Disability benefits provide income support when servicemembers can no longer work because of an injury sustained in the line of duty. Unfortunately, many veterans make simple errors that can delay benefits or cause them to lose out on benefits altogether. By avoiding these mistakes, you’ll strengthen your chances of being approved.
Mistake #1: Delaying the Filing of Your Claim
Some veterans delay because they don’t understand whether they qualify for benefits. Others think they are too young and decide that they will wait until they are older. However, there is really no reason to delay. For example, if you are young, your condition might worsen as you age, which means you will qualify for additional benefits at that point in the future.
Mistake #2: Not Linking the Disability to Your Service
To qualify for benefits, your disability must be service related. However, many applicants do not submit sufficient information of this connection. Instead, they simply rely on their own memories, which are usually insufficient for the VA. To bolster your case, you need a medical opinion that connects your current disability to an injury suffered while in the line of duty.
Mistake #3: Inadequately Documenting Your Symptoms
In truth, the VA doesn’t typically believe what servicemembers say about their injuries. So you will need supporting documentation that your symptoms are serious. For example, you should get statements from family members and friends who can testify as to how your injuries affect you. These statements should be as detailed as possible.
Mistake #4: Not Pursuing Mental Health Disability
The VA has tried to increase the visibility of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has even relaxed the evidence requirements when claiming PTSD as an injury. However, veterans can also suffer many other mental health problems, including:
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disorders
If these are connected to your service, then they can qualify as disabilities depending on how much they impair you.
Mistake #5: Exaggerating Your Disability
Perhaps fearing a denial, some applicants exaggerate their symptoms and injuries. As a result, the VA might dismiss the entire claim as unbelievable. Remember to keep all of your submissions as factual as possible and find supporting documentation that backs everything up.
Mistake #6: Refusing to Hire a Lawyer after a Denial
Applicants have important rights to an appeal, but the appeals process is usually complicated and fraught with difficulties. An experienced veteran benefits attorney can help you file everything in a timely manner with sufficient supporting documentation. If you try to go it alone, then your chances of being denied benefits a second time are much higher than if you have legal help.
Speak with a VA Benefits Attorney in Chicago
VA disability benefits help veterans take care of themselves and their families when they suffer an injury in the line of fire. If you have a question about benefits, or if you have already been denied and are planning to bring an appeal, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer today. As a member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates, the Comerford Law Office is available for a free consultation. Please contact us today.