“Here’s the truth: The VA doesn’t make it easy for veterans to get a VA disability rating.
“Hi, I’m Neil Woods, the president of Woods and Woods. Today, we’re going to talk about the benefits of hiring a VA disability attorney for your appeal.”
How hard is it to file a claim yourself?
“There’s really two ways to look at this. One way is by looking at simple claims and really complex claims. If you have a really simple claim like a tinnitus claim, or something that is just a one issue application, you’re probably going to be OK doing it on your own or going to a veteran service officer (VSO).
“If you have a much more complex claim where you have multiple ratings, you have multiple disabilities, you have conditions that have worsened over the years that already have a rating, or you’re applying for TDIU benefits — that is really where I recommend that you reach out to a law firm.
“One of the reasons we have been so successful over the years is we know the VA rules. We know the regulations and the legal exceptions, and we understand the VA process.
“A few years ago, the VA was operating under what we call the legacy process, and now they’re operating under what is called AMA. AMA is a lot more complex. Veterans might have filed at one time, and they may have conditions and different claims going in different tracks at one time. They may be receiving rating decisions from all these different tracks. It has become way more complicated for veterans than it used to be.”
What you need to understand before you file
“One of the big things we see veterans do is they file the wrong forms, or they put the wrong things on the forms that they file. So, what filing the wrong forms, or filing the wrong items on the forms can do, is it can really delay when you start to receive benefits from the VA. It could also force you to file a VA disability appeal, which could take many years.
“I have a lot of clients when they first come to me, they’re like, ‘Look, I have two 50% ratings. I should be getting a 100% VA disability.’ You have to kind of talk to them about the VA disability ratings and how it actually works. You can’t just add them up like that. If you have questions about that, we have videos and blog posts to explain how VA ratings and VA math works.
“The other thing you should do is visit our VA disability calculator on our website, because you can really play around with your ratings and what you are expecting to get from the VA, and then you can kind of see what you think your combined rating is going to be. It can also help you decide what ratings you should be aiming for. For example, for one of your ratings, if the difference between 20% and 30% is going to really affect your combined rating, then you need to maybe put some extra work into that and look at what the VA rules and regulations are for that particular rating.
“I’m going to give you kind of a 30,000 foot view here. Let’s say you’re a veteran who served in Vietnam, and you’re presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Then, if you later develop diabetes, it is presumed that it came from your Agent Orange exposure. That’s actually not the hard part. The hard part is that all the conditions that are caused by your diabetes are now also considered service connected. Those are what we call secondary service-connected benefits.
“The reason that that’s important is because when you’re filing these applications, you need to talk to the person who’s helping you and explain to them all of your medical conditions, not just the ones that you think are service connected. We have a lot of veterans come to our firm and they tell us about two or three different conditions they have, and then once we get them to open up a little bit, they’re like, ‘Oh, I also have these other five medical issues going on.’ Those conditions may be secondary to your service-connected conditions, and therefore compensable under the law. If you don’t fully understand that concept, we have blog posts on our website where you can go read more about secondary service-connected conditions.”
What does Woods and Woods do to win cases?
“We spend a lot of time on evidence. Evidence is how you win cases. It’s not just in VA disability, this is in criminal cases, this is in personal injury cases — any case out there wants evidence, and the VA is no different.
“So, one of the ways that we really help veterans win their cases is that we use a lot of different specialists. Here’s how that works: A veteran will come to us and we will request all of their medical records from the VA. We will request all of their medical records from the Social Security Administration if they filed, and not just that, we will reach out to all of their medical providers that we need and we will request their medical records as well.
“Once my team goes through all those medical records, a lot of times what we need are nexus letters. So, let’s say that you’re a veteran and you have cancer. We will reach out to our team of oncologists, and we will have them write nexus letters. If it’s a mental health condition, we reach out to our psychologist. We have all these teams of people to help write these nexus letters.
“The great thing about the doctors and medical professionals that we have working on these letters is they are also trained in VA law, where most doctors are not. Most doctors don’t understand anything about VA law, so they don’t understand how to connect all of these conditions and relate it back to the time in service.
“Once we get all the information in, we always create what we call a case plan. They’re unique to every veteran, and that’s once we get in all your evidence. It really gives us this road map of how you’re going to win your claim.”
You may receive more back pay
“Another reason that I really suggest reaching out to a law firm is back pay. I’ve seen clients that missed out on 10 years of back pay because they simply went to somebody who didn’t understand how to preserve effective dates. When my team goes through all of the medical records in every one of your rating decisions that you have ever received, we look at it and we almost always determine that the effective date can go back further than what the VA said. That can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.”
What about VSOs?
“One of the things that almost every one of my clients have in common is that before they gave my law firm a call, they went to a VSO, and they used these VSOs for years, and they were in this never-ending cycle of filing claims and having their claims denied. I can’t tell you how many times I have new clients come to me and we look at their old claims and I see what their veteran service officers did. Their veteran service officers did not preserve their old effective dates. If you’re going to a VSO and they are not spending time looking at your effective dates, you’re going to be out a lot of money.
“If you were injured while serving this country and are reading this review, I encourage you to contact Woods and Woods right away. They are always standing ready to assist veterans in need.”
J.B., a Navy veteran in VirginiaGoogle review
What kind of cases does Woods and Woods take?
“Our big focus here is for veterans that can no longer work. The type of cases we’re taking are total disability individual unemployability. Those are cases for veterans that can no longer work from their service-connected disabilities. TDIU benefits pay the same as a 100% VA disability rating, but veterans are not required to obtain a 100% VA disability rating.
“The other types of cases that we take are what we call DIC cases. These are cases for widows of veterans. So, the veteran has to pass away from a service-connected disability, and then their spouse is eligible for DIC benefits.”
What if you don’t take my claim?
“Because we work on these narrow areas of VA disability law, we offer veterans referrals to other law firms. Here’s how that works: We have law firms all over the country, and each one of them likes to work on little specific areas of VA disability law. If we can’t help you, we will find you someone that will.”
How to get help from Woods and Woods
“It’s great that these benefits exist for veterans, but it’s unfortunate how complicated the process has become for veterans to obtain the benefits that they deserve because they served our country. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t be doing this job. Veterans wouldn’t be needing lawyers to obtain the benefits that they deserve, but unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. I really do feel that hiring an attorney to win your VA disability appeal is not only helpful anymore but feel that it’s almost necessary.”
VA disability lawyer
Woods and Woods
VA Accreditation Number: 44739