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8 Steps to Speed Up Your VA Disability Claim

By Jon Corra · June 25, 2013
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We are often asked by Veterans ways in which we can help them speed up their cases. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of options. However, we do have some helpful tips forpreventing your case from slowing down.

1. Submit all paperwork on time to the VA. It may seem like common sense, but a lot of people miss deadlines and fail to submit evidence in a timely manner. Of course, the sooner appeals and paperwork are submitted for your claim, the quicker the VA can do their job.

2. Seek treatment for your disabilities. Regardless of when you served and what type of claims you have applied for, medical evidence will help you get service connected. Often times a diagnosis is required for service connection.

3. Attend all of your required exams. Throughout the process the VA will schedule you for compensation and pension exams. These are required exams. Failure to report for one of these exams may result in an automatic denial.

4. Attend hearings when they are scheduled. We realize everyone has unexpected issues, but if you can make it to a scheduled hearing, do so. If you can’t attend, make arrangements to have your hearing rescheduled as soon as possible. Like with anything in the VA there is a long wait for hearings, so if you can’t make it to your hearing, it may be a long time before another one is scheduled.

5. Be aware of what happens when you move. Regardless if you are moving across town or across country the VA needs to know when you move. If you stay within your state, or within the area of your Regional Office, the VA needs to know your new address. We’ve had countless Veterans tell us that they didn’t receive any correspondence from the VA for years. It turns out they never told the VA about moving, and the Veteran failed to receive notices about claims. If you change regional offices, there is the possibility of a delay when your file is transferred.

6. File claims at the same time. It is recommended by our attorneys that Veterans apply for all benefits in which they wish to pursue at the same time. While you can apply for separate claims throughout the process, it is quicker to apply for them all in one fell swoop. Some of our clients say I want to get condition X taken care of before condition Y. This is not necessary.

7. Don’t let claims close. This is similar to step one, except the consequence is much greater. Letting a claim close will not only slow down your claim, it will also cause you to lose any back pay you were entitled to. When a claim is reopened it is essentially like starting all over again. Plus you have to provide to new and material evidence. Don’t let years of hard work go down the drain because of a deadline. The VA Clearly lists all deadlines for appeals on the paperwork they send you. Or, if you have the help of an attorney, they can submit appeals in a timely manner.

8. Apply for benefits. Perhaps the number one thing that can speed up your case…applying in the first place. It's hard to recall how many Veterans told me they hesitated to apply because they didn’t want to seem weak and they didn’t feel as if they deserved benefits. First of all, there are over 900,000 claims pending in the US right now, so you are not alone. Second, if you served your country, received a discharge other than dishonorable, and are disabled-even slightly-as a result of your time in service, then you are entitled to benefits. That is not just how I feel; it’s the basic requirements as set forth by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

These are just a few quick tips to help you with your claim. However, one of the best things you can do is hire Jan Dils Attorneys at Law to assist with your claim. We can take care of the paperwork for you, submit appeals on your behalf, and attend hearings. For more information on the services we provide, call us today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457

 

Who knows more (About VA Claims.): Doctors or Attorneys?

By Jon Corra · February 27, 2013
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Do doctors really know it all? I’d like to think that when it comes to practicing medicine they do. However, I was a little put off last time I saw my physician. When asking him about changing my medication, he pulled out an iPhone and started doing research. Whatever he Googled seemed to work though so I can’t be too upset. One area that most doctors aren’t familiar with is the VA Disability Process.

More often than not we have clients say something like “I just got back from the VA and my doctor said that not only am I 100%, I should also hear something back next month!”  That doctor must have magic powers or the ability to see into the future, because the people who make those decisions are called Decision Review Officers. We understand that a lot of our clients believe this because they trust their doctors. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the Medical side of the VA and the Administrative side are two separate entities. Doctors, and those who work for the hospitals, are medical professionals, and they don’t really have any interaction with your disability claim. On the other side, the administrative side, you have Decision Review Officers, and other people who will review your file and possibly see you during a hearing.  These people would never give you medical advice.

The Doctors often mean well when they give you advice for your claim, or say that you are likely going to get a decision back soon. However, they are not as familiar with the Disability Process as those who work for the administrative side of the VA. Think of it like this: I am a blog writer. If you want advice on how to optimize your online search results, I am your guy. However, just because I work for a law firm, doesn’t mean I should represent you in a class action lawsuit.

So, what if you go to the VA for an appointment and your medical professional tells you to be expecting a decision soon? The easiest thing to do is ask the professional how they came to that decision. If there answer just seems like a general response, it would be best to contact the VA and ask about your case. However, the best thing to do is hire legal representation who can keep you up to date with your claim. To learn more about the services we offer, or to get a free consultation, give our office a call today. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457, or you can request a call by filling out our online form here.

 

Important information for any soldier approaching discharge.

By Jon Corra · December 19, 2012
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It’s interesting how we get new VA clients in waves at the law firm. One week, all of the Veterans we talk to seem to be from the Vietnam era, the next, it will be individuals interested in learning about DIC. However, lately, it seems we are speaking to recently discharged Veterans on a regular basis. When talking to one of these young Veterans, I tend to notice a few things. For one, they always call me sir, two, they often still use military time, and three, they are likely already receiving some type of VA disability benefits.

Veterans who have been out of the service for a while may wonder how this is possible. It’s actually quite simple, and it’s something all Military Personnel approaching discharge should know about.

There is a program in place for Veterans nearing discharge called Benefits Delivery at Discharge or BDD. According to the VA website, BDD allows a Service member to submit a claim for disability compensation 60 to 180 days prior to separation, retirement, or release from active duty or demobilization. BDD can help you receive VA disability benefits sooner, with a goal of within 60 days after release or discharge.

The one thing I want to point out in the previous paragraph is the timeline; receiving a decision back that quickly is amazing. Most of the Veterans I spoke to who have applied through BDD often receive an answer back in that timeline. If you were to file after discharge, it can take anywhere from 8-12 months to receive a decision back from the VA. The lesson learned here is, do not procrastinate. If you have the opportunity to apply for BDD, do so.

*It is important to note that a pre-discharge exam is likely performed before exit, and that this often plays a part in determining the severity of your disability.

What if you are one of these recently discharged Veterans, and you have received the BDD decision, and you are not satisfied with you rating? Well, my advice would be to call our law firm, and let us help with your appeal. That may seem like an awfully abrupt statement, but here is why I recommend coming to our firm. Once you start the appeals process things become a lot more complicated, and it is nowhere near as quick as the BDD. In fact appeals take anywhere from 12-18 months before a Veteran receives a decision. In this time there is evidence to be filed, exams that you have to attend, and enough paperwork to make the biggest bureaucrats sigh. Ask any Veteran who has been through the Disability process, it’s not simple. Many Veterans turn our law firm because of the peace of mind we are able to provide. We are well versed in VA law, and have a knowledgeable staff that can assist you. If you would like to learn more about the services we provide, give us a call today. 1-877-526-3457

How does moving affect my VA Claim?

By Jon Corra · June 23, 2012
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As a whole, those who serve in the Military learn to be quite nomadic. From the time you join the service and enter boot camp, until the time you are discharged, you have likely had more than one temporary address.

As a Veteran, moving is a big possibility too. Once you have changed your mailing address, hooked up your utilities at your new home, and most importantly, got your cable back, it’s time to think of how moving alters your VA Disability claim. The biggest thing that impacts  your VA claim when you move is actually where you move. Let’s explore this subject in a little more detail.

Let’s say you live in West Virginia. In this situation, you are moving from Parkersburg which is in the northern part of the state, to Charleston, which is in the southern part of the state. In this situation there won’t likely be many issues, or delays in your case. The reason for this is that you would be moving in state, and West Virginia only has one regional VA office. (It is important to note that you must notify the VA of your new address as soon as possible to avoid missing correspondence.)

Now let’s see what happens if you have to move out of state. Let’s say you move from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. Since you are moving from one state to another, not only do you have to change your address, you must also change your VA Regional Office. When changing Regional Offices, you will likely encounter delays. The reason for this is quite simple; your file must be moved from one state to another. Just like all of your belongings had to be transferred the same holds true for your VA File.  Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as sending a FedEx package from one office to the next.   You must request your claims file be transferred to your new VA Regional office.

We mentioned moving to Pennsylvania earlier which brings up another great point. Some states have more than one Regional Office. These states include: Pennsylvania, New York and Texas with two, and California with three. It is possible to move from one side of the state to the other side, and still change Regional Offices. If you do move within these states, check this website to see if your Regional Office has changed. (Note: States that cover a large physical area, but are sparsely populated have bordering counties that are actually serviced by a neighboring state. An example of this situation would be Hancock County in West Virginia. Instead of Huntington being your Regional Office, you would go to Pittsburgh.)

We realize subjects like this can be confusing, and at times, upsetting. At Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, we handle these kinds of tasks for you. It’s just one of the many reasons so many Veterans turn to us for help with their claim. To learn more about what we do, call our office today: 1-977-526-3457. If you would rather tell us about your claim now, feel free to fill out the online form.

 

 

 

Can I Service Connect for Parkinson’s Disease with the VA?

By Jon Corra · January 25, 2012
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What is it? Can you get it service connected? Is it a presumptive condition?

Today, we will be discussing Parkinson’s disease. This disease is a chronic and progressive disorder that affects your nervous system, meaning it develops gradually and gets worse over time. As you may know, one of the most noticeable signs of Parkinson’s disease is a tremor.    However, there are some signs and symptoms you can be watching for if you think you are developing Parkinson’s disease.

Please be aware that every person is affected by this disease in a different way. It is common for the signs and symptoms to begin on one side of the body, and may continue to be worse on that side throughout the disease process.

Some typical signs and symptoms are:

·        Tremor

·        Slowed motion

·        Rigid muscles

·        Difficulty with posture and balance

·        Loss of automatic movements such as blinking, swinging your arms and smiling

·        Changes in your speech

·        And difficulty remembering things

If you feel you may be suffering from this disease, please make an appointment to see a private physician or contact your local VA medical center. Typically, you will be referred to a neurologist, who is a physician that specializes in disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, for a final diagnosis. There are a few steps you can take to make this appointment more beneficial:

·        Make a list of any symptoms you are having and when they began. Also, does anything make these symptoms better?

·        Have you had any major stress or big changes in your life recently?

·        Bring a list of current medications you are taking.

·        Have a family member or friend come with you to the doctors appointment.

·        Make a list of questions you may have for the doctor.

 

You may be wondering, “Why are we discussing this disease?” Well, this disease in particular is a presumptive condition of exposure to Agent Orange. This means that if you were exposed to Agent Orange and you have a DIAGNOSIS BY A PHYSICIAN, you could be entitled to monetary and medical benefits through the VA.

There are specific criteria you must meet to be considered “exposed to Agent Orange”. For a full list of exposure criteria and geographic areas that were exposed to Agent Orange, please visit www.va.gov .

At the current time, the minimum amount of service connection you can receive for Parkinson’s disease is 30%.

Often times it can be a confusing or overwhelming process to file a new claim and submit the needed medical evidence. If you have questions or need assistance with this process you may want to seek the legal help of attorneys like the ones at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. We have the people, knowledge, and resources to help you get the benefits you deserve. For a free phone consultation, give us a call at 1-877-526-3457.

 

What is an IME for a VA Disability Claim?

By Jon Corra · January 16, 2012
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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 some Deadlines Associated with the VA Disability Process?

By Jon Corra · December 28, 2011
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If I pursue a claim for Veterans Benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, are there deadlines for documents to be submitted and appeals to be filed?  This is a very good question because there are several different deadlines the Dept. of VA implements depending on what information or appeals are necessary. 

The following deadlines need to be considered when pursuing a claim with the Dept. of VA:

·         VA Document Requesting Evidence or Completion of Forms – the VA usually allows 30 to 60 days for the claimant to respond.  The specific number of days will be listed in the letter.

·         Rating Decision or Decision Review Officer Decision – the claimant has One (1) Year from the date of the decision to file a Notice of Disagreement or NOD.

·         A Proposal to Sever or Decrease Current VA Benefits – the claimant has Thirty (30) Days from the date of the decision to request a hearing on the proposal.  If the hearing request is filed within 30 days, the Dept. of VA will not implement the proposal prior to the hearing being held.

·         Statement of the Case or SOC – the claimant has Sixty (60) Days from the date of the SOC to file a VA9 (Request for Hearing).

·         Supplemental Statement of the Case or SSOC – the claimant has Thirty (30) Days from the date of the SSOC to file an appeal.

·         Board of Veterans Affairs or BVA Decision – the claimant has One Hundred Twenty (120) Days from the date of the BVA decision to file an appeal.   

Keeping tack of these deadlines can be very difficult and confusing. This is just one of the reasons so many Veterans turn to the legal team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. We have a full system in place to make sure deadlines are met. Call us today for a free phone consultation: 1-877-526-3457. Or, tell us about your claim now.