Frequently Asked Questions


How many times can I apply for VA disability benefits?

Veterans can apply for VA disability benefits as many times as they like. You will just need to let your previous appeal period collapse before you reapply. A previous denial does not bar veterans from filing a new claim.

 

Read more about applying for VA disability benefits here:

Help Applying For VA Benefits

 

How do I maximize my VA disability?

Veterans who want to maximize their VA disability ratings should always remember that evidence is the most important element of your claim. To maximize your VA disability rating, always remember to include reports from doctors, nexus letters, buddy statements, lay statements, and a well-written brief summarizing your conditions. At Woods and Woods, we generally hire experts for almost every VA disability appeal we file. Expert reports from psychologists, family doctors, oncologists, vocational experts, and more help veterans win their VA disability claims.

 

You can read more about maximizing your VA disability rating here:

How to Get a Higher VA Rating and Increased Compensation for your Disability

Will my wife receive my VA disability when I die?

If a service-connected veteran dies from service-connected conditions, your wife may be able to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits. If the veteran dies from a condition during the application or appeal process and that condition is later found service-connected, the veteran’s widow may be eligible for DIC benefits.

 

Read more about DIC benefits here:

Benefits for Widows and Widowers of Deceased Veterans

 

How do you get 100 disability for PTSD?

For a veteran to receive a 100% PTSD rating, the veteran must experience total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as:

  • gross impairment in thought processes or communication.
  • persistent delusions or hallucinations.
  • grossly inappropriate behavior.
  • persistent danger of hurting self or others.
  • intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene).
  • disorientation to time or place.
  • memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.

 

Read more about 100% VA disability ratings for PTSD here:

How To Get a 100 Percent VA Disability Rating For PTSD

 

Can you get 100 disability for PTSD and still work?

Yes. Veterans that receive a 100% VA disability rating for PTSD can work full time. If your actual schedular rating is 100%, there are no limits to how much you can work. However, veterans that are receiving Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) are paid at the 100% rate but have restrictions on the amount of income you can earn.

 

Read more about 100% PTSD ratings here:

How To Get a 100 Percent VA Disability Rating For PTSD

 

 

 

Can veterans get Individual Unemployability for PTSD?

Yes. Veterans with severe PTSD can achieve an Individual Unemployability rating from the VA. If a veteran’s PTSD is severe enough that the veteran cannot keep or obtain substantial employment, the veteran may be able to receive Individual Unemployability benefits for PTSD. Veterans that obtain PTSD Individual Unemployability benefits often experience:

  • suicidal ideation
  • obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities
  • speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant
  • near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively
  • impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence)
  • spatial disorientation
  • neglect of personal appearance and hygiene
  • difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a work-like setting)
  • inability to establish and maintain effective relationships

 

Read more about PTSD Individual Unemployability benefits here:

How Successful PTSD Individual Unemployability Benefits Claims Work

 

Do you want to claim Individual Unemployability?

Veterans that cannot work from service-connected conditions should explore Individual Unemployability benefits as an option. Individual Unemployability benefits pay the same as a 100% VA rating but you are not required to obtain a 100% rating. If you DO NOT plan on returning to work because of service-connected impairments, apply for Individual Unemployability. If you DO plan on returning to work full time, Individual Unemployability benefits are probably not your best option. If you earn too much money while receiving Individual Unemployability benefits, the VA will take away your Individual Unemployability rating.

 

Learn more about VA Individual Unemployability here:

VA Unemployability Requirements and Income Limits

 

Can I work if I get TDIU?

In order to gain approval for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits claims, a veteran is required to demonstrate that they are unable to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation as a result of their service-connected disabilities. Veterans may not work full time while earning TDIU benefits. Veterans who obtain Individual Unemployability are only allowed to work if they meet the strict guidelines for marginal employment, protected work environments, or sheltered work environments.

 

Read more about marginal employment and protected or sheltered work environments:

TDIU Claims: Marginal Employment and Protected or Sheltered Work Environments

 

Can the VA take away your disability rating?

Unfortunately, yes the VA can take away your disability rating. Generally, the VA takes away ratings because:

  1. The veteran’s service-connected condition has improved.
  2. The veteran was receiving TDIU benefits and went back to work.
  3. The veteran’s cancer has gone away and treatment is no longer needed.
  4. The VA made a mistake. Veterans can appeal if a rating is taken away.
  5. The VA ordered a reexamination and found the veteran’s ratings incorrect.

 

Learn more about why the VA reduces ratings here:

Can the VA reduce my Veterans Disability Benefits rating?

 

How do I file for Individual Unemployability?

  • Veterans can apply through eBenefits found on the VA’s website.
  • Veterans can contact their local VSO, VFW, or the DAV.
  • Veterans can go to their local VA office.
  • Veterans can use Woods & Woods to apply for free. They’ll help you through the entire Individual Unemployability application process at no cost.

 

Learn more about Individual Unemployability benefits here:

The Ultimate Guide to VA Individual Unemployability: TDIU

 

How do you qualify for TDIU?

  • You must be a veteran
  • You must have at least one service-connected disability rated at least 60%, OR
  • Two or more service-connected disabilities at least one disability ratable at 40% or more with a combined rating of 70% or more.
  • You must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities.

 

Learn more about qualifying for Individual Unemployability here:

Individual Unemployability Fact Sheet | VA Unemployability Must Read

 

What is the VA rating for sleep apnea?

The VA sleep apnea rating system is found in the federal code 38 C.F.R. § 4.97, Code 6847. The VA rates sleep apnea with four different ratings: 0%, 30%, 50%, and 100%. Veterans that require a CPAP machine for service-connected sleep apnea will receive a 50% VA disability rating. A 100% sleep apnea rating is reserved for chronic respiratory failure with carbon dioxide retention or where the veteran requires a tracheostomy.

 

Learn more about VA disability ratings for sleep apnea here:

VA Sleep Apnea Rating: How do disabled veterans get these benefits?

 

Can sleep apnea be service-connected?

Yes. Veterans can service-connect their sleep apnea. The first way to service-connect sleep apnea is by direct service-connection where you will show your sleep apnea started while in the service. The second path to service-connecting sleep apnea is through secondary service-connected impairments like acid reflux, asthma, chronic rhinitis, heart disease, hypertension, sinusitis, strokes, and diabetes.

 

Learn more about service-connecting sleep apnea here:

VA Sleep Apnea Rating: How do disabled veterans get these benefits?

 

How long does VA disability last?

Veterans can receive VA disability benefits for the rest of their life as long as their conditions do not improve. If the veteran passes away from one of those service-connected conditions, their spouse will be eligible for benefits. The VA may order a reexamination of your disabilities and they can reduce your rating. Assuming your service-connected conditions have not improved, you will continue to get VA disability benefits. Veterans can receive Individual Unemployability benefits as long as they do not return to work full time and their conditions do not improve. One way to protect yourself from a rating reduction is to obtain a permanent rating from the VA.

 

Read and learn more about permanent VA disability ratings here:

How to Obtain Permanent and Total Disability VA Benefits Ratings

 

What percentage of VA disability claims are denied?

According to the VA’s 2017 report:

  • 13.79% denied with an attorney
  • 22.05% denied with VFW representative
  • 23.40%  denied with DAV representative
  • 26.47% denied with AMVETS representative
  • 27.05% denied with no representative

 

Read more about VA disability appeal success rate here:

What is the VA Disability Appeal Success Rate?

 

How much can a VA disability lawyer charge?

Veterans disability benefits lawyers generally charge between 20% to 33% of backpay and case expenses when the appeal is won. Woods and Woods only charges veterans 20% of backpay and case expenses if their VA claim is successful. If your claim is not won, you pay Woods and Woods nothing. Other law firms may charge up to 33% and case expenses if an appeal is won.

Learn more about the costs of a VA disability lawyer here:

How much does a Veterans Disability Benefits Lawyer cost?

Do I need a lawyer for VA disability?

Veterans are not required by law to hire a VA disability lawyer. However, we highly recommend talking with a lawyer about your claim before you file anything. For example, Woods & Woods offers all veterans free legal consultations where you can find out what is best for your claim. If you have a simple tinnitus claim, a VSO will probably be fine. If you have a complicated VA disability claim or were denied benefits, it might be in your best interest to obtain a VA disability compensation lawyer.

 

Learn more about hiring a VA disability lawyer here:

VA Disability Compensation Lawyer

 

Do VA disability lawyers work?

Woods and Woods law firm has successfully fought for thousands upon thousands of disabled veterans. Many clients had previously used free veterans services for years only to receive denial after denial. “We are always surprised that veterans don’t reach out to us earlier in the process. So often they wait until they receive several denials and are frustrated with the entire system,” claimed VA disability attorney Neil Woods. According to a 2017 VA report, VA disability attorneys won more appeals than free VSOs, self-represented veterans, the VFW, and DAV reps.

 

Learn more about how VA disability lawyers work here:

VA Disability Compensation Lawyer

 

Should I hire a lawyer for my VA claim?

VA claim attorneys know how to work with evidence. Just submitting a few medical records is probably not going to be sufficient. For example, at Woods and Woods law firm, they hire experts for just about every single appeal they file. To support a veteran’s brief, a VA disability lawyer will often use reports from oncologists, vocational experts, psychologists, medical doctors, etc. who already know VA law. Your VA claim lawyer is likely to also gather statements from friends, family members, and veterans you served with to support your claim. A lot of work goes into successful VA disability claims. If someone tells you that you’re just going to need to submit some forms to win, they are dead wrong.

 

Learn more about why veterans hire VA lawyers for their claims here:

VA Disability Compensation Lawyer

 

What is a VA accredited attorney?

For an attorney to practice VA law, the VA requires them to become accredited. This certification shows that the attorney is capable of practicing VA law. Veterans who wish to hire an attorney for their VA disability claim should first find out if the attorney is accredited.

 

Learn more about VA accredited attorneys here:

VA Certified Disability Attorney | VA Accredited Veterans Benefits Lawyer

 

How do VA disability attorneys get paid?

At Woods and Woods, your VA disability attorney will only get paid if you win your appeal. The VA disability attorney will be paid directly from the VA when your appeal is won. The fee is 20% of backpay and case expenses. Beware, some law firms do charge up to 33% of backpay. Make sure and ask your VA disability lawyer about fees during your free legal consultation. Make sure your attorney-client contract explicitly states the amount the attorney will receive if the appeal is won.

Learn more about hiring VA disability attorneys here:

VA Disability Compensation Lawyer

How much does the VA pay for disability?

The monthly amount of VA benefits veterans are paid varies greatly. A 10% VA rating pays $136.24 per month. A veteran with a 100% VA rating or Individual Unemployability rating can receive up to $3,527.22 per month. Veterans can receive ratings of 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, or 100% and that rating will determine the monthly VA disability benefit paid. Veterans can also receive extra benefits for caretakers, dependent children, and dependent parents.

See what your rating should be on our VA disability calculator:

VA Disability Benefits Rating Calculator for Veterans

 

Do I get back pay for VA disability appeal?

If your VA disability appeal is approved, you should get back pay all the way back to your effective date. Most veterans will find their effective date is the date they filed the claim. Some veterans may be able to push their effective date back farther. If you file a claim within one year of leaving service, your effective date will be the day you were discharged. Some veterans may even be able to re-open old claims and preserve an effective date that is years old. Understanding how to calculate your effective date is extremely important. For example, if you receive a 100% rating that pays $3,057.13 a month and your effective date is off by one year, that is $36,685.56 in missing VA disability back pay.

Read more about VA disability appeal effective dates here:

The Right VA Disability Effective Date Can Put Thousands in Your Pocket

 

What does a VA remanded appeal mean?

The Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) may approve, deny, or remand your VA disability appeal. If your VA disability appeal is remanded, it will be sent back to the VA Regional Office (VARO). Your claim will get further development or reconsideration once back at the VARO. BVA remanded decisions occur because the BVA has ordered the VARO to get updated or additional evidence to issue a new decision. A BVA remand can add time to your claim, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Learn more about VA remanded appeals here:

BVA Remanded Decisions: Why was my VA disability appeal remanded?

 

Why are VA claims denied?

One of the most common reasons VA claims are denied is because the veteran or VSO did not know how to use evidence to prove a service-connected disability. If you think submitting your medical records and an application is enough to win your VA claim, you might learn the hard way with a denial. Presenting evidence through lay statements, buddy statements, psychological reports, doctor reports, vocational experts, etc. is how you win VA claims. If your VA claim was denied we highly suggest you re-think how you submitted and presented evidence to the VA.

Learn more about appealing a denied VA claim here:

10 Things You Must Know For Your VA Disability Rating Appeal

 

Can you claim anxiety with the VA?

Veterans can receive VA disability benefits for service-connected anxiety. While you will not specifically obtain a rating for anxiety, you will be given a rating for all of your service-connected mental conditions. Your VA rating for anxiety will be under the VA’s General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders.

Read more about anxiety and the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders here:

The General VA Rating Formula For Mental Disorders

 

 

How many times can you appeal a VA disability claim?

If you file a VA disability application and are denied or given a low rating, you have one year to appeal that decision. If you wait longer than a year, you can file a new application. If that application is also denied, you can appeal. There is no limit to how many times you can appeal different applications. You should submit new evidence with each claim. The best way to win an appeal is to do it right the first time. The VA disability appeals process can take years. You don’t want to go through the appeal process more than once.

Learn more about appealing VA disability claims here:

What Are My Chances of Winning a VA Disability Appeal?

 

 

 

How do I appeal a VA disability denial?

  1. First, you want to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA.
  2. Your NOD is the way you let the VA know you intend to file a formal appeal at a later date.
  3. The NOD must be filed with one year of your decision. This date can be found on your Rating Decision letter.
  4. You do not have to include specifics about your appeal’s legal strategy on your NOD.
  5. If you waited longer than one year to file your NOD, you can file a new claim.

 

Learn more about filing a NOD here:

What is a Notice of Disagreement?

 

Are VA benefits based on income?

There are two types of VA benefits for veterans: (1) pension and (2) compensation. VA benefits for pension will consider a veteran’s income if the veteran is disabled from non-service-connected conditions. VA benefits for compensation will not consider a veteran’s income limit. Compensation benefits are for service-connected disabilities. There is only one type of compensation claim that does consider a veteran’s income limits and those are Individual Unemployability benefits claims.

Read more about Individual Unemployability income limits here:

VA Unemployability Requirements and Income Limits

 

Can you lose VA disability benefits?

  • Incarceration: If a veteran is receiving VA disability benefits and is incarcerated, that veteran can lose their VA benefits or have them reduced.
  • Conditions Improve: If your service-connected conditions improve, the VA may take away your rating or reduce your rating. If this happens, you can appeal the VA’s decision.
  • VA Mistake: Too often when the VA takes away a veteran’s benefits, it is because of a VA mistake. Veterans that have their rating taken away or reduced can appeal the VA’s decision.

To learn more about appealing a VA decision that took away benefits, click here:

10 Things You Must Know For Your VA Disability Rating Appeal

 

What are the most common VA disability claims?

According to the VA’s 2019 fiscal year report, here are the most common service-connected disabilities:

  1. Tinnitus: 157,152
  2. Limitation of flexion, knee: 99,467
  3. Hearing loss: 76,102
  4. Lumbosacral or cervical strain: 71,197
  5. Limitation of motion of the arm: 67,375
  6. Scars, general: 55,215
  7. Limitation of motion of the ankle: 51,158
  8. Post-traumatic stress disorder: 46,931
  9. Migraine: 41,251
  10. Paralysis of the sciatic nerve: 38,730

See all the different types of VA claims here and research your condition:

VA Disability Benefits Claim Types

 

What do I do if my VA claim is denied?

The first thing every veteran that is denied VA disability benefits should do is consult a lawyer. There is no cost for legal consultations. An attorney can help you decide what is the best course of action for your claim. Sometimes a lawyer may tell you not to appeal your VA claim after it is denied if they believe your rating is correct. Even if you don’t plan on hiring a lawyer to fight your VA claim denial, you should still talk to one. It is important to get legal assistance and tips for your claim. Remember, VA claim lawyers do not charge for VA denial evaluations.

 

Learn more about hiring an attorney to appeal your VA claim here:

VA Benefits Appeals Lawyers

 

Can Va Unemployability be taken away?

VA Unemployability may be taken away if:

  1. The veteran’s service-connected conditions improve.
  2. The veteran returns to work and earns more than the poverty level.
  3. The veteran is incarcerated.
  4. The VA makes a mistake and reduces a veteran’s rating.

Learn more about VA Individual Unemployability benefits here:

Total Disability Individual Unemployability Benefits

 

Is Va Unemployability taxable?

No. VA Unemployability benefits are not considered taxable income. Veterans will not be required to pay taxes on VA Unemployability benefits. If you earn other income while receiving VA Unemployability, that extra income will be taxable. VA Unemployability does not exempt veterans from all taxes. Remember, if you work too much, the VA might take away your Individual Unemployability benefits.

Read more about VA Individual Unemployability benefits here:

Total Disability Individual Unemployability Benefits

 

Will I lose my VA disability if I get a job?

If you are receiving VA compensation for a schedular rating, employment will not affect your VA disability benefits. However, if you are receiving VA pension or Individual Unemployability benefits, employment may affect your eligibility. We highly suggest you discuss going back to work with an attorney before you accept a job and change your eligibility status for VA benefits. Remember, there is no cost for legal consultations.

Learn more about Individual Unemployability income limits here:

VA Unemployability Requirements and Income Limits

 

What are the benefits of Individual Unemployability?

Many veterans are unable to work from their service-connected conditions, but cannot reach a 100% VA disability rating. Individual Unemployability benefits allow veterans with lower ratings to be paid the same as a veteran with a 100% VA rating. Individual Unemployability benefits were designed as a safety net for veterans who can’t work from service-connected conditions. For example, suppose a veteran cannot obtain a rating higher than 70% but their conditions prevent them from working. That veteran might be eligible to be paid at the 100% rate because of Individual Unemployability benefits.

Learn more about Individual Unemployability benefits here:

The Ultimate Guide to VA Individual Unemployability: TDIU

 

How do you qualify for TDIU?

  • You must be a veteran
  • You must have service-connected disabilities
  • You must not have been discharged dishonorably
  • You must have at least one service-connected disability rated at least at 60%, OR two or more service-connected disabilities with at least one disability ratable at 40 percent or more with a combined rating of 70 percent or more.
  • You must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment as a result of service-connected disabilities (marginal employment, such as odd jobs, is not considered substantial gainful employment for VA purposes).

Read more about TDIU benefits here:

The Ultimate Guide to VA Individual Unemployability: TDIU

 

What are the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome?

Fatigue.
Unexplained rashes or other dermatological signs or symptoms.
Headache.
Muscle pain.
Joint pain.
Neurological signs and symptoms.
Neuropsychological signs or symptoms.
Signs or symptoms involving the upper or lower respiratory system.
Sleep disturbances.
Gastrointestinal signs or symptoms.
Cardiovascular signs or symptoms.
Abnormal weight loss.
Menstrual disorders.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Fibromyalgia just to name a few.

Read More about Gulf War Illness here:

How to Get VA Disability When You Have Gulf War Illness