Most people who apply for disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (also known as the VA) do so within a year of being discharged from the service. However, some people may not apply for disability benefits until years afterwards, with some people only seeking benefits decades later. But why might someone want to apply for benefits so long after their military service ended?
- The disability did not appear until much later
- One of the most common reasons that people do not apply for VA disability benefits is that their disability does not appear until long after their service. This most often a consequence of exposure to toxic chemicals during a service member’s time in the military, such as breathing in smoke from a burn pit. The medical problems caused by these toxins may take years to manifest, leading to the need to apply for disability benefits.
- The disability worsened over time
- Another reason people may not apply for disability benefits until long after their service is over is their disability did not start off bad enough to merit a disability rating. However, over time, any chronic medical condition can get worse, potentially reaching the point that it becomes disabling. When that happens, it may be time to apply to the VA for benefits.
- There is new evidence connecting the disability to your service
- When you apply for VA disability benefits, there is a requirement that you show your disability is connected to your service. In some cases, this can be far easier said than done, and many veterans have their applications denied due to a lack of evidence connecting their condition to their service. If new evidence emerges that shows the disability is service-related, it can mean re-evaluating their initial application.
- There is more scientific evidence for the disability
- While people like to think that the modern understanding of medical conditions is pretty advanced, the fact is that new information is constantly being discovered. New scientific advances can help to connect your medical issues with your service, when that information was not available when you were initially discharged. As a result, you may have an opportunity to obtain benefits that you did not have before.
- The veteran hesitated to apply for benefits they were otherwise qualified for
- A shocking number of veterans who might otherwise qualify for disability benefits through the VA simply choose not to apply for them, for one reason or another. As a result, they miss out on financial assistance and other benefits that can substantially improve their quality of life. The sooner you apply, the sooner you can get access to the benefits you deserve.
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.