Getting disability benefits through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) is not easy, even at the best of times. It involves a potentially intensive evaluation process, and it can be easy to make a mistake that can interfere with your ability to get benefits. That is why you should make sure you satisfy all the necessary criteria and have all your paperwork in place before applying. Here are five things you need to do to be able to access veterans’ disability benefits:
- You must be a member of the armed forces who was honorably discharged
- Veterans’ disability benefits are exclusively available to veterans who were honorably discharged from the military. If you were not a member of the armed forces, or were dishonorably discharged, these benefits are not available to you. Whether you served in a combat role or not is irrelevant, so long as you are in good standing with the military.
- You must have a major illness or injury related to your military service
- Veterans’ disability benefits only cover disabilities related to your military service. This does not mean you need to have first begun experiencing medical issues while you were in the military. Certain medical issues, such as psychological disabilities or cancers related to carcinogen exposure, may not appear until months or years after the fact, and the VA recognizes this. However, you still need to be able to demonstrate your physical or psychological disability is related to your military service, or you will not be able to access your benefits.
- You illness or injury must be sufficient to constitute a disability
- It is not enough to suffer a physical or psychological ailment due to your military service. It must also impair you to the point that it constitutes a disability. In other words, it must be severe enough that it impedes your ability to do day-to-day tasks, or it must interfere with your ability to perform work. If your medical condition does not rise to that level of impairment, you may not receive veterans’ disability benefits.
- You must have medical evidence of your disability
- To prove your disability, you need to have medical records available proving both that you have a disability and that your disability is related to your military service. Often, these records will be with the VA’s medical staff already, if your symptoms manifested while you were deployed. However, if your medical problems did not appear until later, the VA will also need to be able to access your medical records from any private physicians you have seen.
- You must make sure all your paperwork is filled out correctly
- Finally, once you know you have met all the proper criteria, you need to make sure all your paperwork is in order. While it is possible to do all of that yourself, it can be complicated, and even a small mistake could delay your ability to access your benefits, or result in an outright denial. That is why you should seek assistance when applying for veterans’ disability benefits, to make sure you get it right the first time.
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.