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The Jan Dils team is proud to announce that Lindsey Bailey is our newest VA Disability Attorney. Well, new isn’t really the proper word to describe Lindsey. She is quick to point out that this is not her first rodeo. Lindsey has been employed with our firm for several years. She represented a lot of social security clients prior to transferring over to the VA. She also informed me that she simply didn’t just start doing VA cases one day. She actually studied for a long time with lead VA attorney Heather Vanhoose. Heather and Lindsey worked well together and Lindsey really developed a passion for working with Veterans. Lindsey is a graduate of the WVU School of Law. Her father and brother are both social security attorneys as well. Recently I sat down with Lindsey to find out why she transitioned to the VA side of the firm. She had some prior knowledge of the VA disability process, but seeing things from our side really opened her eyes. She became fascinated with the law and knew she wanted to get involved.
Selecting Lindsey as the next attorney to represent Veterans at our firm did not occur by picking a name out of a hat. It happened by design. Lead VA Attorney Heather Vanhoose spoke about Lindsey’s passion and her compassion for Veterans. She said the fact that she possesses both of these skills makes her the ideal candidate to represent Veterans. Firm Owner Jan Dils also spoke of Lindsey’s passion for helping Veterans. She went on to say that Lindsey really picked up on the law quickly and that she was happy to have her helping our Veterans.
On a personal note, I have known Lindsey for a couple of years. In the past year I have been able to spend some time with her and other members of the staff outside of the office. The first thing I noticed about her was her distinct voice. It resonates with joy and a unique tone most can’t duplicate. If I had to think of one word to describe her it would simply be genuine. She has a great heart and is extremely intelligent. Our Veterans are fortunate to have Lindsey join the VA legal team along with Heather Vanhoose and Angie Lowe.
If you would like to know more about VA Disability, or the services we provide, be sure to give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a later time.
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 we’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 they 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.
Most of the blogs I write are light hearted and informative. However, there is something that has been on my mind a lot lately that I want to discuss. It’s no secret that Military Sexual Trauma affects many individuals who serve in the military. While I have blogged about this subject in the past, I did not have a one on one experience with many Veterans who were sexually assaulted in service. However, nearly a year ago my position in the firm changed. In my new position I do what we refer to as Intake Appointments. In an Intake I ask detailed questions about what a Veteran wants service connected for, their treatment history, and their experience in the service. For a lot of the Vets I talk to, this is their first time talking with someone about their experience outside of medical professionals. We don’t take these conversations lightly, especially when it comes to MST. We know how difficult it can be for anyone to share an experience about sexual assault, especially someone who served in the military.
Normally in a given month I may speak to one or two Veterans with MST claims. In a good month, I will talk with about 100 Vets regarding VA disability claims, so one or two MST cases only account for a very small percentage of my overall case load. March was different. Specifically the last two weeks of March were really surprising. Over a two week period of time I talked to ten Veterans who experienced sexual assault, and thus were filing military sexual trauma claims. In other words, 10% of my clients in March were affected by MST.
I take what I do very seriously. I have fun, but I state that there is no greater feeling in the world than meeting and interacting with Veterans. I honestly enjoy speaking with Vets about every aspect of service. I mostly enjoy hearing about the comradery and brotherhood most people who serve in the military develop with their fellow Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen and so on. I think this is why I am so stunned when I talk to any Veteran who is a victim of sexual assault, rape, or any other form of unwanted sexual attention.
So, why am I writing about my experience with these Vets? The answer is simple. I noticed something…no two stories were the same. I know MST is a big problem facing our military and many more vets are affected by MST who aren’t ready to come forward. So, my plan is to show how MST affects many different types of Veterans.
(I want to preface the rest of this blog by stating that I am not sharing any names, locations, or personal information about any of the Veterans I talked with over the past few weeks.)
There is still a stigma about MST even in 2015. One misconception is that only women get sexually assaulted or raped in service. That is simply not true. The 10 Veterans I talked to were all men. Now, some will state that the reason for this is that there are a lot more men in the military then women, and that skews that statistics, but I’m not here to discuss stats. The bottom line is that men and women are both assaulted far too often.
There is no specific type of Veteran that is affected by MST. I have talked to Veterans who served during peacetime who were assaulted as well as individuals who were deployed when it occurred. Some of the Veterans who file for MST are younger, others are older. Regardless, MST has been an issue for the military for a while. In my time with the firm I’ve talked to men who were assaulted in every era dating back to World War II.
Some may wonder why I am only discussing the men I deal with who are affected by MST. Simply, I do not often talk to women who were sexually assaulted in service. As a courtesy for our clients, I will talk to males who have MST cases, and my fellow Intake Specialist Shawna will speak with any woman filing for MST.
Another misconception about MST is that it has to be reported in order for you to get service connected. That is not true. While reporting the assault will increase your chances of getting service connected for MST, it is not definitive. There are other elements we can search for if we are representing you for your claim. This includes behavior changes, loss of rank, buddy statements, and even statements from your family or friends. Like everything else with VA disability treatment is essential. We strongly encourage you seek at treatment at the VA or civilian doctors for cases involving MST.
Personally I could never imagine what it must be like to be assaulted by another individually. However, I understand that it is difficult to speak with others about this subject. I decided to ask one of the individuals I spoke with over the last few weeks what worked for him. He stated that the two things that helped him the most were group therapy with other male Vets who were sexually assaulted in service, and speaking with his wife about it. This will not work for everyone, but it works for him. I’m no psychologist, but I tend to pick up on a few things. I know that more often than not finding others with shared experiences can be helpful.
I want to end this on a positive note. I’ve been doing social media with the firm for over four years now. In 2015 we have more national media attention on MST, and the military is making big strides to reduce the number of sexual assaults. Last month I saw video produced by the Army National Guard and the USMC regarding this subject and how to report it if it does occur.
If you would like to learn more about service connecting for MST, or if you’d like to set up a free consultation, give me a call today. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you are not available now but still want to talk with someone about your case, fill out this form, and we will give you a call back at a more desired time.
I really like cars. Because of that I also happen to really enjoy car racing. As a child of the 80’s one of my first experiences with auto racing involved a little film called “Days of Thunder.” Released in 1990, this film centered on the increasingly popular sport of NASCAR. The stars were a young Tom Cruise and his eventual wife, then ex-wife, Nicole Kidman. The film also featured a ton of product placement. Unfortunately I don’t have time to go into the details about how this is the real reason I liked the film. Instead, I want to focus on how the character of Cole Trickle had two different approaches to racing, and how this is much like how many individuals representing attorneys approach VA Disability claims. I know it’s a long way to go just for an example, but this blog is popular for a reason.
In the beginning of the film Cole approaches racing flat out. He throws caution to the wind and does not care about the consequences. This results in a lot of crashes and conflict along the way. He fails to win a race with this approach. Many representatives approach VA Disability claims the same way. Veterans Disability is very complicated. Not everyone who can represent a Veteran for a claim understands how the process is so nuanced. This results in a lot of awful claims being filed that have little to no chance of getting service connected. For instance; I have seen some individuals who served for two years during a non-combat period with more than 30 claims. Is this possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? That answer is no. Unless you had some horrible accident in which you were severely injured, or spent every day of those two years in the sick bay, most of those claims aren’t valid.
An area in which we see a lot of invalid claims involves PTSD. In the past week I had two separate individuals who served in peace time claim PTSD. If you have read my previous blog entries then you know that it is possible to file a claim for PTSD for Veterans who are non-combat, and be successful. However, you have to have a valid stressor. The two PTSD claims that I did not take did not have valid stressors. (They also did not have a diagnosis for PTSD from a doctor.) One of the Veterans claimed that his stressor was home sickness while in the military while the other stated that he was yelled at often in basic training. While I have not served, I have seen films like “Jarhead” and “Full Metal Jacket,” and I realize that if I sign up for the military I will likely experience both of these issues. It may seem like I am making fun of the Veterans who filed these claims, but I’m not. They weren’t well versed in the law and were not aware of the criteria for a PTSD claim. Instead my issue comes from the people who helped them with their claim. One Vet was represented by an attorney, the other by a service officer. At no time did the representatives tell the Veteran that their claims did not fit the criteria for PTSD. Instead they pursued it. These representatives either did not know how a PTSD claim works, or they simply didn’t care. Either of those situations is scary. Sometimes we get paperwork from another firm and I will think: “Who filed this, Dr. Seuss?” I know I am making jokes in this blog as I like to keep things lighthearted, but this can be very serious.
About halfway through Days of Thunder Cole sits down with his crew chief and they work out a plan for Cole to change his approach to racing. Instead of going all out every lap and wrecking more often then not, Harry Hyde tells Cole to try things his way. This approach is more methodical, finessed, and calculated. Harry had years of experience winning and his approach worked. Cole won the next race he competed in. This approach is how the attorneys and staff of Jan Dils Attorneys at Law approach representing Veterans. We won’t pursue every claim under the sun. We will only pursue claims if there is enough evidence to support them properly. We do this through researching every Veteran’s claim file. This is a very labor intensive process and it can take a while, but it works. If we don’t see enough evidence to support a claim we will withdrawal on it after discussing with the Veteran how we came to that conclusion. This thorough review also allows us to find new claims the Veteran may not have been aware that he could file for prior.
Here is an example of this works. In the CFR, every disability is assigned a rating code. For instance, shoulders have one code, back another, and so on. Most mental disabilities are rated under the same rating code. So, PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and a bunch of other claims all get rated via the general rating formula for mental disorders. The point is that it makes no sense to file a claim for each of these individually. This takes longer and it is not necessary. When someone comes to us with PTSD, anxiety, depression, or any combination of these or other mental disabilities, we file it as one big claim. It would read as PTSD to include depression, or panic disorder, or all claims. It just depends.
Why are we so calculated in our approach? It’s simple; we believe our Veterans deserve fair representation. We don’t want to get their hopes up if we know we won’t be successful on a claim. That is not fair to them, and it makes for bad business. Our Veterans deserve an honest representative who will be upfront with them regarding their claims.
We are passionate about helping Veterans. We want our clients to get approved as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you’d like to learn more about our process, or if you’d like to set up a free phone consultation, give me a call today. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. You can also fill out this form if you’d rather talk to us at a later time.
When I started this blog back in 2011 I kicked around the idea of writing about PTSD and guns. It was a subject that I steered away from simply because this subject is so polarizing. I would say to myself that this is not really what this blog is about, or, my readers need to learn about other aspects of the process first. Recently I had a conversation with a Veteran though, and after speaking with him, I decided it was time to put this out there. The Veteran I spoke to recently repeated the words I had heard too many times before. He was a very nice man who served in Desert Storm. As I spoke to him about his case I realized that his claims were strong, but I could tell there was something he wasn’t telling me. Since he served in Desert Storm, and was a Marine, I simply asked him if he had ever considered filing for PTSD. He stated that he believed that he had it, but he didn’t want to pursue it because he was afraid that they would take his guns away. Honestly I hadn’t heard that from a Vet in a while and it took me a little by surprise. I decided to simply tell him the facts as I know it, advised him on how to get evaluated for PTSD, and sent him paperwork to become a client of ours. I decided that I need to explain to my readers what I explained to him. However, before I do that, I want to throw in a small disclaimer. This blog post is not a political discussion. I do not care what your political views are, just like I’m sure you don’t care about mine. My goal is to simply educate Veterans on PTSD, and how it may affect their gun ownership. The reason I am writing this post is due to the fact that there is a ton of misinformation circulating the internet, and I don’t want to see any Veteran suffer because someone told them something based off of opinion rather than fact. Simply put, a diagnosis of PTSD alone will not make you lose your gun rights. No, this is not my opinion, but rather information based off research I acquired from several credible sources, a discussion with our lead VA attorney, Heather Vanhoose, and my personal experience from dealing with thousands of Veterans over the past 4 years. The first thing I am likely to hear after putting this out there is the classic: “My friend knew a guy who had his guns taken away because he had PTSD.” Well, if that is true, your friend’s friend likely had something else going on. He was likely found to be mentally incompetent. This is different than being diagnosed with PTSD.
According to lawdictionary.org, In the United States, competency involves the mental capacity of an individual in order to participate in a legal proceeding or his ability to exercise his liberty and pursue his interest. Competence also pertains to the capability of an individual’s state of mind to make decisions that involve his interests.
PTSD is not mental incompetence. Now, it is important to note that an individual who is rated at 100% on PTSD could be found incompetent. That rating is very severe. I don’t often encounter Veterans who are rated that high. However, when you research what the criteria is for a 100% rating for PTSD, you’d likely agree that individual with that rating probably shouldn’t own guns. Those individuals could have homicidal and suicidal tendencies. They also may suffer from hallucinations and delusions, among other symptoms. This is not the same for all of the other ratings of PTSD. In fact, you can be rated for PTSD at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100%. Most of the Veterans I encounter with PTSD fall anywhere from 30%-70%. These ratings tend to be in the moderate to heavy range. I’ve been doing this for a while. In my time I’ve never had an issue in which I talked to a Veteran about service connecting for PTSD; they were later connected, and then lost their guns. Once again, I don’t often encounter Veterans who need to be rated at the 100% level for PTSD. Those people aren’t likely to call an attorney for help. I want to be clear on another aspect of this topic. It’s important to check with your individual state laws pertaining to gun ownership, concealed carry laws, and how it pertains to mental incompetency. We represent Veterans from all across the United States, and this blog is viewed by people in every state too. As many gun owners will tell you, there is not universal gun law. Certain things vary from state to state. I live in West Virginia; the laws here will likely be different that they are in most states. An example of this is evident when it comes to concealed handgun laws. According to the website of the West Virginia attorney general, permits issued in West Virginia are not universally recognized. West Virginia has full reciprocity in several states. However, since August of 2014, Nevada no longer recognizes our concealed handgun laws. This is just one example of how gun laws differ from state. So, what are you to do in your state? The simplest thing to do is research your local and state laws. I say this with a word of caution though. Be very careful of where you obtain your information. Anyone can make a website. Anyone can post words as fact, and there is a lot of bad information out there that will show up quickly in search results. Pay close attention to who is posting the information. My bio explains who I am, what my education is, how long I have been working in VA Disability, and even a link to my Twitter profile so that you can read my opinion on such pressing matters as Jennifer Lawrence films and how Brad Keselowski is such a nuanced yet necessary part of the current culture of NASCAR. In the end, PTSD is easily one of the biggest issues facing our Veterans. I have Veterans in my own life that suffer from PTSD, and don’t seek treatment. I want every Vet who is having issues with PTSD to get the help they need. I’d hate to think that any Veteran had to suffer because someone misinformed them about their gun ownership. Thanks for taking some time to read my blog. If you have questions about PTSD, service connecting, or VA Disability, call me toll free. Our Number here is 1-877-526-3457. Just ask for Jon. If this isn’t a great time to talk, fill out this form, and I’ll be happy to call you at a later date.
I have a somewhat rational fear of being rejected. Honestly, I avoid a lot of things because I am afraid that someone will say no. It wasn’t until I was talking to someone else who had a similar fear that I realized how silly this fear really is. Plus, when you work for a law firm with a slogan like “we won’t take no for an answer,” you learn to let the fear go by the wayside quickly. A few years back my car was hit from behind by a nice young lady from North Dakota. The car was totaled, and I was afraid of getting a loan for a new vehicle. Eventually someone talked some courage into me and I decided to talk to the bank. I ended up getting the loan, getting a decent car, and have been happy ever since. That fear of rejection almost kept me from getting a decent automobile. I share this story because I know a lot of Veterans I speak to have that same fear when it comes to VA disability. Too often I have talked with Veterans who applied for benefits, got denied, and then let their claim slip away because they were worried about getting denied again. Since I encounter this so often, I decided to put some of my best advice into a convenient list for anyone who has been denied. Here are the top 5 tips to remember when your VA claim is denied.
- Everybody gets denied the first time. I’ll admit that statement is quite hyperbolic, but the vast majority of Veterans do get denied their first time. While different agencies will report a variety of statistics about the denial rate, it seems to hover around 80%. This is a horrible statistic, but it means you aren’t alone. Actually most of our new clients are Veterans who have been denied. More often than not we get those Veterans approved.
- Continue to seek treatment. Long time readers of this blog will note that I mention this in almost every blog list I make. The reason I do this is that it is one of the most important aspects of getting approved. In fact, I would say that next to serving in the military, it’s the most important aspect of a claim.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to appeal. It’s hard for me to preach about this subject because I am great at putting things off. In fact, if there was a book written about procrastinating I would likely wait until it was in the discount bin to purchase it. The VA gives you a year to file an appeal on the first denial. This does not mean you should wait until week 51 to start to take action. Generally, when filing appeals, the sooner you file it, the better.
- Seek help. As I work for a law firm I could easily say that everyone should just come to Jan Dils Attorneys at Law and all of your troubles will go away. However, I didn’t start this blog back in 2011 to make sales pitches. While I do believe that our firm is often the best option for Veterans seeking service connection, I simply want Veterans to get service connected. It’s a tough process that few can do alone successfully. Getting help with your claim from an established law firm, service organization, or other resource can relieve a lot of the stress and uncertainty so many Veterans have.
- Don’t ignore paperwork from the VA. There are multiple reasons why this may be important. If you filed claims at multiple times then the VA is likely going to send you decisions at different times. It could also be a VCAA, or an exam notice that needs to be addressed quickly. Even though the VA will often send you paperwork that simply states they are working on your claim, it’s always smart to review it first. If you have received an exam notice, ignoring it will result in getting denied.
Getting denied can be frustrating. However it doesn’t mean that your claim is over. If you are denied, and you believe that your claim is valid, I suggest filing your appeal. If you don’t feel doing this on your own will result in a favorable decision, then give me a call for a free case consultation. In fact, we charge no upfront fees for our services. You can reach me toll free 1-877-526-3457. If you are reading this late at night because you can’t sleep, fill out this form, and someone from our firm will call you as soon as possible.
I’ve decided that in 2015 one of my goals will be writing more blogs regarding the subject of alternative PTSD treatments. It was something I started writing about late in 2014. I found that it was actually quite intriguing. Something I discovered last year that works well for some Veterans is yoga. However, there are other options. What I want to discuss today is something that is on the opposite end of the spectrum…motorcycle clubs.
Before I get into the bulk of this blog I have to start with a little bit of controversy. I really don’t like motorcycles in any capacity. I don’t like dirt bikes, I don’t like “choppers,” I don’t even like those really fast bikes with the crass nickname. When I saw that Chris Pratt would be riding a variety of motorcycles in the new “Jurassic World” movie, I immediately took to Twitter to express my distain. Words like “cliche” and “basic” were flying left and right. I’m a car guy. I’ll take a Toyota Highlander over a Triumph Speedmaster any day. I really don’t have time to get into all the reasons why I am not a motorcycle fan right now…though I am sure it started when I wrecked one as a kid. Regardless, something made my opinion of motorcycles change recently, and that is what I want to talk about today.
I have a friend who is a Veteran. He is one of the coolest people I know. He’s genuine, really into cars, and has a great personality. He likes me, so obviously he has good taste. When he returned home from serving in our recent conflicts he had issues with PTSD. I won’t get in to the details, but it was severe at times. He happens to be a big motorcycle guy. He has the whole look: leather attire, unique helmets, boots…I’m talking full “Sons of Anarchy” mode. When he was searching for an outlet he found a motorcycle group, and that helped him tremendously with his recovery. When I asked him what the appeal of the motorcycle group was, he said: “I get a sense of freedom while riding especially with my brothers. Being a part of a club has helped me open up since I came back home.” When he elaborated on this my mind was truly open to how much a motorcycle club makes sense for a Veteran.
“I am an Iraq Veteran and I can sit and talk to a Vietnam Veteran with no issues. We may have a lot of years between us and a different war, but we still have a bond. It helps me talk to someone and get things off my chest because I know they have been there and understand where I am coming from. In a club you have a rank structure just as we did in the military. You ride in formation, you must prove yourself, and you also have a brotherhood that is just like the military. It is a great stress release to many Veterans and it is rewarding helping others in need even if it is just a handshake. Wearing my vest covered in all my veteran patches, I get respect and thanked everywhere I go.”
This is why I am so supportive of groups like this. I made the “Sons of Anarchy” reference earlier, and I think that is what so many people have in mind when it comes to any motorcycle club. However, my experience with the Veteran’s Motorcycle groups has been positive. For instance, during our annual Walk4Vets, the West Virginia Patriot Guard Riders are present. They have been at all of our events, and they put on an awesome display. To see a long line of motorcycles complete with American Flags traveling down the road is an emotional experience for me. While this group isn’t a dedicated club for Vets with PTSD, nor is it exclusive to Veterans, it’s a great example of how these groups make a difference in their communities. This particular group is present at funerals of service members killed in action. They do so much more than that though. They welcome everyone and participate in parades, community events, and even charitable endeavors.
Other groups are more exclusive and serve a different purpose. A group exclusive to Veterans with PTSD exists in Illinois. You can read more about this organization in the article I found, but the story is pretty straight forward: finding individuals with shared experiences can be beneficial. This article describes how these Veterans found a sense of camaraderie.
Many of the Veterans I speak with are 30 years of age or younger. When they return home from serving they often get married, have kids, and aren’t around many other Veterans. It can be difficult for them discuss their PTSD symptoms. Finding a group like a motorcycle club can be very therapeutic. It’s not just a group of individuals who have similar experiences; it’s a group of people who share your passion. That is what stands out for me.
For instance, I like some pretty random stuff. This can be isolating at times because I don’t know a lot of people who share my passion. When I find someone who does it’s magical. You start out by discussing your passion, but then your guard comes down and you can share more important aspects of life.
While I may not be a big motorcycle fan, I am a huge fan of these clubs, and an even bigger fan of what they do for Vets with PTSD. Sometimes just proving that you aren’t alone in this world can make the biggest difference in someone’s life.
If you are a Veteran who would like to know more about service connecting fir PTSD, feel free to give me a call for a free consultation: 1-877-526-3457. Or, if you’d rather be called at a more convenient time, you can fill out this form instead.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I often like to get up on my high horse and pretend that I know everything about everything. This may explain why I’m so unpopular. Though I pretend to have all of the knowledge in the world, I often get knocked off that high horse when I am proven wrong. One such instance occurred recently when I was talking to a Veteran about his PTSD symptoms. The end result was a valuable lesson about how PTSD is different for everyone.
It’s no secret that I love working with Veterans. I really enjoy getting to know individuals who served for many reasons. However, I will confess that it’s not always easy discussing PTSD with a Vet. When we take a new client on who happens to have a claim for PTSD, I have to discuss how it occurred in service. This is necessary because we have to get a good baseline of information about each individual case. It’s just like if you are claiming a shoulder injury. I have to how your shoulder was injured in service. One can’t simply respond by saying that they were injured in service. I have to know what led up to the shoulder injury. Did you fall? Was it a combat injury? Did it occur because of wear and tear? When it comes to PTSD, things are a little different. You can’t just say “I have PTSD because I was in combat,” and expect to get it service connected right away.
Some might say “Combat Vets don’t need prove their stressors when it comes to PTSD.” Well, yes, that is true. We can argue that combat action is your stressor. However, this goes well beyond proving why you have may or may not have PTSD, we have to look at the severity of PTSD too. This is why we ask individuals to describe what caused their PTSD. We also have to look at non-combat Veterans too. They have to prove their stressors, so we need to know what caused their PTSD.
You might still be asking why this is important. Well, it’s simple. We thoroughly review Claim Files so that we can better represent our clients. Knowing ahead of time what to look for will make our review more efficient, and quicker.
So, the Veteran who reiterated an important lesson to me about individuals with PTSD was a combat Veteran. He explained to me what events led up to his traumatic experiences, and made copious notes. I then had to ask how PTSD affects him now. This will determine severity. Once again, not all combat Veterans have PTSD, and it does affect everyone differently. Two people could have had the same experience in a war zone and one could be mildly affected while the other was severely affected. That is why we ask how it is affecting Veterans now. He mentioned that he was having issues sleeping, issues with his wife, and he couldn’t keep friends, and even struggled at work. This is all pretty common for an individual struggling with PTSD. However, it wasn’t until I asked the following question that I was surprised. “What about large crowds, or public places, do you have issues there?” Keep in mind that almost every Veteran I have asked that question to previously replied by saying yes. They usually tell me that they avoid public places because of their PTSD. Well, this Veteran told me that it was not an issue for him. I was so surprised by this that I asked him again just to make sure. He assured me that it was no problem to go out in public or be in large crowds. While he did have several other symptoms of PTSD, this very common one was not an issue for him. I was surprised.
Too often we want to throw a blanket over everyone who has a condition. Regardless if it’s something like PTSD, or even something physical like a knee injury, we think it affects all individuals the same way. It’s easy to group everyone who has PTSD together. It really does affect everyone differently. While I am aware of that, it’s easy to forget when you see so much of it every day. There are different degrees of PTSD, and that is why the VA has a rating scale. It’s also why they make use of things like the GAF score.
Overall the experience I had with this Veteran was a great reminder that everyone is different. Further, since PTSD affects everyone differently, we can’t assume that one form of treatment will be effective for every Veteran. Because of this, I encourage all Veterans with PTSD to find the type of treatment that works best for them.
If you would like to know more about this topic, or if you’d like a free consultation for your VA Disability Claim, give me a call. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather we call you at another time, feel free to fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later date.