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Can I Service Connect for a Back Condition?

By Jan Dils · March 15, 2012

In order to receive service connection for a back condition, you must show that you injured your back while on active duty or had a pre-existing back condition which was aggravated while on active duty.  When evaluating your back condition, the VA uses what is called Range of Motion to measure how disabled your back is.  A Veteran can get rated on a cervical, thoracolumbar spine condition.  The thoracolumbar spine condition may include a sacral condition. 

The lowest rating for a back condition is 0% and the highest is 100%.  The most common rating for a severe back condition we see at the firm is 40%.  In order to receive a higher rating of 50%, the VA examiner must find unfavorable ankylosis of the entire thoracolumbar spine.  For a 100% rating, the VA examiner must find unfavorable ankylosis of the entire spine. 

When a veteran reaches a rating of 40% on a back condition, we tend to leave it alone because the VA examiner could find an improved range of motion and the veteran could get a decrease in his or her service connected compensation.

At Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, our attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping Veterans get the benefits they deserve. Give our office a call today for a free phone consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457or use our online contact form.

What is a DRO Hearing?

By Jan Dils · March 8, 2012

After filing a notice of disagreement you may be asking yourself,  “What about a hearing? “

You may ask for a DRO hearing after filing the notice of disagreement at your local regional office. DRO stands for decision review officer. Often, some regional offices will schedule a DRO video hearing at a VA Medical Center closest to you. This is where the decision review officer will be in the regional office and you and your representative will be at the Medical Center.

 A DRO hearing is a get together with a decision review officer where you can talk about your claim(s) to state your side of the story. A DRO hearing is nothing like you see inthe movies. There is no jury. Normally, it is just you, the DRO, and your representative, if you have one. Along with a representative, you may bring a witness if you wish. Also, this is the time to present any new evidence. Your representative, and possibly the decision review officer, will ask you questions to present recognition and insight to your distinctive situation.  The VA will not reimburse mileage for hearings.

If you need help filing for a DRO hearing or have more questions about requesting a DRO hearing, please contact our office at 1-877-838-3726. Or use our online contact form.

Can I Get VA Benefits if I was in the Coast Guard?

By Jan Dils · February 23, 2012

 I had a client who was in the Coast Guard come into the office the other day. He wanted to know if his Coast Guard service made him eligible for VA disability benefits. I then realized we do not have a lot of Coast Guard Veterans, so others might have the same question. The answer is yes.

 The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces. They are a small military service with approximately 38,000 active duty and 12,000 reserve p

ersonnel. All the qualifications for applying for VA disability are the same as if with any other branch.

For the purposes of determining if a Veteran is eligible for Veterans Disability, a Veteran is defined as “[a] person who served in the active military, naval, or air services, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” 

We understand how confusing this can be for anyone to go through alone. So many Veterans turn to Jan Dils Attorneys at Law because we have the knowledge and the ability to navigate through the VA Disability Claims process. Our friendly staff is always willing to answer questions you may have about eligibility, so feel free to give us a call: 1-877-526-3457. Or Tell us about your case.


How Does the VA Determine a 70% Rating for PTSD?

By Jan Dils · February 14, 2012


Just like physical conditions, the VA evaluates mental conditions and assigns ratings due to their severity. In terms of service-connecting PTSD, a Veteran can receive a rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% and 100%. Let’s discuss the rating of 70% to better understand the ratings.

SteveA Veteran who is rated at 70% suffers from all of the symptoms assigned at 50%, but to a higher degree. Stressful circumstances prove especially difficult for the Veteran and impair areas such as work, school and family. Failure to maintain relationships often manifests in the Veteran’s social life and may be exemplified in marital problems, limited social life and difficulty maintaining employment, among others.

Furthermore, a Veteran at 70% may possess what VA law qualifies as “obsessional rituals” that interfere with daily life, as well as a lack in personal hygiene. The Veteran’s speech commonly becomes illogical, irrelevant or obscure.  The Veteran is prone to irritability, violence, depression, near-continuous panic and thoughts of suicide or depression affecting ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively. The Veteran struggles socially.

If you or someone you know feels like they qualify for VA benefits for PTSD, please feel free to contact our office. Our staff will gladly help you through the claims process and make sure you get the benefits you deserve. Call us toll free at 1-877-526-3457. Or Tell us about your case.

How Does the VA Determine a 30% Rating for PTSD?

By Jan Dils · February 10, 2012

So you have been diagnosed with PTSD and were granted service connection by the VA. Now, you’re probably wondering how the VA decides what rating you should be assigned and if it is accurate. In this blog, I would like to explain to you what is means to be granted at a 30% rating for service connected PTSD. It is important to understand the criteria and to know that you must meet most of the requirements in order for it to be granted.

The most common symptom that the VA looks for when determining a PTSD rating is how the condition has affected your work and personal life. For a 30% grant, you would have to show that your work efficiency has declined and that your personal relationships have decreased.  An example of this could be that you are beginning to occasionally miss work due to lack of motivation. Maybe you’ve also noticed that you are beginning to distance yourself from others, such as your friends and/or significant other. The VA will also look to see how often you feel depressed, have anxiety, or have panic attacks. Are you having panic attacks on a weekly basis, or more often? If so, you could be at a 30% rating for PTSD. You will also find that most of those who are depressed or anxious also suffer from sleep deprivation and mild memory loss. This means you are unable to sleep well at night, possibly due to nightmares, or are forgetting names of people or even recent events.

These are all symptoms of PTSD, and it is important to understand the criteria one must meet in order to be service connected at specific ratings. If you are battling PTSD, please remember to always seek treatment and if you need help with your claim, please contact the Jan Dils Attorneys at Law office at 1-877-526-3457, Or Tell us about your case.

What is PTSD?

By Jan Dils · February 5, 2012

Today we are going to discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. This is a term that most of us are familiar with; however today we will discuss its true definition as well as signs and symptoms of the disorder.

The Department of Veterans Affairs defines PTSD as an anxiety disorder, not a normal response to an event that can occur after you have been through a traumatic event. This anxiety disorder involves specific mental and physical changes.  This traumatic event can be something you see or experience and you may have felt your life was in danger. You may have also felt out of control in these situations. You may continue to feel other symptoms years after these events. Some of these other symptoms may include strong and unwanted memories of the event, nightmares, intense guilt or worry, angry outbursts, feeling “on edge,” and avoiding thoughts and situations that are reminders of the trauma.

When we speak of “trauma”, this can mean different things. Most people traditionally think of “trauma” as war. At one time people who suffered from PTSD were considered “shell-shocked” or thought to have “battle fatigue”. PTSD not only affects combat Veterans, but also people who suffered from flood or fire, assault, abuse, rape, kidnapping, a serious accident, or a natural disaster.

One of the signs and symptoms of PTSD is avoidance which would include feeling emotionally “numb” or not caring about anything that you normally would have cared about prior to the traumatic event. It also includes not being able to remember parts of the traumatic event. It could even include a lack of interest in things you once enjoyed. Some people tend to avoid things, places or people that remind them of the event.

Another sign or symptoms would be arousal issues. This includes difficulty concentrating, being hyperaware of your surroundings, feeling irritable or even having angry outburst. Some people also have issues with sleeping , with trouble falling or staying asleep.

You may also have “survivor’s guilt” about the event. This may cause increased anxiety, stress, and tension.

Some people experience just a few of the signs or symptoms while others experience all of them. In the upcoming blogs we will discuss how the severity of these signs and symptoms relate to a percentage of service connection for Veterans. 


Please remember that this is a condition that is treatable. If you feel you suffer from PTSD, there is help available. If you don’t know where to start or feel you suffer from PTSD due to a military experience, you may want to contact a law firm that is able to help. The attorneys and staff at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law specialize in this area and are able to help. Call toll free at 877-526-3457. Or Tell us about your case now.


PTSD Awareness

By Jan Dils · February 1, 2012

Join us Sunday as we kick off our week long campaign to raise awareness of PTSD. From February 5th through the 10th we will be posting daily blogs about PTSD, how it affects your VA claim, and much more. This awareness campaign will take place on our VA blog, our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Channels, and our website. Check back in often for all of the great information.

What Happened to Records in 1973?

By Jan Dils · January 16, 2012

AlexA lot of Veteran’s have been told their records were destroyed in a fire in St. Louis in 1973, however, they do not know exactly what happened or exactly what was destroyed. The fire in question occurred at The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which housed Official Military Personnel Files.

National Personnel Records Center was built in 1956 at 9700 Page Boulevard St. Louis, Missouri and was the largest in St. Louis being almost two blocks long and a block wide. On July 12, 1973 shortly after midnight a fire was reported. It took firefighters only 4 minutes to arrive after the first alarm sounded and the entire sixth floor was already raging out of control. Although firefighters were able to contain it to just that area, it took 50 hours for the fire to finally put out. There are a few different speculations but the exact cause of the fire has never been determined.

The entire sixth floor was destroyed in the fire along with 16-18 million official Military Personnel Files.  Estimated 80% of Army records of personnel discharged between November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960, and 75% of Air Force records of personnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.) were destroyed.

As part of the reconstruction effort, the NPRC established a “B” registry file (or Burned File) to index the 6.5 million recovered records. Also, the NPRC established a separate temperature controlled “B” file area to protect and safeguard the damaged records. Later, in April 1974, the NPRC established the “R” registry file (or Reconstructed File) to further assist with reconstruction efforts. Since then, staffers have placed all newly reconstructed records into the “R” registry file and stored them in an area separate from the “B,” or burned files.


What is an IME for a VA Disability Claim?

By Jan Dils · January 16, 2012

While pursuing a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, you may hear the term “Independent Medical Examination”, also known as an “IME”.  An IME is a written report completed by an independent physician or psychologist.  If an IME is needed, your disability will determine what type of IME is necessary.  For example: If you have a back related disability, you may have to have an IME by a medical doctor.  If you have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, you may have to have an IME by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

An IME is usually needed in cases where the Veteran is required to provide “New and Material Evidence” to support a claim or to refute an unfavorable report provided to the VA by another physician, psychiatrist or psychologist.  However, if neither of these issues is present with your case, an IME may not be necessary.  If Jan Dils’ Office is representing the Veteran, an attorney will determine if an IME is needed based on the specific issues and evidence contained in their file.

If an IME is warranted, there is a cost to the Veteran for this material.  The cost of an IME can vary from a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars.  The common charge our office has seen is between $200.00 and $500.00.  If you are represented by Jan Dils’ Office, the firm will pay the physician or psychologist directly, then require the client to reimburse the firm once the claim is settled.           


What are the Outcomes of a BVA Hearing?

By Jan Dils · December 6, 2011

A lot of Veterans call us after their BVA hearing wanting to know what the Board will decide. First of all, I always like to let them know that it will be a while before the VA gets back to us on a decision. It can be up to one year after a hearing that a decision is made. Once you get a decision, there are three outcomes from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals: a grant, a remand, or a denial.

It is pretty cut and dry; you are either granted or denied based on the evidence. The Board Member may also remand it back to the Regional Office. When a Board Member issues a remand it is to obtain more information that the regional office failed to acquire or to fix an error made at the lower level. Once further action has been taken or evidence has been obtained, then a DRO will make a decision.  Please note that a full grant, as opposed to a remand, is very seldom received.

After a denial you have three options: file a reconsideration with the BVA, go back to regional office and re-open your VA Disability Claim, or file an appeal with the CAVC, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. If you decide to re-open with new and material evidence the claim(s) effective date will be the date of the re-open and you will lose the original date that you filed along with your back pay.

If you need help with claims at the BVA level, please call our office today. 1-877-838-3726. Or you can find out more about the VA Legal Process by clicking here.