How to Service Connect Head Injury Claims
As you probably already know, if the VA considers your head injury to be service-connected, you will receive a rating of 0-100%. The VA is going to consider the medical evidence you provide to determine how severe your head injury is today and determine what rating you deserve.
If you have the below factors, you should tell the VA through evidence how severe your current impairments are and how they affect your life. Later in this article, we’ll cover the evidence you can use to prove these factors. If you want to have your service connection head injury claims approved, you should attack each factor individually with evidence. TBI VA disability ratings are methodical and the VA will only consider certain factors when reviewing your service connection head injury claims.
Here are the factors the VA is going to consider for service connection head injury claims:
- Bladder and Bowel Problems
- Cognitive Problems
- Hearing Problems
- Memory Impairment
- Neurobehavioral Problems
- Vision Problems
VA Disability Attorney Zack Evans explains TBI and the link to PTSD in this video:
Conditions Presumed to be Service Connected to TBI
If you suffered a head injury during your active duty military service, the below conditions should automatically be granted for compensation. These conditions are presumed to be from a TBI. Unfortunately, many veterans filing service connection head injury claims will have their VA disability denied regardless of this favorable law.
The VA makes lots of mistakes and you shouldn’t let a denial discourage you from trying to obtain your TBI VA disability ratings. There is a section later dedicated to appeals and denials in this article. Here are the conditions that are presumed to be service-connected if you had a head injury during your time in the service:
- Disease of Hormone Deficiency
- Parkinsons Disease
- Unprovoked Seizures
Other Secondary Service-Connected Conditions to TBI
When veterans file their service connection head injury claims, they should also list their secondary service connected conditions. Below are some of the most common disorders veterans claim as secondary to their service connection head injury claims. However, remember that not every veteran is going to be able to service connect their secondary conditions. Each case is going to be fact dependent and based upon facts from your time in and after active duty military service.
A traumatic brain injury can leave veterans with severe anxiety. Veterans with anxiety are eligible to receive VA disability benefits if they can link their anxiety to their active duty military service.
- Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be genetic and still be service connected. Veterans filing service connection head injury claims can secondarily connect their bipolar disorder. A head injury can cause a host of conditions later in life, including bipolar disorder.
- Major Depressive Disorder
Veterans filing service connection head injury claims may also be able to link their injuries to major depressive disorder. Side effects, like major depressive disorder, may not manifest themselves in veterans for years after a head injury.
- Panic Disorder
Veterans that suffered a head injury in military service often later develop panic disorder, agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Head injuries may cause many different forms of panic disorders in veterans.
Veterans with service connection head injury claims regularly also have PTSD. Many veterans will find that their PTSD and their head injury are from the same event.
- Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition that includes symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, bipolar disorder, or depression. Veterans filing service connection head injury claims are often able to secondarily service connect their schizoaffective disorder.
Head injuries and schizophrenia are often interconnected. Many veterans unknowingly genetically have schizophrenia. A head injury may exacerbate this genetic condition or even be the cause.
- Sleep Disorder
Many veterans filing service connection head injury claims have severe sleep disorders. Head injuries and sleep disorders are often related to the same event. Other veterans with head injuries develop sleep problems later in life.
TBI VA Disability Ratings Explained
The VA has a host of different ratings they can give veterans who file service connection head injury claims. The VA can find your TBI not service connected, give you a rating of 0%, offer compensation at 10-100%, determine you are permanent and total, or give you an Individual Unemployability rating. Here are the VA’s options if your TBI is determined to be service connected:
- 0% Rating
Believe it or not, TBI VA disability ratings do include a 0% rating. Veterans that obtain a 0% rating do have a service-connected head injury, but the VA finds that it is not severe enough for compensation. Obviously, a 0% rating is appealable and many veterans do go on to obtain higher TBI VA disability ratings.
- 10-100% Rating
Veterans that receive 10-100% TBI VA disability ratings will start receiving compensation. Veterans that obtain 100% TBI VA disability ratings are currently maxing out around $3,400 a month if they have dependent children and parents.
- Individual Unemployability Rating
Veterans that already have TBI VA disability ratings, who cannot work may be eligible to receive Individual Unemployability benefits. Veterans that cannot obtain a 100% rating, may want to look into Individual Unemployability benefits. These benefits pay the same as a 100% rating. There is an entire section later dedicated to TBI VA disability ratings and Individual Unemployability benefits.
- Permanent and Total Rating
If your TBI VA disability ratings are considered permanent and total, it means the VA does not expect your conditions to improve. The VA does not just hand out permanent and total TBI VA disability ratings left and right, veterans often have to appeal to achieve this distinction.
Learn More: Calculate your rating with our VA Disability Benefits Rating Calculator
Applications & Evidence for Service Connection Head Injury Claims
We can’t stress how important evidence is for service connection head injury claims. One of the reasons our VA disability compensation lawyers are so successful is because we provide the VA with indisputable evidence. Here are some of the strongest pieces of evidence you can submit with service connection head injury claims:
- Reports From Neurologists
If you are trying to prove that you have lasting cognitive issues from a head injury, medical reports from a neurologist are great evidence. Our VA disability lawyers often hire neurologists to write reports for our appeals. They will examine your evidence, often interview you by phone, and write a report detailing the severity of your head injury and how it affects your life.
- Psychological Reports
Veterans that are filing service connection head injury claims are often filing for mental conditions as well. Our veterans disability benefits lawyers regularly use psychological reports to prove service connected disabilities are compensable. These reports will provide evidence of your mental condition and its severity.
- Medical Reports
Veterans can use medical reports from doctors outside the VA in an attempt to increase their TBI VA disability ratings. Many veterans are unaware that they can use reports from doctors outside the VA. There is a general misconception that evidence outside the VA system can’t be used, but it can. When fighting denials, our VA benefits appeal lawyers almost always use medical reports from doctors trained in VA law. There aren’t many of them out there, but we have a national network of medical professionals who have studied VA law.
- Buddy Statements
If your service records are missing, were lost, or a report was never made of an event like an enemy ambush or a rape, many veterans use buddy statements. This is one trick our VA certified disability attorneys use a lot. You can have veterans you served with write statements about traumatic events that happened decades ago to prove it happened. Many traumatic events go unrecorded or never make it to a veteran’s C-File.
- Lay Statements
If you are trying to obtain TBI VA disability ratings for head injuries that happened during active duty military service, lay statements can help prove your TBI is service-connected. Friends and family members who knew you well before and after your military service can write before and after statements. Essentially, these statements need to show how the veteran was different after military service. You can use this documentation to prove how you are affected by a head injury and therefore, get it service-connected.
Appeals & TBI VA Disability Ratings Denials
Are your TBI VA disability ratings too low? Were your service connection head injury claims denied? You have the option to file an appeal. Veterans have one year from the date of their Rating Decision to file an appeal. The VA disability appeal timeline can look daunting and many veterans choose not to fight for what is theirs. Just know this, lots of veterans are forced to appeal and many of them win their appeals.
Your chances of winning a VA disability appeal depend solely upon your evidence and your conditions. The VA disability appeal success rate isn’t as white and black as you would believe. We have seen claims denied for many, many strange reasons. The most common reason for a denial we see at our firm is that a free veterans service botched the rules of evidence, rules of law, and didn’t provide any kind of logical argument. You wouldn’t believe how many claims we have examined from free veterans services that would have been malpractice had the VSO been an attorney. For example, only 27.26% of the appeals the DAV files end up being approved before going to the remand stage.
We can’t stress how important obtaining a competent, skilled, and knowledgeable attorney can be for your appeal. This is especially true for complicated claims with lots of conditions or TDIU benefits. The free veterans services may be fine for a simple appeal of tinnitus or single-issue claim. We believe the problem with free VSOs is that many of them tell you they do the exact same thing as a lawyer. What they don’t tell you is that they may not have resources to hire doctors to obtain medical reports. They may not have the resources to write detailed briefs, research legal precedent, develop a case plan and strategy, etc. – you get the drift. VA disability appeals are complicated, especially if the claim involves a decades-old brain injury. There are so many more steps to a VA disability appeal than just filling out some forms like many VSOs will have you believe.
TBI VA Disability Ratings & Individual Unemployability
Veterans that cannot work from service connected injuries may be eligible to receive Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits. Many veterans’ service connection head injury claims will not produce a 100% rating because of the Combined Ratings Table. However, many veterans with a TBI are unable to work. TDIU benefits are the solution to this dilemma for veterans left in a grey area with less than a 100% rating. TDIU benefits pay the same as a 100% rating, but the veteran does not have to obtain a 100% rating. We have compiled further articles below if you wish to learn more about TDIU claims. Here are some helpful links on Individual Unemployability claims:
- VA Unemployability Requirements and Income Limits
- Individual Unemployability Fact Sheet
- Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) Timeline
- TDIU Benefits and SSDI Claims
- VA TDIU Ratings for PTSD
- Individual Unemployability and Social Security Disability
- TDIU Benefits Denials
Get Help From a TBI VA Disability Lawyer
Since 1985, Woods & Woods has fought for injured and disabled clients. Our nationwide veterans disability benefits law firm has successfully fought for thousands of vets. When you hire Woods & Woods, we take over your claim and use our resources to fight for you. We have teams of doctors, lawyers, psychologists, case managers, case analysts, support staff, and vocational experts who work together to get you the evidence and legal help you need.
Woods & Woods is a nationally recognized leader in VA disability claims. We teach at national seminars and have even taught other law firms how to help veterans. Law firms from around the country come to Woods & Woods’ headquarters regularly to learn how we help veterans.
- Free Consultation: Woods & Woods veterans benefits lawyers offer free legal consultations to any veteran or their family member. We can discuss your service connection head injury claims at no cost to you. We’ll answer any questions you have about TBI VA disability ratings.
- Free Assistance With Your Application: Woods & Woods veterans disability lawyers never charge for help with your application. If you obtain your TBI VA disability ratings on your initial application, congrats, there is no fee! Many veterans win their service connection head injury claims on their first try and never have to pay us a penny.
- You Only Pay If We Win Your Appeal: If you are unhappy with your TBI VA disability ratings or are denied VA disability benefits, you have the option to hire us for your appeal. Our fee is 20% of back pay and case expenses if your appeal is successful. If our VA disability attorneys do not win your appeal, you don’t have to pay us anything. We will never ask for money upfront, phone calls are always free, and we never bill by the hour.