Veterans Disability and Pre-Existing Conditions
A Veteran’s disability claim may be denied if the disability is determined to be a pre-existing condition. However, if the disability is related to a pre-existing condition that was aggravated by military service, the veteran may still be eligible for benefits.
Benefits for Survivors of Disabled and Deceased Veterans
From the earliest days of the Republic, America has sought to care for the widows and orphans of those who gave their bodies and lives to defend the nation. This tradition has been expanded, and a Veteran’s family can often recover death benefits and accrued benefits that were not paid before the veteran passed away.
Reasons a Disabled Veteran May Be Ineligible for Benefits
Veterans Disability claims may also be denied if the applicants were:
- Dishonorably discharged
- Injured by their own misconduct
- Injured while absent without leave (AWOL)
- Injured while being detained for a felony or imprisoned
If Your Veterans Disability Claim Was Denied, You Can Appeal
If your Veterans disability claim was denied, you can still file an appeal with the VA.
In many cases, it is absolutely worth it to appeal. Almost two-thirds of VA claims are denied for minor reasons like incomplete information or missing evidence.
There are several appeals processes, depending on when you were injured and filed your first claim.
Legacy Appeal: Disability Claims Filed Before February 19, 2019
If you filed your disability claim before February 19, 2019, you can appeal if you filed a Notice of Disagreement after receiving your denial.
If your appeal was denied, you may be able to file a Supplemental Claim.
You can learn more about the Legacy Appeal process here.
If you would like to speak to an Austin disability benefits attorney about your claim denial, Justinian & Associates offers an entirely free consultation with an attorney.
We have handled hundreds of veterans disability cases and appeals. We will listen to the details of your case, review your claim and explain your options under the law. There is no obligation, and no fee unless you receive compensation.
New Appeal Process: Disability Claims Filed After February 19, 2019
The Department of Veteran Affairs has changed its Appeal Process for disability claims that were denied. Claims that were filed after February 19, 2019 and then rejected can opt for three levels of review to reconsider their claims:
Supplemental Claims for Denied Veterans Disability Claims
Initial disability claims are often rejected because they did not provide the evidence needed to support their claim. This might include:
- Medical records from the VA or other healthcare providers that explain how the disability occurred
- Printed diagnosis or other information from healthcare providers
- Military records showing how the injury was connected to military service
In other cases, there may be new information the applicant has learned since the claim was rejected.
NOTE: It is important to file a supplemental claim within one year from your claim denial. Do not wait, or you may lose your opportunity to appeal.
According to the VA Department, a supplemental claim should take 4-5 months.
Higher-Level Review for Denied Veterans Disability Claims
Some claims are denied even though the Veteran submitted all the evidence. The VA reviewer may decide the disability was a pre-existing condition, or was unrelated to military service.
In these cases, the disability claim applicant can download the form and request a Higher-Level Review. A more senior reviewer will look at the case and evidence and see if the VA’s decision should be changed.
The more senior reviewer will first contact the veteran by phone to discuss the claim. The senior reviewer is looking for an error or difference of opinion that might change the decision.
Therefore it is important to point out specific errors and incorrect opinions in the decision. In addition, the veteran cannot submit new evidence in a Higher-Level Review.
Be certain to review your original claim denial and identify which facts and evidence should be reviewed by the Higher-Level reviewer.
You may want to speak with a disability claims denial attorney in Austin that can help determine why the claim was rejected, and how to explain that the VA’s decision was incorrect.
Higher level reviews can take 4-5 months to receive a decision.
NOTE: A Higher-Level Review must be requested no more than ONE YEAR after the original disability claim (or a Supplemental Claim) is denied. Do not wait, or you may lose your opportunity to appeal.
Board Appeal for Denied Veterans Disability Claims
Veterans who do not agree with the decisions they received after a Supplemental Claim or Higher-Level Review can download the form and appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
A Veterans Law Judge with expertise in Veterans law will review the case.
- The applicant must identify and state errors made in the VA’s decision.
- Applicants can submit additional evidence.
- Applicants can also request a hearing with the judge.
- In-person hearings take place in Washington, DC.
- Video conference hearings are available at local VA locations.
- Video hearings from the applicant’s home are also available during the Covid-19 pandemic.
If the Board of Veterans’ Appeals still denies the claim, the veteran applicant can:
- Contact the local VA office to request the claim is reopened.
- File a motion with the Board of Veteran’s Appeals requesting another review for ‘clear and unmistakable error’.
- File an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
This can be a complicated procedure that requires knowledge of disability law and court rules. Consider speaking with a veterans disability attorney who can help you navigate the court system and make the strongest case.
An Austin Personal Injury Firm That Knows What You’re Up Against
These are complex matters, and the appeals process can be extremely challenging without an experienced and knowledgeable Veterans disability attorney to help.
Warriors For The Injured
Justinian & Associates has over a decade of experience and knowledge of how to successfully resolve a Veterans disability claim, in Austin, Texas or nationally.
Our Austin VA disability attorneys, investigators and support teams painstakingly gather and examine the facts relevant to every case, including finding expert witnesses, visual aids and other technology to demonstrate what caused your injury and who was at fault, so that the real victim can recover.
As our record demonstrates, we have the legal knowledge, the experience, the resources, experience and trained investigators to take on adversaries of any size.
Talking To An Austin Personal Injury Attorney At Justinian & Associates Costs Nothing
Our dedicated roster of Austin personal injury lawyers are well-trained in these areas of law, and offer an absolutely free consultation to hear the specific details of your disability claim and let you know your options.
You Don’t Pay Unless We Win Your Case
We do not accept defeat. That means unless we get you money for your injuries, you don’t pay us a dime.
We work on a contingency-fee basis. That means our pay depends upon whether we recover money for you or not. So if we work on your case and fail, you won’t owe a dime.
The important thing is to make the phone call, and start explaining your side of the story.
Your Rights Can Be Lost If You Wait
Veterans disability claims that have been denied must be appealed within one year of the denial.
In addition, statutes of limitation are laws that limit how much time you have to file a lawsuit after being injured. Statutes of limitation in Texas or other states may apply to your veteran disability claims denial lawsuit. Don’t let your rights expire.
All We Do Is Fight For Injured Victims
Our only goal is justice for our clients, whatever that means for them.
We understand that the well-being and livelihood of you and your loved ones may be at stake.
Call, text or email us for a free consultation, with no obligation. Speak to an Austin personal injury attorney from Justinian & Associates (not a “screener” or paralegal) to understand your rights.