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Archive for Helpful Hints and Advice – Page 2

Get to know the face of our blog

One of our goals in 2016 was to do a “makeover” to our online presence for our VA disability outlets. This includes this blog, and our main website, fight4vets.com. One of the crucial aspects of this Jason Watkins 018redesign involved having more of a military presence. This meant we needed imagery of a person in uniform. Most places will simply go to a stock photography website, purchase some generic pics of a person in uniform, and blend into the background like so many other websites. We didn’t create one of the best VA disability blogs just to look like everyone else. In fact, it is extremely rare that we use any stock photography in any post. It’s not authentic, and it takes away from the story we are trying to tell. In the past our firm’s IT Specialist stepped up to help us out. Alex is a former Marine who loves to get his picture taken. He’s always done a great job for us, but Alex recently started an intensive workout routine that made him much healthier, but unfortunately for us, meant he couldn’t fit in his uniform now. We have another Veteran on staff, John Hicks, who served in the Army recently. However, he recently moved from his home state of Mississippi, and left his uniforms with his mother for safe keeping. So, my favorite Marine and Soldier were both unavailable…I had to turn to the Air Force.

Jason Watkins 056Luckily, many of our employees are passionate about the military, and several team members married people who are serving in the military. The first person who came to mind was one of our social security staff members, Tricia Watkins. I remembered from one of our Veterans Day tributes that she had mentioned her husband was in the Air Force, and still serving. I approached her and had her ask her husband to participate. He said yes, and now he’s all over our website, blog and miscellaneous promotions. I am not quite sure he knew what he was getting himself into when he agreed to be my “model,” but I am glad he did.

I wanted to take an opportunity to give you some information about the person most of you will see when you read one of our blog posts. First of all, his name is Jason Watkins, and he is a member of the Air Force Reserves. Jason and Tricia recently transferred from Parkersburg, WV to Charlotte, NC. I asked Tricia to tell me a little about Jason for our blog. She first stated that he was originally from Marietta, Ohio. Honestly, if I would have known that beforehand, I would have found someone else. I am of course kidding, but the West Virginia/Ohio rivalry is well established, and I couldn’t resist a jab at a “Buckeye.” Tricia also told me that Jason is 29 years old and has an associate’s degree in business administration.  He hopes to return to school to get his bachelor’s degree once things settle down. Together Jason and Tricia have two sons, Kaleb who is 4 and Ian who is 2. Tricia stated that they are actually approaching their 6 year wedding anniversary in October.

I asked what Jason likes to do on his spare time, and what I found almost made me hire another person to the face of our VA business. She said that he is a Cleveland Browns fan. That was incrediblyJason Watkins 092 disappointing. As a Texans fan, I could not believe I had photographed a Browns fan for my blog. Jason is lucky that he is photogenic and everything had already been published. (Always do your research.) Once again, I am kidding. I care more about the uniform he wears then the one he is a fan of. Jason also enjoys fishing and spending time with his family.

When it comes to his military service, Jason joined the Air Force to not only serve our country but to get the training and experience he needs for his military job as a fire fighter. Jason would love to be a civilian fire fighter too.

Using a real Veteran or active duty service member brings some authenticity to our blog. This log is successful because we tell stories, real stories, about VA disability. It just makes the most sense to me to have a real Veteran, in this case, an Airman, be the face of the blog.

Since our photo shoot last October, Jason’s image has been use in a bunch of posters and Facebook ads to promote our Veterans Week, he is on the homepage of our blog and fight4vets.com, and he’s even the current header on our Twitter page. I doubt if Jason thought about being a model when he joined the Air Force, but now he has an interesting story to tell his friends.

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7 Goals Veterans Should Set For VA Disability Claims In 2016

Jason Watkins 086It’s safe to say that I’m not the only one who hates New Year’s Eve. It’s pointless. Who wants to stay up just to watch a ball of light drop 40 feet? I’ll even go as far as saying that New Year’s was just made up to sell more calendars. Kidding aside, it seems like more and more people aren’t fans of this holiday, and that is fine by me. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals for the New Year, especially when it pertains to your VA Disability Claim. Setting goals will keep you on track, and can possibly get you service connected quicker. So, here are 7 goals to set for your VA disability claim in 2016.
1. Stay Positive. There’s nothing worse than going through a difficult situation and then having someone who’s not going through it tell you to stay positive. No, I’m not a Veteran and I’ll never be able to file a VA disability claim, but I do know a lot about them. Staying positive in 2016 will help you with the remainder of your goals. Further, our law firm is up front with every Veteran we talk to. If we don’t believe that we can get you service connected, we will tell you why. We don’t believe it’s fair to give someone false hope.
2. Get Treatment. Like many Veterans I hate making trips to see the doctor. It can be expensive, the people in the waiting rooms are annoying and they never get my Grey’s Anatomy jokes. But, as I’ve been preaching for the past 5 years, treatment is what wins cases. So, if you are pursuing a VA disability claim, set a goal to get regular treatment in 2016. Keep in mind that treatment does not always mean going to the doctor. For instance, if you have headaches, keep a journal detailing the pain and duration of each headache. Or, if you are struggling with PTSD, look into yoga or joining a Veterans organization as alternative treatments.
3. Don’t compare yourself to other Veterans. Too often I hear Veterans get upset when talking about how another Veteran got his benefits in 6 months while he has had been waiting for three years. I’ll be the first to admit that it completely sucks when your peers are further along than you are and they don’t have to put in the effort. I deal with it too. However, that is just the way the system is and there isn’t much we can do change it. Every case is different and every regional office operates at different speeds. Focus on your own case. Perhaps there are reasons why your friend was connected so quickly. It’s possible they aren’t being upfront with you too.
4. Don’t wait to file appeals. This is one of those times when I really need to practice what I preach. I love putting things off. For instance, I was intending on writing this blog in December. But, in the world of VA Disability, putting things off is extremely counterproductive. Here is a good example: When you file your initial claim for benefits you have 365 days from the time the VA makes a decision to file an appeal. More often than not I speak to Veterans who wait until day 352 to file their appeal. Or they come to us the day before it expires and need it appealed as soon as possible. The VA is already going to delay your claim a lot on their own. On average it still takes about 2-4 years for your final decision to come through. In the meantime, anything you can do to keep your claim from getting delayed can make a big difference.
photos 4 0545. Educate yourself on the process. There is too much hearsay in the world of VA Disability. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to members of REO Speedwagon when discussing the process. They heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend, who heard it from another that you can’t service connect for non-combat PTSD. Well, this is simply not the case. I’ve even seen other VA attorneys aren’t accurate when it comes to VA disability. Coming to this blog is a great first step. However, there are other ways to educate yourself. The VA website is a great first step. They actually have a lot of good information. Set up a Google Alert for VA Disability or even speak with your representative. I am always happy to answer any questions for Veterans.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While I never served in the military, I am well aware of the lack of information out there for individuals as they approach discharge regarding disability. Many Vets are not aware that they can even file for benefits. So they definitely aren’t aware that this process is difficult. If you find yourself struggling with appeals or with submitting evidence, you can get help. Talk to a service officer or better yet, contact an attorney for a free consultation today. One thing I hear often that brings a smile to my face is when a Veteran says he or she wished they had talked to me sooner. It means they trust me and they are often relived to have talked to me. It’s free. The worst thing that will happen is that we won’t take you on as a client. If that happens, we will still try to help by providing more information about other services.
7. Talk to other Veterans. While this is not exactly related to VA Disability, too often Vets isolate themselves from other Veterans. There are a lot of great Veteran Based Organizations out there and you can probably find one that will help you out a lot. It can be a motorcycle club, a Student Veteran organization at college, or even a group who is involved politically, like the IAVA. It’s important to know you’re not alone in this world.
The New Year is only a few days old. It’s not too late to set some goals. Veterans who are active in their claims stand a better chance to get service connected. While it may seem time consuming or pointless at times to set goals, it works. If you would like to know more about the process, or would like to talk to me about your claim, call me toll free: 1-877-526-3457. You may also fill out this form if you’d rather we call you at a later time.

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Answers to the most common questions Veterans have about VA Disability

It’s no secret that our firm helps a lot of Veterans. Since 2008 we have helped thousands of Vets get the benefits they deserve. In that time we have gained a lot of knowledge about the process and veterans-service-connect-knee-instabilitywe’ve noticed a few trends along the way. Since we’ve worked with so many Vets, we have compiled a list of the most common questions new clients ask when they call. Use this blog as a guide. Veterans new to the VA Disability process should find it very helpful.

  • How long will the process take? Practically every Vet will ask this when they call our office for the first time. Sadly, the answer really has not changed in my time with the firm. It takes anywhere from 2-4 years for most Veterans to be completely satisfied. That is absurd. If I had a child the first day you came to me for help, it would be old enough to resent me by the time your claim was completely over. Now, if someone tells you they can you get connected quicker, they are a liar and really shouldn’t be trusted. Why? The reason is that there are really only two ways to speed up a case; terminal illness and economic hardship. Honestly, the latter is pretty rare. We have seen some clients get connected because of economic hardship, but it is as rare as a good Nicholas Cage film that this is actually successful. However, if you are facing an economic hardship, we encourage you to pursue the expedited process.
  • I didn’t treat in service, can I still get connected? Honestly, it depends. Certain issues like PTSD don’t require treatment or a diagnosis in treatment. If you are treated and diagnosed on some mental disabilities after service, you can get connected. Also, some physical issues can be dx and treated after service. An example of this would be someone who was an Airborne Ranger is likely to have several jumps in service. They may not have immediate issues with their ankles, feet and back, but shortly after discharge they will most likely have some level of pain in these areas. With any physical condition though, getting treatment is important. If you get discharged, have back issues, and then don’t treat, you aren’t likely to get connected.
  • Is there a secret to getting approved? Actually, there is one thing Veterans can do to get approved: seek treatment. I’ve seen so many Veterans get denied because blog_photos_084_w1024they either didn’t get treatment or they had huge gaps in their treatment history. Let’s say you want to file for your knee. If you were discharged in the 80’s and then didn’t see a doctor about your knee until 2013, the VA will determine that it’s not a chronic issue. If your condition is not chronic, then the VA will not grant service connection.
  • Why did my friend get service connected on claim X, but I was denied on it? The simple answer is that every claim is different and everyone’s medical history is different. Unless you and your friend had the exact same experience, you’re not going to have the same results. For instance, I recently had a client who claimed several Gulf War Illness Presumptive Conditions. The issue was that he was in Turkey. The country of Turkey is not recognized as a Gulf War country. However, Iraq borders Turkey and is covered under Gulf War Illness. So, an individual serving just a few hundred miles away from my client would have valid claims, but my client does not. Sometimes slight differences like that make a world of difference. VA Disability is nuanced.
  • Can I still work? That answer can be quite simple. For the most part, Veterans receiving VA Disability can still work full time. This is true even if you are 100% service connected. The only exception would be if you were receiving Individual Unemployability. This is a special claim for Veterans who can’t work, and meet other eligibility requirements. Also, Veterans receiving Pension need to pay special attention to how much they receive. This is a separate, needs based program, which is separate from VA Disability Compensation.
  • Do I make too much money for VA Disability Compensation? No you don’t. The reason is simple: VA Disability is not income based. So, even if you are a billionaire, you can still receive VA disability compensation.

 

These questions are the most common questions we receive. We are often asked more specific questions depending upon the Veteran. We are always happy to answer questions for our clients. Our consultations are free, so if you have a question, call me today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you are available right now, fill out this form for a free consultation.

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What Veterans Need to Know About Meniere’s Disease

If I were to travel back in time four years to do one thing to better prepare myself for a career in Veteran’s Disability, I would have taken a couple of classes in anatomy and physiology. I think photos 4 039 - Copylearning more about the body as whole, certain diseases, or even certain symptoms would have helped me significantly. At the very least, I could have read Gray’s Anatomy instead of watching Grey’s Anatomy to broaden my knowledge of the body. By relying on the latter option I know have an understanding of the complexity of being a modern doctor on the go, but can’t tell you the difference between radiculopathy and neuropathy.

Why am I bringing up my television habits again in this blog? It actually started a few years ago when I was talking to a Veteran about his claim. While discussing his case he mentioned that he has been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. Before I go on too much further, I want to make it clear that I’m not completely inept. The fine educators at West Virginia University made a glorious attempt to educate me. The sad fact of the matter is that when you study communications in graduate school, you’re not likely to spend a lot of time on the anatomy of the ear. I shared my background because I want you to understand my follow up question to his inquiry. I asked if it had something to do with working in a coal mine. Please don’t judge. He was from southern West Virginia, spoke with an accident, and did work in coal mine. When he spoke I thought he had said “miner’s disease.” This is why I believe a few anatomy classes would have helped me significantly.

After my embarrassing encounter I decided to do research on Meniere’s disease so that I would not seem foolish again. It turns out the Meniere’s disease actually affects the inner ear. According to a place I learned about on Grey’s Anatomy, The Mayo Clinic, Meniere’s is actually quite serious.  They state that Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes spontaneous episodes of vertigo along with fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear. I also feel obligated to inform you that Meniere’s disease is traditionally a chronic condition.

When I mentioned that Meniere’s disease was serious I didn’t mean to imply that is was life threatening. It’s serious in realm of Veterans Disability because a Veteran can actually get service connected for Meniere’s disease up to 100%. In fact, there are only three ratings for Meniere’s disease in the 38 CFR. Those ratings include 30%, 60% and 100% service connected.

My intention with this blog has always been to educate Veterans. I am not concerned with impressing VA Disability Attorneys. With that in mind, I am not going to go over the different criteria for the different ratings. Just keep in mind that the biggest difference in the ratings involves vertigo attacks and cerebellar gait.

Prior to researching this blog I did not realize the severity in which Meniere’s disease can impact a person’s life. I’m glad I felt compelled to investigate the symptoms so that I may better serve the Veterans who are wishing to get service connected for this condition.

If you are struggling with Meniere’s disease, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll free number is: 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather speak us at a different time, use our online chat, or fill out this form to schedule a free consultation.

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6 Things to look for when selecting a VA Disability Attorney

Have you ever tried to pick out a contractor? If you search for a contractor in your area via a Google search you will likely have dozens of results. The same holds true if you look the old fashioned way in the Yellow selecting_atty_w1024pages. It can often be hard to select someone based solely on an internet listing or an ad in the phone book. This holds true for selecting a VA Disability Attorney too. So, you may be asking yourself the following question: “How can I select a Veteran’s Disability Attorney?” Just follow these 6 tips and your search will be a lot more successful.

  1. Do they practice VA Law? This may seem silly, but when you are searching for a VA Disability Attorney you will likely get a lot of results for attorneys who only handle Social Security Disability, or another type of law. However, they have their website set up to grab individuals who are searching for VA Disability too because they may be able to get social security benefits if they are qualified for VA Disability. As an individual who works in social media, I know this practice to be true. Further, any individual who practices VA Law must be accredited by the Office of General Council. It’s important to note that this accreditation also applies to non-attorneys who may represent you from a service organization. If you feel suspicious about the person that may be working on your claim, ask them about their accreditation.
  2. Be cautious of the “Jack of All Trades.” The reason being that these firms are likely a master of none. Granted, it’s possible that a big law firm can handle your VA claim easily. However, pay close attention to the type of laws they practice. It’s possible that they may list VA Disability as one of their specialties but actually have very few clients or experience in that field. Jan Dils Attorneys at Law focuses solely on Social Security Disability and VA Disability. Because of the complexity of these two areas of law, and the fact that we want to provide the best possible customer service to our clients, we only practice social security and VA disability. It’s kind of like having heart surgery. You wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who spends most of his time as working as a dermatologist. Instead, you’d rather have a cardiologist perform your open heart surgery.
  3. Experience. While I don’t personally believe that this is the only factor to look at in searching for a VA Attorney, it is something to consider. How long has the firm been in business? How long has the attorney been practicing VA Law? Are they accredited?
  4. Reviews and Online Presence. You can easily find reviews of an attorney online if they have a good online presence. This will include Google, Facebook, and so on. Reviews are most often written by individuals who have used the service prior. These reviews can be both positive and negative. Honestly, more people pay attention to reviews over any other type of information regarding a law firm. While also looking at a firm through online resources, look at what they publish on their Facebook or Twitter profile. This will give you a good idea of the type of people who will represent you.
  5. Fees. Pay close attention to the fee agreement. What services are you being charged for? Are they upfront with fees regarding medical records, travel, and other items that go beyond representation?
  6. Trust your instincts. If you call a firm, research them online, or ask around, you are going to get an impression about who they are. Perhaps when you call the individuals you speak to seem ill-informed. Or maybe they have mostly bad reviews on Google. Regardless, your impression of the organization is likely backed up by what your “get feeling.” If the attorney you found seems like they won’t properly represent you, then you need to continue to search for the person who will best represent you.

Read More: 7 Misconceptions Veterans Have When Hiring an Attorney

It’s not easy to find the right attorney for a VA Disability Claim. Remember these key factors and your search will be a lot easier. If you want to learn more about hiring an attorney, or if you’d like to learn about what the Attorneys at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law can do for you, give me a call now. Our consultation is free and we are always up front with our clients. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather talk to someone at a later time, fill out this form, and we’ll call you at a more convenient time.

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How Veterans can service connect for knee instability

On Valentine’s Day 2006 I crashed my Kia Optima into a tree. It was snowing out, and I was on my way to my former employer. At the time I was working at a pool store and it was so very important for me to get to work that day. Keep in mind that I live in West Virginia, it was snowing, and no one was interested in buying a pool that day, but it was important that I make it in to work. When I called to say I couldn’t make it in, I was met with utter disdain. I would later find out that being relieved of my position there would eventually lead to me finding employment that actually matters. I would also later find out that the wreck really messed up my right knee. I was reminded of this fact the other day at the gym when I tried to be someone who exercises. My knee injury came back in full force, and I was forced to leave the gum early. The “walk of shame” out of the facility ended with me nearly falling in the parking lot. As I gracefully flopped into my car I recall thinking that I should write a blog about instability when it comes to VA Disability.

Many Veterans know that they can service connect for their joints, especially their knees. The knees are a very common claim because of how much wear and tear all Veterans face in the military. Think about all of the exercise Veterans have to do on a daily basis. If you add to that the fact that many Veterans have Military Occupations that are very physically intense, it’s no wonder there are so many claims for knees active today. Take for instance Vets who are Army Rangers. One of their duties includes jumping out of airplanes. I’ve talked to many Vets who were Rangers, and it is not uncommon for them to have 40-50 jumps over their career. Recently a Veteran who served as a ranger enlighten me to the fact that they have to do a lot of training and mock jumps that involve heavy impacts. These mock jumps aren’t counted as part of the jump total, but they can have just as much impact on the knees as a traditional jump.

Read Further: The 10 Biggest Myths About VA Disability

So, it’s easy to see how an individual’s knees can be rated for disability. However, each knee usually tops out at 30%, and that is only after a knee replacement. Replacements are somewhat rare unless you are older, so must Veterans will be rated anywhere from 0-20% on a knee. (Before someone says “I know someone who is rated at 50% on his knee,” keep in mind this is for a general claim. I could spend days going on about how nuanced rating codes are, but nobody wants to read that.) However, if your knees are causing you to be unstable, you can possibly file for instability.

Many of us would refer to this as your knee “giving out,” or becoming so weak that you fall. However, it does not necessarily have to be that severe. It can also include difficulty going up or down stairs, or even having difficulty with inclines. Keep in mind that not all Veterans who have knee issues will have instability. It is a very common side effect of knee issues, but is not the case in every knee claim. The majority of Veterans I talk to aren’t aware that they can even file a claim for instability of the knee. So if this is something you are having an issue with, be sure to talk to your doctor about treatment, and then look into filing a claim for Instability of the knee.

If this all sounds difficult and convoluted, I assure you that you are not wrong. VA disability is not easy. That is why so many people to turn to the experienced attorneys who represent Veterans for these types of claims. If you would like to know more about what our law firm can do for you, call me today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. Or if you can’t speak now, fill out this form and I will call you at a later time.

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5 goals Veterans should set in 2015 in order to get service connected

As 2014 comes to an end we are constantly reminded of all of the things we need to do in the new year to be successful. I really get tired of people asking me what my goals are for 2015. I’m now to the point where I just reply that my goals for 2015 involve marrying Jennifer Lawrence, winning an Oscar, and wrecking a Porsche 911 Turbo. This is a little ambitious for 2015, but I think it could happen. Plus it never hurts to aim high. While I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to my own goals and aspirations for 2015, I am not so facetious when it pertains to helping Veterans with goals for the New Year. Here are 5 goals every Veteran should set in 2015 to get service connected.

  1. Seek more treatment. I really don’t have time to recall how many times I've told Veterans that the key to a successful claim was seeking treatment. I can tell you that it was quite a bit. Keep in mind that treatment does not necessarily mean having a major operation. Sometimes it simply means updating your doctor at your yearly checkup. For others, this can mean getting a diagnosis for a claim, or getting back on medication that was once prescribed. 
  2. Keep Appointments. When the VA schedules you for a hearing or C&P exam it is very important to keep those appointments. Often times missing a C&P exam will result in a denial. Even though we had a Christmas in the mid 60’s I’ve been told that it’s winter. Usually that means snowy conditions in the east. If you can’t make it to an appointment because of weather or illness you have to be persistent when rescheduling. The VA will not bend over backwards to reschedule your exam.
  3. File for claims. I’ll be completing my fourth year with the firm in April. In that time I’ve seen the average age of our new clients drop significantly. Sadly thought, our younger Veterans are also not anymore aware of how to apply for benefits than that of Vets who served years ago. While there is not a lot of great info out there, I hear too many Veterans say that they didn’t apply because they weren’t sure how to get started. It can be as simple as asking someone, but you have to ask the right person. With that in mind, I have a goal in 2015 to reach more Veterans with my blog, and other social media outlets.
  4. Stay in touch with your attorney. Keeping up to date with your case is very important. It is a two way street. We have pledged to keep our clients informed, but we can’t always get in touch with those we represent. If you move, change phone numbers, or go to the doctor, we need to know about it. You can call, email, or even use our handy form located here.
  5. Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged just because you receive an unfavorable decision. Most Veterans get denied the first time they apply for benefits. Too often I’ve heard Veterans tell me that they simply give up at that point because they don’t believe they will ever get approved. That is not true. It may take a while, but we encourage you to continue fighting for the benefits you deserve.

As the clock strikes midnight tonight a new year starts and some new beginnings arrive. If your goal is to get your VA disability benefits in 2015, then give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t call, fill out this from instead, and one of our representatives will give you a call. 

 

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What Should You Do if the VA Takes Your Benefits Away?

Imagine logging into your bank account one day to see that your monthly VA Disability Check hasn’t been deposited. You would likely feel anger, confusion, and, depending on your situation, fear because you may be dependent on that monthly check to survive. I know a lot of Veterans experience because I have received several calls just like this since I started working for a VA Disability Attorney. I want to share some knowledge about what to do in this situation. If you encounter this issue in the future you can be better prepared to handle it, and may be able to resolve the issue quicker.

First of all, don’t call me. Wait, that seems crass. Is the writer of this a jerk? Depending on whom you ask the answer to that question may be yes. However, let me explain why I am not the first person you want to call when your benefits are taken away. I will often receive calls from Vets who realized that they didn’t receive their benefits one day, and they aren’t being represented by our firm. I may act like I know it all sometimes, but if we’ve never worked on your case before, then I actually know less about what is going on with your case than the VA does. If you don’t have an attorney representing you for your VA disability then you should really make your first call to the VA. Yes, you will have to call the toll free number, and it will likely be a long wait, but they can tell you if there was an issue.

What if the VA says that they sent you the check like normal? The best course of action here is to contact your bank. I have seen several Veterans not receive payments on time because of an issue with the establishment in which they bank. I live in a somewhat rural area. We have banks that are associated with a major national chain, like Chase, but we also have banks that are small and independent. Regardless of the type of bank you have, they may not accept a large transaction from any institution without talking to you prior. We see this more often when it comes to a back pay transfer as they tend to be larger, but it happens occasionally when a monthly benefit check is received. It could even be as simple as a processing error. Often times a quick call to your bank will solve this issue.

Read More: What Should I Do If I Owe the VA Money? 

What if it’s not your bank and the VA has informed you that they took you benefits away? In this case it is important to find out why. If there is an issue with an overpayment then you want to speak to the individuals who work in VA Debt Management. This may seem odd, and you may have to re-read this a few times, but I can honestly say that the people who work for VA Debt Management are very helpful. We've recommend a lot of Veterans to them over the years and they've been very pleased with the results. They will work with you to make a plan to recover any overpayment. You can reach VA Debt Management at 1-800-827-0648. Their website is very helpful too.

What if you don’t owe the VA money, but they are reducing your benefits because of an alleged change in your disability. This is when you want to call me. It is possible in this situation for us to keep your benefits from being reduced. This is dependent on a case by case evaluation. For instance, if you are service connected for a type of cancer, and it goes into remission, then a reduction in your benefits is correct according to the VA. However, there are other avenues to explore in a situation like this.

If you have found that your benefits have been reduced because of an alleged change in your disability, then give me a call for a free evaluation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather I call at a later time, fill out this form, and I will call you at a more convenient time. 

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How to Get The Benefits You Deserve (Part Two)

In a previous post I discussed how a Veteran becomes a client of ours. However, like every movie intended for a teen audience, it has to be broken up into two parts. Previously we discussed what it’s like to go through an initial assessment of claims, and we discussed the intake appointment as well as your new client paperwork, but what happens when that paperwork comes back to our office? Part two is what happens.

If you sit around our office for a while you will likely hear me say the following: “I wouldn’t send you paperwork if I didn’t think we could help you out.” In other words, once we send you paperwork we are taking you on as a client. It’s not until that paperwork returns to the office and is then submitted to the VA that we are actually your representative. That is why it is so important to return your paperwork in a timely manner. The sooner paperwork is returned, the sooner we can start working on your claim.

You might be wondering what happens in our office once that paperwork is returned. The first thing that happens is a quick check to make sure everything is filled out properly. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes on paperwork. If no errors are found, then your paperwork will be submitted to the VA. At this time your case manager will be tasked to introduce themselves to you. Your case manager is your primary contact point for your claim for the duration of your time with our firm. Case managers are individuals who are specially qualified to keep track of your case. They submit evidence, review forms, follow up on decisions, and really so much more. You might be wondering why you can’t just call in to speak with your attorney. That is actually a great question. Simply put, your attorney is usually not in the building. Our VA attorneys can usually be found in the courtroom representing other Veterans we are attempting to get service connected. This does not mean that you’ll never speak to them. All clients are set up with a prehearing appointment with their attorney prior to their actual hearings.

Submitting paperwork and getting to know your case manager is not the only thing that occurs when we get your paperwork back in the office. We will also request your claim file from the VA. Your claim file is extremely important for your case. Claim files are usually large paper files that contain admin records, entrance and separation exams, VA medical records, C&P Exams, previous claim records, and so much more.

If you’ve received a decision prior to contacting us then we will review it when we receive your paperwork. This is an important step in the early stages of our representation because it gives us a solid understanding of your case. Reviewing previous decisions also helps us know exactly where your case is at in the timeline. We often request that you send in a decision with your paperwork so that we can avoid missing a deadline for filing appeals.

Read More: 8 Steps to Speed up Your VA Disability Claim

If you haven’t applied to the VA before then we will review your initial application for benefits. We will submit this on your behalf so that we can verify the date in which the VA receives your file. We do this in case we need to argue dates for back pay later on.

Becoming a client of ours is simple process. It may seem a little complicated at time, but we have been doing this quite a while now, and we have streamlined the process. We also have a staff full of friendly individuals who are willing to assist you at every step of the way. If you would like to discuss your case with someone, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather we call you at a later time, fill out this form now, and one of our associates will call you at a more convenient time.

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Tips to keep Veterans focused during the fall and winter months.

Last week was the opening of the NFL season. My beloved Houston Texans won, which made me pretty happy. However, the season kickoff also made me a little annoyed because it means that fall is here. That means winter is just around the corner, and thus bad times are ahead. For me winter means snow, firewood, and dressing in layers. I hate all of those things. Since I can’t move to Houston yet, I kind of have to deal with the weather. Winter also means that I will not be interacting with as many Veterans as I do during the warmer months.

Fall and winter are busy times for everyone. We get distracted by kids going back to school, preparing for cold weather if you live in a part of America that is not Florida, and even the holiday season. This can be an issue for Veterans who are pursuing VA Disability. Even though what I am saying may seem false, it’s not: The VA does not take time off. Granted, they aren’t usually open on Christmas or Thanksgiving, but they are working just as hard during the third and fourth quarter as any other organization. Maybe I shouldn’t assume so much about the VA working hard. Let’s just say they are working during the winter months. If you get a denial letter in the mail, there is no reason to hesitate on pursuing an appeal. While the winter months can be hectic, I have compiled 4 tips to help keep a claim going smoothly during the cold months.

  1. Keep your appointments! Some of us have this stuff called snow, and it makes traveling very difficult. Many Veterans have to travel long distances in order to get to a VA hospital. There is no need to wreck your car if traveling is compromised by snow. Simply call to reschedule your appointment with the VA. You will have to be proactive about this though as the VA is not going to call you back to reschedule. The same can be said about VA hearings. If your appointment is cancelled, or if you can’t make it, then get it rescheduled as soon as possible. This is a circumstance in which having an attorney will come in handy. We are able to contact the VA about reschedules in an efficient manner.
  2. Don’t procrastinate. I’m the biggest fan of putting things off to last minute. In fact, if there was a show about procrastinating, I’d probably put off watching it for a few seasons. While TV shows can wait, VA disability can’t. I talk to Veterans who want to wait until the New Year to file for benefits. There is simply no reason to wait until you have to buy a new calendar to file for benefits. The same can be said for filing appeals, new claims, and reopens. To put it simply, you don’t have time to wait. There is a time limit. Once you get into the appeals process there are time limits at every level. Just because the VA gives you one year to file a Notice of Disagreement doesn’t mean you have to wait until day 360 to file an appeal. Once you get to the SOC, and the SSOC, the time limits are quite shorter. Missing the deadline will result in losing back pay. Once again, having an attorney will help alleviate some of the stress from these deadlines.
  3. If you have an attorney, or even if you’re working with a service organization, don’t hesitate to call them during the winter months. We generally tell our clients to check in at least once a month to see what is going on with their case. There is a good chance that nothing new is happening, but it’s good to call in with updated information at this time, or new appointments.
  4. Seek help. The winter months can be a tough time for us all. We see all of these commercials about Veterans coming home to loving families, but the realist in me knows that is not always the case. A lot of Veterans are alone, or may be even be isolated in their family. Going at it alone is never easy. I am a big fan of seeking out recreation in non-traditional forms. For Veterans, seeing a counselor can be difficult. While I do recommend seeing a counselor, it’s a good idea to supplement that with something that gets you around other Veterans with similar experiences.  This is especially true if you are living alone or have limited interaction with others.

Follow these simple tips in the upcoming months and you will likely see more efficient results in your VA Disability claim. If you would like to know more about what a law firm like Jan Dils attorneys at Law can do for your claim, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you aren’t in a good position to talk right now, fill out this form, and a member of our staff will contact you at a more convenient time. 

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