When you’ve made great sacrifices for your country, you expect your country to repay in kind. That’s why the Veterans Affairs Department was formed: to give scholarships, loans, medical care, and disability assistance to those who served.
One of the most significant forms of support that the VA provides is disability assistance to those who were injured as a result of their military service; approximately 19.5% of the 19.9 million veterans in the United States receive some form of disability compensation, while nearly all former service members have at least partial insurance through the VA.
However, this does not guarantee that all veterans will have their disability claim approved by the VA; in fact, 70% of disability claims are initially rejected, which is why many veterans choose to work with a lawyer or a coaching firm to ensure that they receive the compensation they are entitled to. Today, we’ll explore some of the reasons why you may not be receiving your full compensation from the Veterans Affairs Department or may have your claim denied entirely.
Inadequate Medical Evidence
In order to receive disability compensation from the VA, you need a medical diagnosis that confirms your disability is directly related to your military service. For example, if you suffered partial paralysis due to an IED explosion, and this was documented and treated directly after the incident, you are very likely to have your claim approved. In contrast, if you suffered a slipped disc and did not have it diagnosed until after you left the service, the VA may argue that this could have been due to something else.
When you make a disability claim, you often need a nexus statement, which is a medical opinion by a licensed professional that asserts your injury was caused by or directly related to your military career. This is especially important for claims that are not so cut and dry, such as a PTSD diagnosis. If you don’t get this nexus statement, you may find your claim denied.
Unlike the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the VA can deny you disability benefits for a pre-existing condition that was only diagnosed during or after service. For example, a congenital heart defect that later resulted in heart disease, or a mental health condition that was only exacerbated by military service, would likely result in a denied claim.
This is part of the reason why mental health claims are harder to prove under the VA, even if there is clear evidence that it is directly related to experiences during a veteran’s military service; it’s easy to assert that the person had a predisposition to mental illness, even if there was no previous mental health intervention. Sadly enough, 46% of claims related to PTSD caused by military sexual assault were denied upon first application, despite clear evidence that it was due to traumatic experiences while serving.
Non-Combat Related Accidents
Anything that is directly caused by military service will not result in disability compensation by the VA; you would need to seek justice elsewhere, such as through a personal injury firm. For example, if you were in a car accident off base with a civilian driver, this would not be considered related to your military service.
This can get tricky if you don’t make a disability claim during or directly after your service, because it could be claimed that a non-combat incident resulted in your injury. Even something as simple as playing contact sports with friends and then making a disability claim, may allow the VA to claim that your activities outside of service were the cause of your disability.
What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
It’s important to remember that many claims, even those with clear legitimacy, are denied the first time; this may be due to missed deadlines, clerical errors, or lack of sufficient evidence. If your claim is initially denied, it’s time to work with a VA disability claims coach, who can guide you through the entire process and ensure that you have the best chances of success.
These agencies are often led by veterans who are intimately familiar with the process and can guide you past common missteps, such as failing to append a nexus statement or having contradictory opinions from medical personnel. They’ll provide you with comprehensive education so you can predict any issues you may have and understand what the next steps are if you’re denied.
Working with a VA disability coaching team can be of great help, but if your claim is still denied, you may find it helpful to work with a disability lawyer; they will be able to navigate the appeal process and help you present the information according to VA standards.
Having a VA claim denied can be disheartening, especially if you find your medical bills piling up and don’t know where to turn. However, know that there are plenty of resources available to assist you in getting the compensation you deserve.