As I have been working in our VA department for close to the two and one half years now, I have picked up on a few trends. One of the biggest things I have noticed is that there are a ton of myths about VA Disability Compensation floating around. Well, we have this VA blog set up, it gets a lot of traffic, why not take the time to separate the facts from the fiction? Honestly, what I have listed below are examples of things I hear every day.
1: Deny, deny, deny until you die. FALSE. If this were true then we probably would not be in business too long. While most Veterans do get denied the first time they apply, it is still possible to get service connected. We do a thorough review of all of your records to make sure you are eligible for benefits. We will only pursue valid claims. In fact, we receive favorable decisions on our clients on a regular basis. The thing to remember that you have to put in a lot of time and work to get service connected disability.
2: The VA is out to get me. FALSE. I don’t work for the VA, and I have never been to one, but I find it hard to believe that the employees are plotting against anyone. We work with several Regional Offices throughout the nation, and they are people just like you and I. Did you know a lot VA’s employees are Veterans? These people have so much work to that they really don’t have the time to plot against individuals. Now, is the system flawed? Yes, but the VA is taking steps to improve the backlog and make the process better.
3: Back pay will go back to the time I was injured. FALSE. No matter when you served, who you are, or what your injury is, back pay originates when you initially file for benefits. (As long as your claim does not close.) Now, some of you might say: “my buddy got it back when he was injured.” Well, he likely applied as a part of his discharge process. No two claims are alike; therefore everyone gets connected at different times.
4: I may have to wait forever for my benefits. Kind of true…sadly. On average, a claim can take between 3-5 years. Some are shorter than that, others are longer, but even a year can feel like an eternity when you are waiting to get the benefits you deserve.
5. I was injured when I was serving and I will automatically get service connected for it now. FALSE. When it comes to service connection you have to have the disability in the present. For instance, let’s say you served in 1984, and had an incident in which your knee was injured. You sought treatment for it, continued on, and received your discharge in 1993. Well, it’s almost 30 years since that injury occurred. If your knee feels fine now, then the best you are likely to get 0% connected. In other words, you were injured in the service but it is not affecting you now.
6. I served in combat; I will automatically get service connected for PTSD. FALSE. This one has been coming up a lot lately and shows how much false information is out there about the VA. I wish it were that simple. In order to get service connected for PTSD, you must have a diagnosis from a doctor, treatment, and many more factors in order to get service connected for PTSD. On the flipside of this a lot Veterans are under the impression that they have to serve in combat in order to service connect for PTSD. This too is FALSE. Even if you never left the country, served during peace time, or were even in the Coast Guard, you can get service connected for PTSD. We reference the Coast Guard as so many Veterans we talk in the Coast Guard are under the impression that they can’t file for PTSD.
7. Can I file a claim for Agent Orange? NO…but you can file for a presumptive condition. If I had a dime for every time I had someone ask to file a claim on Agent Orange, I could easily purchase a value meal at a leading fast food chain. We always reply the same way; “You can’t file a claim for exposure to Agent Orange, you can file a claim for a disability associated with Agent Orange. So many Veterans are misinformed about this subject. One thing to think about here is that there are several conditions that are a presumptive, and you can get service connected for multiple disabilities under Agent Orange.
8. Hiring an attorney will speed up my case. FALSE. (We wish it were true though.) When it comes to your VA Disability claim there are really only two ways to speed it up. The first way is if you are terminally ill, the second, is if you are facing economic hardship.
9. Hiring an attorney will slow down my claim. FALSE. This one really does not make much sense. However, we often hear from prospective clients that a friend told them an attorney would slow their case down. Once again misinformation plays a huge role in this myth. If hiring an attorney slowed your case down then why would we be doing this in the first place? We submit claims, file appeals, review and submit evidence, represent Veterans at all three levels of hearings, and do so much more. Hiring an attorney can actually be more efficient. While we can’t speed it up in the traditional sense, we can actually keep you from wasting time on claims. Our attorneys and staff are so well versed in VA Law, that we know what can be filed and what cannot be filed. We are also efficient in our review process, requesting process, and even when it comes to evidence submission.
10. I should wait until my VA Claim is over before I file for Social Security. FALSE. While this is false, I do understand where this logic comes from. For instance: “I can use evidence from one to argue the other.” While that is true, that does not mean you can’t do both at the same time. While Social Security and VA are alike in some ways, they are actually quite different. To put simply, the VA’s job is to determine if your disability is a result from your time in service. Social Security on the other hand is in place to determine if you are disabled, regardless how you became disabled. So, it is likely that you are eligible for both. Also, doing both can be very stressful for anyone. Hiring a law firm that handles both Social Security and VA Disability, like Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, can relieve a great amount of that stress.
I hope I made some things about the VA a little clearer now. If you have further questions, give me a call now for a free consultation: 1-877-526-3457, or fill out this form, and I’ll call you.