If you have served in the military and suffered a physical or psychological disability as a result, you are entitled to disability benefits through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). However, before you can gain access to those benefits, you first must go through an application process, during which problems can potentially arise. Here are five potential problems you may face when applying for veterans’ disability benefits:
- Proving you have a disability
- While many forms of disability are easy to demonstrate (for example, if you lost a limb during your service), other disabilities can be much more subtle, which could make them harder to prove. This is particularly true of psychological disabilities, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be difficult to diagnose. Alternately, you may suffer a medical condition because of your service, but it may not be considered severe enough to count as a disability. In these cases, you may need to fight simply to prove you are suffering a disability at all, impeding your ability to access veterans’ disability benefits.
- Disability has multiple possible causes
- Even when your disability is recognized, the VA will sometimes deny that your disability is related to your military service. This is crucial because you can only receive veterans’ disability benefits for a disability you obtained because of your service. This is particularly true of disabilities that can occur naturally, such as asthma, depression, or diabetes, or with disabilities whose causes are easily found outside of military situations, such as cancer. As such, you may need to fight extra hard to find evidence that ties your condition to your military service.
- Significant time has elapsed
- Unfortunately, many kinds of disabilities only become obvious months or years after your service has ended, which makes it harder to prove that your disability is the result of your service. This is particularly true of cancers or other chronic conditions caused by exposure to toxic or carcinogenic chemicals, or of psychological conditions whose effects may not be apparent until long after you start experiencing their symptoms. The longer it is between your military service and when you start experiencing symptoms of your disability, the harder you will need to fight to access your veterans’ disability benefits.
- Proving severity of disability
- The VA uses a system to classify the severity of an individual’s disability or disabilities, ranking them on a percentage scale from 0% to 100% disability. The greater a person’s disability rating, the greater the amount of benefits they receive from the VA, meaning you generally want to get a disability rating that is as high as possible. Many veterans whose disabilities are recognized by the VA may still struggle to get an appropriate disability rating, which can limit their benefits.
- Condition not medically recognized
- While the VA generally tries to keep up to date with the latest understanding of modern medicine, it can still sometimes come across medical conditions it has never encountered before, or which it has no official classification for. Fortunately, simply because your condition is not medically recognized does not mean it is impossible for you to get veterans’ disability benefits through the VA. Unfortunately, it does mean it will be much harder to prove your disability, because you will not have a specific diagnosis you can point to as the cause of your problems.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.