The Veterans Affairs (VA) disability process is a strict, intricate system designed to deliver monetary compensation and advanced medical assistance to veterans in need. Unfortunately, these systems can be complex to the point of needing professional training for fast approval. To get through the system faster and to get relief from struggling at an able-bodied job while less-than-able, take a look at a few traits of the VA system.
What Does Service-Connected Mean?
VA disability compensation is only for veterans with injuries and other conditions related to military service. Were you injured before joining the military? You're not eligible. Were you injured after leaving the military? You're most likely not eligible, unless the military was still somehow involved.
Service-connection means that the condition(s) being claimed were caused during military service, or that pre-existing conditions were made worse because of military service. It doesn't matter if the cause was related to your specific job, a collateral job, combat, having fun on liberty, going home on leave or even doing something you really shouldn't have been doing. If you were affected by a condition during your military service, it's service-connection.
The hard part is proving a service-connected. You're certainly fully aware of your accident on the job or never healing fully after being shot, but there needs to be official documentation. Official documentation is often in the form of a medical record entry, although civilian hospital statement can work as well as long as an actual, licensed medical professional can verify the information.
Other official documentation can support your claim as well. Especially in the case of combat roles in non-urban areas or service members at remote locations, there isn't a scribe writing about every injury you have or your mental condition. By the time you make it to a large base, the most harsh evidence may have healed up or could have been made a bit more stable. Service record information showing your involvement in specific incidents can help as well.
Paired with service-connection, you'll need a current medical/psychological review showing that you still have the problem. It doesn't have to be as potent a problem as it was originally; injuries, diseases and mental conditions can relapse, and even a slight limp can become a major problem when you're working for a living.
When Is An Attorney Necessary
Your evidence may not be good enough. You may have pain from falling down stairs, being shot or simply from having a really rough military career. Unfortunately, if your wounds have healed to the point of not being visible during examinations, it's nearly impossible to prove your pain.
Mental conditions are tricky as well. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is taken seriously now as of 2015, but the problem wasn't originally accepted as a disability and many veterans of the ongoing OEF/OIF/OND conflict in the Middle East still complain of a lack of concern for their condition. Even if you're taken seriously, proving that you're actually suffering can be a long and arduous task that only exacerbates the problem.
If you've been denied once, it's time to advise an attorney. People with physical injuries may feel that they could add just a bit more information if they're told exactly what they need to do via the denial details, but if you're dealing with an issue that is quickly sapping your ability to earn a living or your mental health, don't wait for too long.
Contact a personal injury attorney to get an expert's hand in tracking down the information you need and developing new evidence that can reach an approved disability rating faster.