VA Compensation & Disability Pay

The Department of Veterans Affairs does not award compensation automatically, a review of the veteran’s health, medical records, medical history with the claimed condition, and related factors will all play a part in that review.

The veteran is responsible for scheduling a claims appointment. This can be done as part of final out processing, but may also be accomplished within a specified time frame after leaving military service.

Those applying for VA compensation benefits may also be eligible to sign up for VA healthcare benefits and a Veteran’s Health Identification Card. VA compensation for service connected medical issues is not necessarily tied with VA healthcare benefits, but if you have a VA rated disability you should definitely explore the options open to you under the VA health system.

What To Do When Applying For VA Compensation For Service-Connected Conditions

It is best to apply for VA compensation before your final out-processing appointment, but this is not always possible. In any case, service members will need to supply copies (not originals) of discharge paperwork such as the DD Form 214 for active duty military members, medical records, supporting documentation for the medical claim, and a completed VA Form 21-526.

Depending on the type of claim you are making, it may be necessary to get supporting evidence that shows how your condition affects your ability to work, socialize, pursue hobbies, etc. This may come in the form of medical records, but also personal statements from yourself, family, co-workers, etc.

You may also need to show how your condition has worsened over time. All medical records pertinent to the condition, and even those that are not, should be submitted as evidence.

Keep in mind that your family status may play a role in how the VA approaches your compensation claim. If you are awarded a VA disability rating of 30% or higher, changes in your family status may result in changes to your payments.

Never pass up the opportunity to get additional consideration for your condition, especially if you are entitled to more from the VA as a result of having a family.

You will be required to notify the Department of Veterans Affairs in such cases; changes to your claim or payments of the claim in these circumstances are never automatic.

Service Connected Disability Explained

The Department of Veterans Affairs official site describes VA Disability Compensation as a benefit paid to qualifying veterans “disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service.”

VA rules also allow for compensation “for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service” even in cases where such issues are not discovered until after the veteran has retired or separated from the military.

Depending on the nature and severity of the conditions evaluated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, you may be entitled to a monthly payment based on the VA disability percentage rating assigned to your condition.

Some medical conditions can only warrant a 10% rating (such as tinnitus or other hearing-related issues), while others may be rated as much as 50% or higher depending on the condition. Servicemembers with dependents may receive additional consideration for higher VA disability payments.

Getting Help With Filing And Tracking VA Claims

You do not have to apply for VA medical benefits or compensation alone; there are many agencies known as Veterans Service Organizations or VSOs that are authorized to act on your behalf to file with the government. This may be especially important for those who have fears that their medical claims may be denied, or for those who have been denied and want to file an appeal.

Who are these VSOs? There are too many to list comprehensively but the most highly visible include AMVETS, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), DAV, and others. Help may also be available from your state government; check the state department of veterans affairs (not the same as the federal-level Department of Veterans Affairs) to see what services may be offered to veterans who need VA claims assistance.

The VA official site has a list of accredited Veteran Service Organizations you can use to find help filing your VA claim or appealing a VA decision to deny your claim.

VA Disability Ratings: Subject To Review And Not Always Permanent

The Department of Veterans Affairs reserves the right to change VA disability rating schedules, screening requirements, and even revisit the VA award itself to see if the condition has improved or gotten worse over time.

In some cases you may get a letter from the VA instructing you to participate in a re-examination of your claim; in others the veteran herself may wish to have the claim reviewed. This is especially true in cases where the veteran feels the condition is not improving or getting worse.

Do not skip the re-examination process. Doing so may subject you to a more arbitrary decision from the VA.

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