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Veterans with PTSD or Other Mental Health Issues

A Lifeline for Veterans with PTSD or Other Mental Health Issues

By Jan Dils · May 20, 2019
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Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Did you know that 30 percent of active duty and reserve military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition requiring treatment? Of that percentage, approximately 730,000 men and women experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression.

Here is where we as a nation are failing our Veterans: Only 50 percent of returning Veterans receive mental health treatment. According to the Veterans Administration (VA), approximately 22 Veterans die by suicide every day.

In recognition of Mental Health Month in May, the VA has launched “The Moment When” campaign, a nationwide effort that started May 1, 2019, featuring Veterans’ personal experiences with mental health treatment and recovery. The campaign aims to demystify mental health treatment, build awareness of available mental health resources, and encourage family members and friends to start the conversation with a Veteran going through a hard time.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a serious issue that can often go untreated. If you are a family member or friend of a Vet, think about the mentality of a person willing to risk life and limb for our country. They are brave, strong and therefore among the most likely to perceive mental issues as a weakness.

“The Moment When” campaign highlights many moments in the broader mental health recovery process: from the moment when a Veteran reached out for support, to the moment when the Veteran realized treatment was working.

Throughout the month of May and beyond, we encourage Veterans and their families to visit MaketheConnection.net/MHM to explore stories of recovery and find local resources.

Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Let Us Help You

At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we applaud the efforts of the VA to help our Veterans transition to civilian life. However, the system has yet to be perfected and many of our disabled Veterans continue to fall through the cracks or get the runaround. If you are a Veteran and have developed PTSD as a result of your service, you are likely eligible for Veterans’ disability benefits. Please do not become a statistic. First and foremost, get the help you need. Then call Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation at 877-526-3457. If you would prefer to correspond with us electronically, you can also fill out a form and we will contact you during our business hours.

How Range of Motion Impacts Your VA Disability Claim

By Jan Dils · January 21, 2019
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Regardless of their branch of service or Military Occupational Specialty, most Veterans had a physically demanding experience while serving. This is obvious for Veterans who served in combat, but it may not be as obvious for those weren’t in combat. Everyday life in the Military is physically demanding. Everything from ruck marches to the type of footwear you’re required to wear can take a toll on the body. It’s no surprise that so many Veterans have issues with their joints. Regardless of whether it’s their knees, ankles, shoulders, or other joints, many Veterans file claims for joint-related issues.

So, if joint issues are common, and it makes sense that many Vets suffer from joint-related medical conditions, it should be easy for Vets to service-connect for VA Disability pertaining to joint conditions, right? Unfortunately, it can be far from easy. While there are many issues that make this process difficult, one of the more common reasons has to do with something known as “range of motion.”

Our firm has represented Veterans for more than a decade, and we have been helping individuals get their Social Security Disability benefits since 1994. So far, we have yet to have a client approach us about a joint issue because their range of motion is limited. Instead, most Veterans want to file a VA Disability claim for a joint because they have some sort of pain. Perhaps they can’t stand for a long period of time because their ankles hurt, or they can’t lift as much as they used to because of their knee pain. Unfortunately, the VA rates joint conditions based on a range of motion, and not on pain alone.

What is Range of Motion?

According to verywellhealth.com, Range of Motion (ROM) is the measurement of the amount of movement around a specific joint or body part. It is commonly measured during a physical therapy evaluation or during a course of treatment. Other impairments that your physical therapist may measure include strength, gait, flexibility, or balance.

How do I get service-connected?

While it may seem like an uphill battle, getting service-connected for a joint issue is possible. However, you do need to check a few things off your list first. One of the most crucial items is treatment in service. If your knees were treated in the service, it will help immensely with your claim. Also helpful is a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) which dealt with a lot of wear and tear. For instance, if you had to perform a lot of parachute jumps, worked as a mechanic, or were in combat, it will help establish proof that your injuries were a result of your time in service.

Treatment in service alone may not be enough to get service-connected. Treatment after service is important, too. Seeing your doctor regularly and receiving treatment for your joint condition will also help your claim. These medical records can be submitted to the VA as evidence for your claim. While we’re on the topic of medical treatment, it’s imperative to be free from large gaps in treatment. If you didn’t treat in service and had a gap in treatment of five years or more, it may be difficult to get service-connected.

Finally, if your injury is impacting your job, it may help your claim. For instance, if you must take a lot of breaks because of your shoulder pain due to an injury sustained while in the Military, or if you must have some sort of special accommodation to perform your duties because of your injury/condition from the Military, you can use this as evidence, too.

Dealing with the VA can be a difficult and complicated task. That’s why so many people turn to experienced law firms like Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. Since 2008, we’ve helped thousands of Veterans get the VA Disability benefits they deserve. For a free consultation, call us at 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can contact you at a better time.

5 Things Veterans Need To Do To Get Their VA Disability Claim Approved in 2019

By Jan Dils · January 2, 2019
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2019 has started, and that means it’s time for new goals for the new year. If you’re a Veteran one of your goals for 2019 might be getting your VA Disability Claim approved. If this is one of your goals for the new year, it may be a difficult task. Claims are still backlogged, and more Veterans are applying for service connection. Don’t let that discourage you though. There are certain things you can do this year to help you get the benefits you deserve.

  1. File for benefits. If you haven’t applied for VA disability benefits before, take the time today to You can’t get approved if you don’t apply first. Applying is easier than ever. You can apply online via the VA website. One of the benefits of applying online is that you can save your progress and come back to the application if you need to take a break. This is also helpful if you need to get additional paperwork. For instance, if you need to look at the date of your DD-214, you can pause the application while you find the information you need. It’s also easier to submit the application online too. However, if you’d rather fill out your application the traditional way, you still can. The application is tricky though. You may want to seek help when filing for your benefits. Our law firm will help you with your initial application.
  2. Get treatment. This was on our list in 2018, 2017, and every list since this blog started in 2011. And (spoiler alert,) seeking treatment will also be on our 2020 list. Treatment is the most important aspect of any VA Disability Claim. Treatment is the evidence the VA uses to approve or deny your claim. Treatment can be obtained from a medical professional like a doctor, but that does not have to be the only type of treatment you receive. For instance, if you have PTSD, you may seek treatment from a doctor, but if you attend some sort of PTSD Support Group, that too can be considered a form of treatment. Not only does it show the VA that you have the condition, but it also proves that you are treating for your PTSD. Even if you do nothing else on this list this year, be sure to get medical treatment.
  3. Don’t procrastinate. This may be one of the most difficult goals to accomplish this year, but it’s one of the most important things to consider when pursuing VA Disability Benefits. The reason why it’s so important to be prompt with the VA is that they have some strict deadlines. If you wait too long and miss an appeal, your claim will automatically close. If your claim closes you will lose your backpay date. If you lose your backpay date you may lose out on thousands of dollars worth of back pay. Also, considering it takes at least 12 to 18 months to receive an initial decision, missing an appeal could mean several more years of waiting.
  4. Talk to other Veterans. Many individuals who serve in the military develop great bonds with others who serve. This bond often ends after service though. Too often Veterans find themselves isolated when they return from serving, especially when they’ve served in combat. Reconnecting with others who serve can be beneficial. Finding others with shared experiences can help you feel less alone. With social media, it’s easier than ever to reconnect with other Veterans. However, you can still connect with other Veterans in traditional ways too. One of the most common ways to connect is to try a local Veterans organization. Many are social clubs which require membership to attend. However, they often host events which can be a lot of fun.
  5. Consider hiring an attorney. VA Disability claims can be tough. Many claims take several years and it’s almost as if the VA is working against you. Not only are the claims time consuming, but they are also frustrating. Sometimes Veterans are hesitant to hire an attorney because they’ve sometimes never hired one before. A VA Attorney doesn’t charge an upfront fee. This is how our firm handles fees. Our fees are based on a contingency. In other words, we only receive an attorney fee if you get service connected. The fee is 20% of whatever backpay you receive. Attorneys help in many ways. We submit paperwork, file appeals, help with evidence, we can help get second opinions, and much more. We’ve helped thousands of Veterans and we have the knowledge and the compassion you need.

We hope you have a great year, and we hope you get the VA Disability Benefits you deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our number is 1-877-526-3457. Or you can fill out this form so we can call you later.

Important Questions for Every Veteran Considering VA Disability Benefits

By Jan Dils · October 3, 2018
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Each year, more and more Veterans apply for VA Disability. However, there are even more Veterans left wondering if they can apply. The process is so daunting that many Veterans avoid it out of fear that they won’t qualify for benefits.

Our firm has been pursuing VA Disability benefits for more than a decade. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about the process. More often than not, a Veteran who thought he or she couldn’t apply for benefits was qualified. So, how do you know if you should apply for VA Disability? Granted, anyone can apply for benefits, but most Vets want to know more about what the VA is looking for in a successful claim. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering pursuing VA Disability.

  1. Are you a Veteran? This question may seem silly, but many people who haven’t served ask us if they can file for Veterans Disability. Keep in mind that we aren’t talking about Survivors Benefits in this blog, just service-connected disability. A service-connected disability is an injury or trauma incurred or aggravated by the Veteran’s time in service. Only Veterans are allowed to pursue service-connected disability benefits. For instance, once an individual called our firm asking if he could apply for VA Disability. He didn’t serve, his family didn’t serve, and his only connection to the military was his work as a custodian at the local VA hospital. He was injured on the job and thought he may be entitled to VA Disability benefits because he worked for the VA. He was not a Veteran, so he did not qualify for VA Disability. He instead needed to file a worker’s compensation claim or Social Security Disability.
  2. Did my injury occur in service, or was it made worse by my time in service? When Veterans are seeking our help with their VA Disability claims, we ask them when and where their injuries occurred. For instance, if you came to us seeking service-connection for a shoulder injury, we would want to know when, where, and how it occurred. If your shoulder injury was caused by a car wreck that happened 20 years after service, you’re not likely to get that injury service-connected. However, if your shoulder was injured because you fell off a truck while in service, you may be able to get that injury service-connected. It’s important to note that this is just one example. There are many different scenarios for VA Disability claims. For instance, mental health claims don’t have to be diagnosed in service. Their symptoms often manifest years after a Veteran has been discharged.
  3. Does my injury still impact my life? If you injured your shoulder in service, and it still causes you issues today, that’s something to consider pursuing. However, if you injured your shoulder, fully recovered, and have no lingering problems, you probably won’t receive service-connection. Many Veterans have physical injuries that become more painful over time.
  4. Am I seeking medical treatment? Treatment is paramount for any VA Disability claim. Why is treatment so important? Medical tests and treatment are the evidence that helps prove your disability. A gap in treatment will not bode well for your, For instance, if you had a knee injury in service and didn’t see a doctor about the condition for 15 years, you’re going to have a difficult time getting service-connected. There are some exceptions, of course. We mentioned mental health earlier. Also, Veterans who were parachutist in service may have physical injuries creep up later in life. They may still get service-connected for their conditions even if they weren’t diagnosed or treated in service.

These examples are just some of the ways in which a VA case can become confusing. There are rarely any black or white situations when it pertains to VA Disability. This is why we say every case is unique. Please use these questions as a guide when asking yourself on whether or not you should apply for VA Disability benefits.   If you’d like to make the process even simpler, you are more than welcome to call us for a free evaluation. Our number is 1-877-526-3457. Or, fill out this form. Our intake process is very thorough, and we ask detailed questions to help ensure we’re getting you all the benefits you deserve.

The 6 Biggest Mistakes Veterans Make at C&P Exams

By Jan Dils · July 30, 2018
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Most Veterans pursuing a VA Disability claim are subject to a Compensation and Pension Exam (C&P Exam). For those who have not filed a claim before, a C&P Exam is a medical exam performed by a medical provider at the VA. These exams are directly related to the claims Veterans file when they apply for VA Disability Compensation. It’s not like seeing your regular doctor. The C&P examiner will not prescribe you medicine or send you to a specialist. They are only going to evaluate the medical conditions for which you’re seeking service connection. C&P exams can be frustrating, and many Vets make the following mistakes when they go to their exams:

  1. Playing tough. Most people who served in the military are trained to downplay injuries, and they don’t want to admit when they’re in the pain. We understand why Veterans downplay their pain and the severity of their conditions. However, doing that in a C&P exam isn’t going to help your case. When Veterans ask us what they should or should not do during the exam, our answer is always the same: be honest. If you’re having a rough day, tell the doctor. If you’re back pain makes you want to scream, don’t be afraid to admit just how much it impacts your daily life. If you’re finding it hard to perform your job because of your depression, the doctor needs to know that. Also, we encourage Veterans to refrain from exaggerating about their conditions. This can negatively impact your claim.
  2. Expecting a familiar face. Many Veterans treat at the VA on a regular basis. Even if you visit the VA on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you’ll be evaluated by a doctor you’ve never met before. Don’t let an unfamiliar face throw you off. It’s important to discuss your symptoms with the C&P examiner as if he or she was your regular doctor. This is not the time to be shy. While it can be intimidating, especially when it comes to mental health claims, it’s important to present your symptoms in an honest manner.
  3. Waiting for Dr. Super Nice. We’ve been representing Veterans since 2008. We’ve reviewed thousands of C&P Exams, and we’ve talked to a lot of Veterans after their evaluations. Often, the C&P exams don’t go as well as they had expected. We’ve heard countless stories about rude doctors and long waits, combined with disappointing evaluations. We’ve seen our fair share of poor evaluations. But that’s ok. We know how to handle these types of evaluations, and have assisted many Veterans with getting second opinions from independent medical consultants.
  4. Expecting Answers. Many Veterans assume the C&P Exam takes place near the end of the decision process. With that in mind, we understand a Veteran may be tempted to ask the doctor for a status update about their claim. The C&P examiner does not know how your case is going to be decided. The medical provider performing the exam is not the one making the decision. The examiner will present his or her findings to the VA Regional Office. The Regional Office will then make their decision.
  5. One trip and done. In a perfect world, you could go to the VA one day, and all your evaluations would be completed within a few hours. The reality, however, is much different. If you file multiple claims, you may have to go to the VA on multiple days and times for different exams. It’s frustrating, and it occurs more often than you realize. However, you may also have to go for multiple exams for the same condition if you’re denied.
  6. Getting upset over a chart review. At times, it can seem there is no rhyme or reason to how the VA schedules exams. Sometimes the VA won’t bring you in for an exam, but have the C&P examiner do a chart review of your exam, instead. It can seem like the VA is passing over your claim, but sometimes a chart review is sufficient for specific types of claims and their severity. We often receive calls from clients who are upset after a chart review. If a chart review would prove to be insufficient, there have been instances when we have assisted Veterans in getting second opinions through independent medical consultants.

The C&P exam process can be frustrating, but when you hire a firm like Jan Dills, Attorneys at Law, the process can become a little easier. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you with your claim, call us today for a free consultation. Our number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk right now, fill out this form so we can contact you later.

Why Hire An Attorney For Your VA Disability Claim

By Jan Dils · May 8, 2018
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Did you know Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law has over 50 team members dedicated to helping Veterans obtain their disability benefits?

Have you ventured to the market recently and been overwhelmed by the number of choices there are for each product? Ice cream is a good example. Most grocers have an aisle dedicated to ice cream. If you don’t have a specific flavor and brand in mind, you could be overcome with anxiety due to the large variety. How do you know which one to choose? Do you buy the high-end brand with the TV show host on the carton, or do you go with the less expensive, simply flavored bulk ice cream? Do you buy the branded flavor or the classic? The choices are seemingly endless. So why choose the expensive brand over the value brand? At the end of the day, aren’t they both ice cream?

And what does ice cream have to do with a VA Disability Attorney? Like ice cream, when you select a representative, your choices may seem endless, and it can seem overwhelming. Many Veterans want to know why they should consider choosing an attorney over a person or organization that doesn’t charge for their services.

There are various individuals, often referred to as Veteran Service Officers, and organizations, referred to as Veteran Service Organizations, that represent Veterans for free. Most are non-profits, and they do a lot of good work to help Veterans in a variety of situations, assisting Veterans with their GI Bill, VA home loans, burial arrangements, issues at VA Medical Centers and more. And they often don’t charge for their services. So, why would you hire an attorney when you can get free representation from a VSO? We can’t speak for all law firms, but we can tell you about the benefits of hiring Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law.

It takes a team

In our firm, no one person works on your case alone. We believe in hiring individuals to specialize in specific areas of your case. For instance, we have a team that focuses on leads, another that focuses on appeals, some that focus on medical reviews and, of course, we have our attorneys. Some may see this depth and worry about not making a personal connection with us, but that’s not the case. Every Veteran is assigned two case managers, and these individuals get to know each client quite well. The VA process is quite lengthy and, as a result, the case managers will be in contact with you frequently over the course of your case. Our case managers often get to know our clients on a personal level, keeping in touch even after their cases is complete.

Legal Backgrounds

Our attorneys and staff have dedicated large portions of their lives to studying law and learning the discipline. For someone to become an attorney, in most cases, they have to complete at least four years of college, and then attend law school.

C-Files: the truth is in there

A C-file is one of the most important aspects of your case. These files are often huge, and they can take a long time to review. C-files contain medical records from your time in service, your administration records, all of your VA medical records, and more. We don’t have an individual review these records, we have a team. This team is specially trained to review these records and find evidence to support your claim. They also look at past decisions rendered by the VA. They look for mistakes made in past decisions. At times, we’ve even been able to get Veterans service connected at a higher rating.

Vested Interest

Our firm does not charge anything upfront for our services. We only receive attorney fees if you’re approved for benefits. So, if your claims aren’t approved, we don’t receive attorney fees. We are only successful when we make sure your claim is successful.

Resources

Our firm has a network of doctors established to help get Veterans additional medical opinions. Those opinions can help Veterans get the disability benefits they deserve. Since our firm has been established for so many years, we have built great relationships with these doctors.

Since 2008, our firm has helped thousands of Veterans get the disability benefits they deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, call us today for a free consultation at 1-877-526-3457, or fill out this form so we can call you at a better time.

You may be entitled to thousands of dollars in back pay

By Jan Dils · April 20, 2018
CATEGORIES: ,

You served your country, now honor is due.

It’s no secret that the VA Disability process is confusing. There isn’t a lot of information available, and much of the information that is available is outdated or incorrect. This becomes even more evident when our attorneys and staff discuss back pay with Veterans.

Many Veterans aren’t aware they can receive back pay for their claims. In most cases, a Veteran will receive back pay from the date their claim was originally filed. So, if you filed your claim in December of 2016, and you get approved in May 2018, you should receive back pay for those 17 months. If you filed as a single Veteran with no dependents, and you are approved in 2018, you should receive $1,365.48 per month for your disabilities. The VA pays you back pay because they should have been paying you that amount every month since you filed. In this case, they will compensate you for the 17 months you should have been paid at 70%. In this example, that equals $23,213.16. (The amount may vary based on cost of living adjustments and a few other adjustments, but this  amount is an accurate estimate.)

A situation involving one of our clients is a good example. This Veteran was attempting to pursue his benefits claim on his own. He filed early in 2011, then was denied later in the year. He filed an appeal through the mail and thought the VA had received it, but they hadn’t. A year passed after he received his initial decision. The VA didn’t receive an appeal, so they closed his case. This caused the Veteran to lose his original back pay date.

This is one of the many reasons we are adamant about Veterans filing appeals before they expire. This Veteran was service connected at 100%, and his back pay date reset to when we reopened his case. Because the VA did not receive his appeal, he possibly lost out on thousands of dollars in back pay. When our firm represents a Veteran, we obtain confirmation notices from the VA. These notices let us know that the VA received the appeal. If necessary, we can use a confirmation notice to argue and prove an effective date.

What happens with back pay when you’ve been granted a specific percentage for a claim, but want to appeal the decision to receive a higher rating? Many Veterans believe that they won’t get the back pay if they appeal, or that they will stop receiving their monthly benefit. That’s not true. For instance; if you filed a claim for PTSD and the VA rated you at 30%, but you think you should be rated at 70%, you can file an appeal and not lose your back pay or your monthly compensation. If the VA then finds that you should have been rated at 70% the whole time, they will pay you additional back pay and adjust your monthly compensation going forward. You won’t lose what the VA has already paid, and you will still receive your monthly compensation while they are processing your appeal.

VA Disability is confusing. It takes years to master, and it’s difficult to pursue alone. You have several options when it comes to VA Disability representation. However, thousands of Veterans have selected Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law to help them get the benefits they deserve. We’re not volunteers. We have a vested interested in your case. We’re passionate about helping Veterans, and we’d love the opportunity to discuss your case in detail. Call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather talk at a later time, fill out this form so we can call you at a better time.

4 Mistakes Veterans Make When They’re Approved

By Jan Dils · April 6, 2018
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For most Veterans, the disability process is long and frustrating. When a Veteran gets approved, they are usually relieved that the journey is over. However, the journey isn’t necessarily over when you are approved. There are still several things a Veteran may need to do once their claim is approved. Here are the 4 most common mistakes Veterans make after their VA Disability claim is approved.

  1. They stop getting treatment. Treatment is one of the most important parts of any VA Disability claim. If your claim is approved, there is a good chance you had a lot of medical treatment to support your claim(s). However, once they’re approved, many Veterans stop getting treatment.  This can be bad for two reasons. For one, an approval does not mean that your condition goes away. Regardless of whether you have a physical disability or a mental disability, you should continue treating because your condition could worsen without treatment. The other issue with stopping treatment arises if the VA proposes a decrease in your benefits. It’s easier to argue against a decrease if you have medical evidence to support your claim. Medical evidence post-approval will help even more.
  2. They let other claims slip. Most Veterans file for multiple disabilities, and it’s rare for those claims to get approved at the same time. So, if you’re approved for a claim for your back condition, don’t let your PTSD claim slip. It’s important to continue your other claims because, if they are approved, they can help your overall combined rating.
  3. They settle for less than they deserve. It’s difficult to get a claim approved, but often when the VA approves a claim, they approve it for a lower percentage. For instance, you filed for PTSD and the VA rates you at 30%, but, you have evidence that supports a 70% rating. Many Veterans worry they’ll lose the initial rating once they file an appeal. However, that’s not necessarily true. You will continue to receive your monthly payment that you were approved for, in addition to any back pay that you were eligible for. If you wonder how you’ll know if you deserve a higher rating, you may want to consider getting help from an accredited VA Disability attorney.
  4. They fail to add or update dependent information. Once a Veteran reaches 30% service connection, he or she can claim dependents and the VA will add to their compensation. You can get additional compensation for each dependent. So, if you have multiple children, a spouse, or a dependent parent, you can receive compensation for each individual. You may also claim your children as dependents up until the age of 23 if they are in school full time. However, once your children reach the age of 18, you must show proof to the VA that they are still in school. Also, if you are no longer married and your current spouse is on your dependents claim, it is very important that you let the VA know to avoid any type of overpayment.

If you worry about mistakes you may make once you’re approved, you might benefit from having an attorney help you get approved. Thousands of Veterans have turned to the VA Disability attorneys at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. Call us today to see what we can do for you. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can call you at a better time.

The Best Kept Secret at the VA: The Debt Management Center

By Jan Dils · January 24, 2018
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An overpayment may be a concern, but Veterans have options.

If you are a Veteran who has applied for VA disability compensation, you already know that few aspects of the process are pleasant. This is especially true if you’ve ever been involved in a situation that led to calling the VA’s 1-800 number. Some Veterans have shared stories in which they’ve been placed on hold for hours, or even been given false information. To say the least, most Veterans don’t enjoy calling the VA for help. But in some situations, calling is necessary—but it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as you might think.

There are some cases in which a Veteran may receive an overpayment. One of the most common situations results when a Veteran receives severance pay from the military, and then later receives VA disability compensation. In some instances, the Veteran may have to pay back their severance pay in order to receive their monthly compensation. Another instance that is common involves dependents. For instance, if you were married when you were granted benefits, but failed to notify the VA of a divorce, the VA may have overpaid you. This can amount to thousands of dollars’ worth of overpayments. The VA will want that money back. So, what are you to do?

There is a helpline operated by the VA that is very helpful. It’s not a myth. It exists, and it may help you when you are in dire need of help. This helpful center within the VA is the Debt Management Center. It’s located in St. Paul Minnesota, and they have helped many of the Veterans our firm has referred to them.

We’ve dealt with the VA Debt Management Center directly many times since we started representing Veterans a decade ago. Also, several of our clients have had positive interactions with VA Debt Management. We’ve seen instances in which they’ve helped a Veteran in need who could not pay back an overpayment. They actually work with Veterans to help resolve the issue. So, instead of having to pay back a $1,000.00 overpayment with one month’s check, the VA may make arrangements for you to pay a smaller amount over several months.

This probably won’t surprise any Veteran, but the VA makes mistakes. Sometimes they will say that you owe them money even though you don’t. In this circumstance, the VA Debt Management Center will do what they can to fix the issue.

One of the best things is that the VA Debt Management Center has a direct line. You may still have to wait when you call them, but it shouldn’t be as long a wait as if you called the main 1-800 number. They even outline on their website the best time to call, and explain that the first Monday of every month is their highest day for call volume. They are even open on Saturdays to take calls. If you need to call them, their number is 1-800-827-0648.

If you do find that you have an overpayment, do not ignore the issue. The Debt Management Center will work with you. There are options. We discussed making payments earlier, but there are some situations in which they will waive an overpayment. This doesn’t always occur, but it is a possibility. In some situations, you may even be able to request a hearing.

Overpayments can be frustrating, but the VA is usually accommodating. If you would like to know more about this subject, or if you would like to know more about the services we offer, call us today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that a member of our team can call you at a later time.

Rural Veterans Face High Suicide Risk

By Jan Dils · January 23, 2018
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Veterans living in rural areas face a higher suicide risk than their urban counterparts.

Most national reports state that, on average, 22 Veterans take their lives every day. Obviously, this is an alarming rate, and that number may actually be on the rise. However, many people don’t realize which Veterans are at risk. Some suggest that Veterans with depression and/or PTSD are more at risk, but simply saying that Veterans with mental health issues are at risk for suicide is too broad. There are a lot of Veterans who suffer from PTSD and depression, and there are varying degrees of severity for both conditions. Many Vets are able to manage the symptoms of their mental health conditions with medication or other alternative treatments. Simply stated, a diagnosis of either condition or both does not mean a Vet is at risk for suicide. Instead, there needs to be more data to show other factors. Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs released data to show geographic factors that can contribute to higher suicide rates among the Veterans community. The news is dire for Veterans who live in rural areas.

Recently the VA released data on suicide rates by state for the first time. The study found the following states are among the highest for Veteran suicides: Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. The four states mentioned averaged 60 per 100,000 individuals or higher, which is far above the national Veteran suicide rate of 38.4. In other words, the rates in those four states are nearly twice that of the rest of the country. The VA found that other states with high suicide rates, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, also have the highest rates of opioid use.

When compared to their civilian counterparts, female Vets are two and a half times more likely to commit suicide, and male Veterans are at an even higher risk. The suicide rate among male Veterans is 19% higher than in civilian males. Age is also a contributing factor for many Veterans, with VA reporting that 65% of Veterans who commit suicide are 65 or older.

Suicide rates for individuals who live in rural areas aren’t just an issue for Veterans. As a whole, people living in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide than those who live in urban areas. One main reason is a lack of access to medical care. Some reports state that there is also more of a stigma attached to mental health conditions in rural areas.

In addition to a lack of medical care and the stigma associated mental health issues in rural areas, there are other reasons that Veterans in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide. One such reason pertains to the isolation Veterans may experience in rural areas. Many Veterans struggle to find other individuals with shared similar experiences, especially for those Vets who served in combat. There are fewer social organizations, like the VFW, for Veterans to find companionship.

While this news is disturbing, the fact that VA is doing research and producing reports means that they are trying to identify problems and create solutions. If you are struggling with PTSD, depression, or a TBI, you may be able to get compensation for your disabilities. Pursuing a claim can be very frustrating. If you’d like to learn what an attorney can do for you, give Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law a call today for a Free consultation. The toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that a representative can contact you at a better time.