Veterans that have tons of money and years to wait on their VA disability decision might not look for help from a VA attorney, so here’s a tongue-in-cheek look at how to slow down your claim even more.
If you’re a veteran living with a medical or psychological condition, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. But if you know anything about the VA disability claim process, you’ll know it can be long and convoluted. It’s easy to make some common mistakes that will drag your application process out.
There are a few things you should never do if you want a quick, simple disability application process. Read on to learn more about some of these pitfalls that will drag your VA application out for years.
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Our List of Things You Shouldn’t Do Or You’ll Slow Down Your VA Claim
- 1. Put Off Going to the Doctor
- 2. Hide Your Symptoms
- 3. Delay Getting Your Military Records
- 4. Don’t Ask for Help Finding Your Records
- 5. Skip Your C&P Exam
- 6. Skip the eBenefits Account
- 7. Don’t Submit All the Evidence
- 8. Avoid Getting Buddy Statements
- 9. Don’t Update Your Contact Information
- 10. Throw Away Your VA Correspondence
- 11. Don’t Keep Your Own Records
- 12. Delay Filing Appeals
- 13. Skip Filing Appeals Altogether
- 14. Don’t Keep Track of Deadlines
- 15. Try to Navigate the Process on Your Own
- Follow the Right Path for Your VA Disability Claim
1. Put Off Going to the Doctor
One of the best ways to slow down your disability claim process is to put off going to the doctor. Many of us tend to avoid visiting the doctor, especially if it seems like our symptoms are mild. But when it comes to VA disability claims, the sooner you can get a diagnosis, the faster and easier your claims process will be.
You may only have a certain period of time after your symptoms appear to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Start with your family doctor or primary care physician. Even if they can’t provide the diagnosis you need, they can refer you to a specialist who can.
2. Hide Your Symptoms
When you go to your doctor’s appointment, the last thing you want to do is hide any symptoms you’re having. Some symptoms may be embarrassing, and others may not seem like a big enough deal to be worth mentioning. But hiding your symptoms makes it harder for your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Be absolutely honest with your doctor about any symptoms you’ve been experiencing, no matter how gross or embarrassing they may seem. Don’t forget to include mental symptoms, too – trouble sleeping, mood swings, loss of motivation, and a general feeling of numbness can all indicate a diagnosable problem. Also, be sure to include symptoms that may seem irrelevant; you never know what clue could make the difference for your diagnosis.
3. Delay Getting Your Military Records
Before you go to your doctor’s appointment, you should make sure to get your hands on your military records. Once you get an official diagnosis, you’ll need to get your doctor to give you a medical nexus connecting your condition with your military service. This means that, in their opinion, your condition was at least as likely as not caused by your military service.
Putting off getting your military records is a great way to slow down your application process. You’ll need to go to your diagnosing appointment, find your records, and then go back to your doctor to get your medical nexus. If you have your military records with you on the day of your diagnosing appointment, you can knock it out all in one day.
4. Don’t Ask for Help Finding Your Records
Finding your military records can be a challenge, and the best way to drag this process out is to try to do it on your own. You may need your service record, your military medical record, and other documentation. Trying to pull all this together on your own can be confusing, and you may not know where to begin.
The VA is required by law to help you get access to any documentation you need. Go to your local VA office and let them know that you’re applying for VA disability compensation and what forms you need. They can help you get access to the right documents, and with their experience navigating the system, this process will move much quicker.
We help you with our experienced team and process. We go through many questions on your call, but that all helps us get a good idea of the best claim we can make for you. We find out about secondary-connected disabilities as well as any hang-ups that happened in previous applications. We have staff that deal with the VA records every single day, so we know how and when to track down the right records.
5. Skip Your C&P Exam
In addition to your diagnosing doctor’s appointment, the VA may also require you to attend a Compensation and Pension exam. This gives them a second opinion on what your condition is and how seriously it impacts your life. These exams are conducted by VA-approved doctors and are a standard part of most disability applications.
C&P exams may seem like a pain, but skipping them will only drag out your application process longer. If at all possible, try to attend the first C&P exam the VA schedules for you. If you absolutely have to, you can reschedule it, but this will mean more delays.
Here are some tips on your C&P exam from one of our VA disability lawyers.
6. Skip the eBenefits Account
When you start the VA disability application process, one of the first things you’ll want to do is sign up for an eBenefits account. This online account will give you access to most of your military records, for one thing. It also gives you a way to keep tabs on your disability benefits application, as well as submitting your application in the first place.
Even if you don’t have access to a computer or the internet at home, you can always call us, visit your local public library, or VA office. Your local VA office may also be able to help you navigate the process of signing up for your eBenefits account. You’ll need to verify your identity using your Common Access Card, and you’ll need to be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. We help you with all of this for free when you call us.
7. Don’t Submit All the Evidence
Once you get your diagnosis, your military records, your medical nexus, and your eBenefits account, it will be time to submit your VA claim. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of evidence you have to submit during this process. But don’t give in to the urge to call it, “good enough” and hope you’ve included enough to convince the VA.
You need to be sure you submit every piece of evidence you have to the VA the first time you send in your application. You never know which bit of evidence could tip the scales and get your claim approved instead of being denied. And the more relevant evidence you submit, the more likely you are to get a fair rating the first time around, rather than a lower rating.
8. Avoid Getting Buddy Statements
One of the pieces of evidence you need to submit is buddy statements. Buddy statements are written testimony from the people who know you best, especially your colleagues who you served with in the military. These show the impact your condition has on your day-to-day life from sources other than your own personal testimony.
We know it may seem troublesome to ask your friends to write buddy statements out for you. But these statements give the VA a better sense of exactly how hard it is for you to live a normal, healthy life with your condition. Not only could they swing the VA’s decision in your favor, but they could also help you get a higher rating and more compensation.
We are happy to. help you with sample buddy statements. We can even talk to your friends (with your permission of course) to tell them how to write a good buddy statement for your claim. We can even help you write one for them so that they can have a rock-solid disability application too.
9. Don’t Update Your Contact Information
If you move, change your phone number, get married or divorced, there’s a pile of paperwork you have to deal with. You have to let the post office know you’re moving, send your number out to all your new contacts, and file your marriage license or divorce papers with your local courthouse. But the VA also needs to be on your list of agencies to update when your information changes.
The VA will send you a lot of time-sensitive information throughout the course of your claims process. If they’re sending this documentation to an old address, you may never see it, and you could miss deadlines. This slows your application process way down and may put your chances of a successful claim at risk.
When you work with us, all of the the correspondence goes to you and us throughout the process. That way if you miss something in the mail, we won’t. We cover our calendars with your deadlines, so that nothing gets missed.
10. Throw Away Your VA Correspondence
When that information from the VA does come in, you may be tempted to read it and then toss it in the trash. After all, why do you need to keep a letter around that says you won’t be getting any disability compensation? But you should keep all correspondence the VA sends your way.
Even claim denial letters from the VA contain very important information about why your claim was denied and what you can do about it. If your claim gets approved, your award letter will contain critical information about how much compensation you can expect each month. You must keep these somewhere you can find them when the need arises down the road.
Your denial letter will give us clues as to what to include in your appeal so that we can make sure you have the best appeal possible.
A behind the scenes look at who works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm
11. Don’t Keep Your Own Records
When you’re gathering up evidence to submit with your claim, you may not think past getting your packet together to submit. But once you send that information off to the VA, there’s no guaranteeing it will make it to the right spot. With such a large system in place, sometimes documents will go missing. The evidence you submit may never get to the right person.
In 1973, there was a fire in St. Louis and hundreds of veterans lost their records. We can help veterans who lost their documents in that fire. At the same time, if you have copies of everything you send the VA, like we have everything triple backed-up, you’ll be able to recall documents faster.
Make sure you keep your own records throughout your VA disability application process. Make copies of every form and piece of evidence you submit, and keep them in your personal files. If any question comes up later, you’ll have everything you need to prove that you sent in the necessary evidence.
12. Delay Filing Appeals
Getting a denied claim back from the VA can be disheartening, to say the least. It may feel like your claim is hopeless, there’s no more evidence you can submit, and you’re just out of luck. You may be tempted to shove that rejection letter in a drawer and put off filing an appeal until you can face the prospect of going through the whole process again.
As tough as it may seem, filing an appeal right away is one of the best ways to keep your VA claim moving along. The longer you put off sending in that appeal, the longer you’ll go without the compensation you deserve. And if you miss certain deadlines, you may be unable to file an appeal at all.
13. Skip Filing Appeals Altogether
You may also be tempted to skip the appeals filing process altogether, especially if you get a too-low rating. After all, you’re getting some compensation, so why not call it good enough, right? But you deserve every penny of the compensation your condition warrants, and the best way to get that is to file an appeal.
If your claim was denied or you get an unfairly low rating, take a close look at your denial or award letter. See what information the VA said they were lacking or what factored into their decision about your rating. Use that as a starting point to begin putting together additional evidence to submit as soon as possible.
Here, one of our VA disability lawyers talks about what we do when we appeal your case to the Veteran’s Administration.
14. Don’t Keep Track of Deadlines
One of the biggest hassles during the VA disability claims process is keeping track of all the deadlines. You have to submit your claim or intent to file by a certain date. You have a specific timeframe after you send in your initial claim to submit all your evidence. Your appeals process will be packed with deadlines and appointments. How do you keep everything straight while also leading a full life?
Get a datebook or planner to keep track of these deadlines, or put reminders about them in your phone. Make sure you double- and triple-check when everything is due, and aim to submit any additional forms or information early. You may also want to consider working with a lawyer who has experience navigating the confusing world of VA deadlines.
The first thing our staff sees every day is a list of upcoming deadlines. We have weekly huddles as our teams gather to prioritize various claims and clients according to incoming documents and deadlines. We’ve even shifted entire teams over to finish some claims when the VA has changed the laws in their own favor.
15. Try to Navigate the Process on Your Own
When you’re filing a VA disability claim, the number-one thing you can do to slow the process down is to try to navigate it on your own. VA disability claims are a confusing, convoluted process. If you haven’t been through it before, there are a wide variety of mistakes and pitfalls you’re likely to fall into.
It’s a good idea to work with a lawyer who specializes in veteran law and disability claims. For one thing, they can help you navigate what needs to be submitted when and to whom. We can also give you insider tips and tricks to help you have a successful application the first time around.
Follow the Right Path for Your VA Disability Claim
Filing a VA disability claim can be a long, confusing process. But there are a few things you can do that will slow the process down exponentially. Avoid these common mistakes and get help from professionals who can make navigating this process much easier and faster.
If you’d like help with your VA disability claim, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you don’t pay unless we win. Contact us today and start getting the compensation you deserve the easy way.
An audit of the VA found that 31% of claims that were rejected or denied were incorrectly processed. That means that if you get rejected, you have a good chance to win your appeal. Calling Woods and Woods will get us started working on your case faster when they send that letter back.
This is a sort of tortoise and the hare question. You can fill out a form an apply for disability this afternoon, but if you get it wrong, you won’t get your denial for 170 or so days. If you work with us, you’re more likely to have a strong, well-developed case that won’t need a second try.