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Tip #1: Don’t Take Bad Advice
“But my friend at the VFW told me…” is very dangerous statement. Your friend at the VFW may not be a qualified source for VA law. Relying on statements from friends about VA law has earned many veterans a denial from the Veterans Administration. VA law is complicated and there are thousands of federal regulations that can affect your case. Do not take bad advice from a friend just because they receive benefits.
If you are denied VA disability benefits because you filed your claim wrong, you may consider a VA appeal. We warn you, VA disability benefits appeals can be lengthy. That is why it is so important not to take bad advice when you are applying. Submitting your claim correctly the first time is going to make this entire process easier for you.
Tip #2: Provide Relevant Evidence
Many veterans do not fully understand how medical evidence fits into their VA disability benefits claim. Rule of thumb: you are going to have to prove you (1) have this medical condition and (2) how it is service-connected. Never assume the Decision Review Officer (DRO) at the Veterans Administration is actually going to read through every page of your Claims File (C-File). The VA employees are over-worked and often under-trained.
If you are trying to obtain Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits you are going to have to submit evidence to show that you are unemployable. Things such as your work history can help. When applying, flat out explain to the VA why you can’t work from your service-connected impairments. Don’t assume they are going to link your unemployability to your conditions.
Remember, you need to tell the story of how you are disabled and why you are entitled to VA disability benefits to the Veterans Administration through your evidence.
Tip#3: Treating With Doctors Can Help
Treating with a doctor for your service-connected conditions can help your claim. Consider the viewpoint of the Veterans Administration; if you are not treating for your conditions, they must not be that bad and you must not need VA disability benefits.
Another reason treating with a doctor helps is that you are creating a record of your medical condition. The Veterans Administration wants evidence! Your treating physician’s record can be submitted to the VA when you are applying for benefits. You will get a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam, but we highly suggest you do not let that be your only medical evidence.
Many veterans prefer to treat with doctors outside the VA system. That is fine. You can submit those medical records too. If you have more than one doctor, submit all of their records that pertain to your condition.
Tip #4: Buddy Statements Can Help
Sometimes veterans have to prove that their military service made their conditions worse or caused them. It can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint when a medical condition started. However, if you can prove that you entered the service different than when you left, it can help your claim. Statements from your friends and family can be considered by the Veterans Administration.
You can also get buddy statements from people you served with. Suppose a traumatic event like an IED was not on your military records. You could get statements from people you served with to prove it happened. Many Vietnam veterans have used buddy statements to prove they were exposed to Agent Orange or in a shootout with the Viet Cong.
Tip #5: Hire an Experienced Lawyer
If you want your VA disability benefits claim done right, hire an experienced lawyer. Some veterans fight the Veteran Administration for over a decade alone. They keep getting denied because they don’t know VA law, they keep submitting their claim wrong and keep submitting the wrong evidence.
Other veterans claims fail because they sough the help of an unqualified Veterans Service Officer (VSO). You wouldn’t believe how many veterans who hire Woods & Woods first had their claim screwed up by a free VSO. You get what you pay for.
Finished reading these 5 tips for winning your VA Disability Benefits claim? Need more help? Get a free legal consultation.
Woods & Woods offers free VA disability benefits claim evaluations. We want you to know your legal rights. For no cost, you can call us and ask all the questions you have about VA disability benefits. There is never a charge to talk to our law firm. For help, fill out the online contact form or call toll-free (866) 232-5777.