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Securing Veterans’ Disability Benefits

Approximately 4.9 million US Veterans were living with service-connected disabilities as of 2022. You might assume these brave individuals would have straightforward access to compensation for their sacrifices.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This is where Veteran disability lawyers come in. They work tirelessly to ensure these heroes get the compensation they are rightfully entitled to.

Veteran Laws

Veteran disability benefits in the United States, a critical lifeline for our heroes, are firmly grounded in legislation. Central to these laws is the Veterans Benefits Act of 1957, a pivotal piece of legislation that led to the establishment of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Over time, additional laws have expanded and refined the original Act, outlining benefits for disabled Veterans based on their specific needs.

Qualifying For Benefits

To qualify for Veteran disability benefits, you must prove that your ailment or disability is service-connected. Service-connected means that physical injuries, illnesses, or psychological harm, like PTSD, directly result from your military service.

Some disabilities can surface years after leaving service. Take, for instance, the diseases arising from harmful exposure during service, a key example being the infamous Camp Lejeune water contamination or exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide.

Similarly, Veterans have reported ailments linked to burn pits in Iraq, asbestos on Naval ships, ionizing radiation, and firefighting foams known as Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF).

For a long time, these Veterans struggled to access benefits. That’s until President Biden signed the bipartisan PACT Act of 2022. This groundbreaking law has added more presumptive disabilities for Agent Orange, Burn Pits, and Toxic exposures, marking one of the largest healthcare and benefits expansions in VA history.

Benefit Valuation

“Just as in any legal process, the burden of proof for service connections falls on the shoulders of the claimant, who in this case is the Veteran. However, the system is designed to be quite Veteran-friendly,” says Attorney Jan Dils of Fight4Vets.

After establishing the service connection, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assigns a disability rating ranging from 0% to 100%. This rating directly influences the benefits received by the Veteran. For instance, a 10% disability rating merits approximately $166 per month, while a 100% disability rating brings in around $3,621.

Notably, a Veteran can receive 100% benefits if deemed unemployable due to their condition, even when their disability rating might not be 100%.

Appeal Avenues

If your application for Veteran disability benefits is denied, there are multiple appeal avenues you can explore. You can start with the Supplemental Claim Lane. Here, you get to submit new and relevant evidence to fortify your claim. After reviewing the fresh evidence, the VA will make a new decision.

If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, you can proceed to the Higher-Level Review Lane. Within this lane, a more experienced VA reviewer takes a fresh look at your claim, strictly based on the evidence on record at the time of the initial decision. This route is especially beneficial for rectifying incorrect disability ratings and effective dates.

Finally, if the previous avenues do not yield satisfactory results, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) Lane is your last resort. At this level, a Veterans Law Judge will make the final decision on your claim. This is the highest authority within the VA for such matters.

A Veteran Disability Lawyer Can Help

This whole process can be overwhelming, especially when you have a disability to deal with, and this is where a Veteran disability lawyer comes in handy. You do not have to worry about the cost of hiring, most charge a contingency fee on the benefits, and the VA keeps tabs to ensure fair charges.

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