It should be a simple task to file a claim for disability benefits. Yet for veterans who are in dire need of disability compensation, the process is distorted by unforgivable delays and denials.
This article reveals the reality of the process for filing and securing disability benefits for veterans and their families. We also identify reasons for claim denial, and actions you can take to help yourself as much as possible.
To see the total picture of the VA claims process at a glance, please click on our informational graphic.
The Veterans Disability Claims Process
Once the initial claim is filed, the amount of paperwork, the levels of command, and the different systems a claim goes through is exhausting and time consuming:
- On any typical claim, the wounded veteran must fill out 22 forms.
- All paperwork then travels through 8 levels of command.
- Next, the paperwork must go through 16 different information systems.
Some VA disability claims take months, others take years to process. With such a system, it is no surprise that America has an average of 5000 wounded veterans waiting on claims processing.
Thousands of claims for disability benefits for veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are still pending decision. Aging Vietnam veterans with recent or worsening medical conditions continue to request help. In 2006, overall, there were 400,000 new claims backlogged with the VA.
Types of Veterans Disability Claims
From the initial claim to the VA final decision, obtaining disability benefits for veterans can take from 6 months to 2 years to process. Returning veterans suffer a host of disabilities. The four most common types of claims are:
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) – PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can happen after a life-changing traumatic event. Veterans suffering from PTSD may have drinking problems, feelings of hopelessness, employment or relationship problems, as well as many physical symptoms.In 2005, 20,394 veterans were treated for PTSD, increasing to 39,331 treated in 2006.
- TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) –Traumatic brain injury is usually due to a blast-related situation in combat, resulting in a hard impact to the head. Veterans suffering from TBI can experience difficulty with concentration, changes in behavior, emotions, and senses, as well physical injury.11-28% of veterans exposed to a bomb blast may experience mild TBI.
- Mental Illness – Veterans may endure mental disorders as a result of a traumatic combat-related experience. Statistics show that 38-98% heath assessment failure rate exists for pre- and post-deployment veterans.
- Amputations – Many veterans suffer limb impairment due to combat. In 2004, 156 veterans were treated with an amputation. With the rise in up-armored Humvees, by 2006 the number of amputations declined to approximately 100.
Denials of Disability Benefits for Veterans – Why So Many?
Even with what seemingly should be straightforward claims, veterans face outright denials, unsatisfactory ratings, or months or years of delays. In light of the grueling VA claims process, the reasons disability benefits for veterans are denied are numerous, including:
- Inadequate information in the claim
- Missed deadline
- Disability ruled as non-service related
- VA does not consider the symptoms to be severe enough
- Evidence provided was insufficient
- The VA ruled the injury as a pre-existing condition
- The veteran filled out the wrong forms
- Lack of professional representation
- The veteran was not disabled from working in his or her own occupation
- The claim is still being processed by the VA
Consider the above list of causes for denial. Have any of these situations happened with your claim? We are prepared to assist you in any of these matters.
Attorney representation plays a key role in the fight to secure disability benefits for veterans.
An experienced veterans lawyer will save you from the hazards that can endanger your claim, and significantly increase your chance of securing the benefits your country owes you. The VA will have its lawyers defending its decision to deny your claim before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. It is critical that you have qualified legal counsel who is committed to fight for you.
Be selective in your choice of attorney. Choose a law firm based on their skills and experience. Find out more about our accredited veterans claim attorneys. We have represented veterans across the country since 1992, and we would be proud to assist you.
Read more about recovering disability benefits for veterans though the VA disability claims and appeals process.