Millions of American veterans suffer from service-connected disabilities. If you are one of them, you are likely to be eligible for monthly disability benefits. Nevertheless, past experience indicates that your claim is likely to be denied, at least at first. The VA denies more than 80% of Gulf War-related disability claims, for example. Veterans who retain VA disability lawyers to handle their appeals fare better than other veterans.
What Does the Department of Veterans Affairs Do?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), with over 250,000 employees, provides vital government services to our nation’s veterans, including the provision of disability benefits. VA disability lawyers who handle VA disability claims work frequently with the DVA. Although the relationship is frequently adversarial, the DVA does certify VA disability lawyers so that they can represent VA disability claimants.
What Is the Best VSO for Disability Claims?
You probably do not need a lawyer to file an initial claim for VA disability benefits. If that is what you are contemplating doing right now, then it would be a good idea for you to enlist the services of a veterans service organization (VSO) instead. VSOs are experienced in filing initial claims, and they offer their services free of charge. The Veterans Administration maintains a website that can help you find a qualified VSO in your area.
When Should I Get a Lawyer?
You are probably going to need a VA disability lawyer if your VA disability claim is denied or if it is underrated. Although some veterans handle their own claims or work with VSOs, this is generally not a good idea under these circumstances. You should give strong consideration to hiring a VA claims attorney if your claim is complex. Total disability individual unemployability (TDIU) claims tend to be complex, as do claims involving multiple issues.
The good news about hiring a lawyer is that VA disability lawyers cannot charge you legal fees unless you win your claim, regardless of whether you receive your VA disability back pay in lump sum or in periodic payments. Even then, it comes out of your award—you don’t need a dime in your pocket to hire a VA disability lawyer. Indeed, in some cases you may be awarded attorney’s fees, meaning that your legal fees will not even be deducted from your claim award.
How a VA Claims Lawyer Can Help You Win Your Claim
A VA disability lawyer can perform claim-related services that you would find difficult to perform on your own, including:
- Gathering evidence: Nothing happens in a VA claim without evidence, and the VA accepts only certain kinds of evidence. Once we review your claim, we will know exactly what evidence you need and how to obtain it.
- Filing paperwork: Filing paperwork is a pain, and a lot of paperwork is required for a VA claim. We will handle it for you, and we will get it right the first time.
- Medical experts: Medical experts can be critical to your claim. We know how to generate medical evidence from the experts we work with. Our medical experts are knowledgeable about VA law.
- Filing appeals and briefs: Any paperwork submitted to a court must be prepared in a specific format, with little room for error. We are familiar with all the requirements, and we will take care of your appeals and briefs for you.
- Researching the law: VA law is particularly dependent on court precedent, and there is a lot of it to master. We are familiar with all the nuances of veterans disability law, and we will employ our knowledge to advance your claim.
We offer numerous services, in addition to the foregoing, that only a VA disability lawyer is qualified to perform effectively.
How Long Does It Take to Get Disability with a Lawyer?
Ultimately, there is only so much a VA disability lawyer can do to expedite your claim. What your lawyer should not do, and will not do if you have selected carefully, is to try to speed up your claim during the preparatory phase by cutting corners. The best way your lawyer can speed up processing of your claim is to prepare a good claim the first time around so that there won’t be a legal mess to clean up later.
So how long does it take to get disability with a lawyer? The VA itself estimates that it takes an average of 94 days to review a VA disability claim. This is only an average, however. Some claims are resolved more quickly, while others take considerably longer. Following are some of the most important factors (other than the identity of your lawyer):
- The type of claim you are filing—appealing a denial of benefits tends to take longer than most other types of claims;
- The number and complexity of disabilities you claim;
- How much evidence your claim requires—omitting required evidence could slow processing of your claim to a glacial pace; and
- Which field office you use—some field offices suffer from large backlogs.
Under certain circumstances, such as terminal illness or financial hardship, you can ask the VA to expedite your claim.
Contact the VA Claim Pros at Gerling Law
At Gerling Law, we take your VA disability claim seriously, and we will not rest until you obtain the best possible resolution. Let us handle your claim so that you can focus on what matters the most—your health. VA disability law is federal law. A VA disability lawyer doesn’t need to be qualified to practice law in any particular state to handle VA claims. Accordingly, the VA claim pros at Gerling Law operate nationwide. Call us at 866-311-2894 or contact us online for a free claim evaluation.