FAQ

Checking Your VA Disability Claim Status

If you have submitted a claim for disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you may have to wait an indeterminate amount of time. On average, Veterans’ disability claims can take 125 days before they are decided. That time period can seem interminable, especially if you’re counting on those benefits for your financial security and stability.  Under certain circumstances, the VA may be able to expedite your disability claims due to hardship.  You can check periodically to see the current status of your VA disability claim. What if the decision isn’t the news you were expecting? If your claim was denied or if the VA did not give you the disability rating you feel you deserve, it could mean a significant reduction in the dollar amount of your benefits. The VA disability benefits attorneys at Gerling Law Disability Attorneys understand how devastating this news can be for veterans, and we are prepared to fight to get you the benefits you deserve. How to Check Your VA Disability Claim In the past, veterans had only two ways to get an update on their disability claim status. They could call the VA and sit on hold for hours, or they could wait for a letter to come in the mail with the VA’s decision. Today, the VA has embraced internet technology and launched the VA.gov Claim Status Tool. To check your claim’s status, you must first sign in to www.VA.gov. The site uses two-factor authentication to protect your personal information, so you will have to request an authentication code be sent to you via text or cell phone. Once you enter the code, click on “Check your claim or appeal status” under the “Disability” heading. You will then be directed to an overview of your claim (or claims). Click the “View details” button to review the full timeline and status of the claim on the “Status” tab. The “Files” tab will display any additional documentation that is required, while the “Details” tab will provide information about when your claim was received, what type of disability claim it is, and who your assigned VA claims representative is. Potential Problems with VA Disability Benefits Claims An approval of your benefits isn’t always good news, unfortunately. If the VA approves your claim but bases their decision on incorrect information, it can cost you significantly. The VA might also deny your disability benefits claim or fail to process it in a timely manner. These are the most common problems that veterans experience when checking the status of their claims. Unfavorable Rating Decision The VA will assign a disability rating percentage, which is their opinion of your degree of disability. If the assigned rating is not accurate, it can significantly lower the amount of your benefits. Incorrect Effective Date The effective date of your claim is equally important, as this determines the point from which you are eligible to receive benefits. If the effective date is incorrect, you could lose a significant amount of back pay. Delayed Processing Sometimes claims get lost in the vast VA system. The VA has been known to experience significant disability claims backlogs, causing decisions to be delayed or, worse, to be lost entirely. Denial of VA Disability Claim If the VA does not find that there is a direct connection between your military service and your disability benefits claim, your claim may be denied. If any of these issues occur, you may need help from an experienced, compassionate veterans’ disability benefits attorney. Get Help From Our VA Disability Benefits Attorneys Today If you have questions or if your claims are denied at the VA, talk to one of the experienced VA disability benefits lawyers at Gerling Law. Having a VA claim lawyer on your side can help you get the answers and results you deserve. Whether you need help filing a VA disability benefits claim, appealing a low rating or incorrect effective date, or filing a new claim due to worsening health conditions, we are here to help. Not all disability attorneys can assist veterans with their disability claims—but Gerling Law Disability Attorneys can assist you anywhere in the U.S. Call us at 1-888-GERLING (866-681-3919) or contact us online now for help from one of our compassionate, experienced VA disability claims attorneys.

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FAQ

How to Appeal a VA Disability Claim Decision

For veterans who apply for disability benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more commonly referred to as the VA, claim denials are unfortunately common. Even more common, however, are problems with VA disability benefits claim approvals. These issues, typically involving incorrect disability ratings and effective dates, can significantly reduce the amount of your benefits. Appealing a VA claim decision can be a confusing and daunting prospect. The importance of using the right forms, providing accurate information, and attaching the right supporting documents cannot be overemphasized. Otherwise you could end up with another denial or a refusal to reconsider the previous decision, leaving you with financial hardships you didn’t anticipate. The experienced VA disability benefits attorneys of Gerling Law Disability Attorneys can help. We offer a free consultation to help you decide the best course of action and to explain your options for filing a VA disability benefits claim appeal. In addition, we do not charge a fee unless we are successful. How Common Are VA Disability Benefits Claim Denials? The challenges of getting VA claims approved have been well-documented over the years. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem worsened. The VA denied disability claims to thousands of applicants after in-person medical appointments were temporarily eliminated due to coronavirus concerns. Being forced to use telemedicine services made it impossible for many veterans to get the exams necessary to get their benefits claims approved. Although no actual statistics are published by the VA on what percentage of claims are denied, reports indicate a high rate of denials for certain types of claims, such as those related to toxic exposure in burn pits, a long-time problem that comedian John Stewart waged a public battle over in recent years. Even more common and problematic than denials, however, are VA disability claim approvals that are based on incorrect effective dates and incorrect VA disability ratings. Often, veterans must appeal the details of a claim approval to get the record straight, so they can get the full amount of benefits they deserve. Appealing VA Disability Claims Decisions If you aren’t sure where your claim is in the process, the best way to start is by checking the status of your VA disability claim. Once you get a decision and have time to review it, you can either accept the decision or appeal it. Whether you received a denial or an unsatisfactory approval, you typically have only one year from the date of a VA disability claim decision to appeal. The process for appealing a VA disability claim requires that you select one of three types of appeals, which are as follows. Supplemental claim, Higher-level review, and Board of Veterans Affairs (BVA) appeal. A supplemental claim is an appropriate choice if you have new evidence to provide in support of your claim. A higher-level review is appropriate if you want a senior reviewer to revisit the rendered decision based upon records that were already on file. A BVA appeal can be elected as well if you would prefer your case go directly to a judge for review.  When you elect a BVA appeal, you have three options to choose from.  You can elect direct review by a Veterans Law Judge which is similar to electing higher-level review at the VA level. You can elect evidence submission review by a Veterans Law Judge, which is similar to a supplemental claim and requires new evidence to be submitted. The last option to elect is to have a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge.  You can always start at the VA level first with your supplemental claim or higher-level review. If you are unhappy with the outcome of a supplemental claim review or a higher-level review, filing a board appeal would be the next step in the appeals process.  You can request a decision review or appeal on the www.VA.gov website, or you can contact an experienced VA disability benefits attorney to handle this complex and daunting process on your behalf. Important Note: The Appeal Process for VA Claims Has Changed Prior to February 2019, the appeals process was different than it is today. If you have an appeal that was initiated prior to that time, you can track it through the VA’s legacy appeals interface. Although the VA website is updated with all the relevant information on the updated process, you may come across websites that reference the retired appeals process. Be careful to ensure that you’re following up-to-date advice before you attempt to file an appeal. The best way to approach this challenging situation may be to have an experienced VA disability benefits attorney on board to assist you. Finding a Veterans Disability Attorney to Help with VA Claim Appeals Although filing VA appeals on your own is not impossible, having an experienced VA disability benefits lawyer to assist you can make a world of difference. The VA denies claims for a variety of reasons. For example, they deny claims that were submitted on the wrong forms or because the forms weren’t filled out correctly or completely. Most often, however, the VA denies disability claims because they lack sufficient documentation to prove a service-related disability. This is also one of the most common reasons for claim approvals that don’t have the correct effective date or that include too low of a disability rating. Before you decide how to proceed with a VA disability benefits claim appeal, take a moment to speak with a disability attorney from Gerling Law Disability Attorneys. For more than a half-century, our experienced attorneys have been fighting for the rights of our clients. We work quickly, compassionately, and aggressively, working tirelessly to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us now at 1-888-GERLING (866-681-3919) or contact us online to request help with your VA disability benefits application or to discuss how to appeal a VA claim.

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FAQ

Understanding Your VA Disability Benefits Rating

If you have applied for VA disability benefits—or if you’re preparing to submit your claim—it is important for you to learn more about the VA disability rating and how it can affect your benefits. In the processing of disability claims, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determines this rating and uses it to calculate the value of your benefit payments. If it gets the rating wrong, you could receive significantly less compensation than you expect—and deserve. The VA disability attorneys at Gerling Law Disability Attorneys work tirelessly for our veteran clients to help them get the benefits they deserve. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation for veterans who hope to get their disability claim approved or who have encountered problems in the approval process. What Is a VA Disability Benefits Rating? In the simplest terms, your disability rating is the VA’s opinion of your degree of disability, ranging from 0% to 100%. We will look at how this number is calculated below, but even more important is how this rating is used to calculate your benefits. Each year, the VA publishes its official Veterans Disability Compensation Rates schedule. This schedule states clearly what your monthly benefits will be based on your disability rating and your dependent status. For a disabled veteran with no dependents, monthly benefit payments based on disability rating are as follows. 10%        $144.14 20%        $284.93 30%        $441.35 40%        $635.77 50%        $905.04 60%        $1,146.39 70%        $1,444.71 80%        $1,679.18 90%        $1,887.18 100%      $3,146.42 As you can see, the difference between each rating can be significant. To understand how the VA arrives at these figures, we must consider how it calculates your rating.  These amounts listed above for each percentage are subject to change thanks to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) which are evaluated once per year.  If a COLA is implemented, the amount of benefits will increase. How Is the Disability Rating Calculated? The VA does not total all of the individual disability ratings together as one total rating. This means if a Veteran has a 50% rating for one condition and 40% for another, their rating would not total to 90%.  On the combined rating scale, they would only be rated 70%.  The VA uses individuals known as rating authorities (or sometimes just “raters”) to calculate and assign disability ratings for veterans who have submitted a claim for benefits. These individuals are caseworkers who handle this responsibility for both the VA and the U.S. Department of Defense.  Each disability is rated on a combined disability benefits rating scale.   Raters review your submitted documentation, including doctors’ reports, test results, correspondence, etc., and analyze the information to arrive at a diagnosis (or diagnoses, if you suffer from multiple conditions). Each condition is assigned a diagnostic code. Rating authorities then look up each diagnostic code in the Veteran Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities, or VASRD. Each diagnostic code has been pre-assigned a percentage of disability. For example, the VASRD assigns an applicant who has had heart valve replacement surgery a 100% disability rating for an indefinite period after hospital admission. An applicant who suffers from a peripheral vestibular disorder with dizziness and occasional staggering would be assigned a rating of 30%, whereas someone with recurrent tinnitus would be assigned a rating of only 10%. The challenges of the VASRD pre-assigned ratings, however, is that few disabled veterans have a single, chronic medical condition that is so easily quantified. If you suffer from a variety of conditions, or if your condition isn’t specifically outlined in the VASRD, rating authorities have to make decisions on their own. In that case, ratings are assigned for each condition and then, using a complex set of formulas and calculations, averaged to establish your overall disability rating. As you might imagine, the rating authorities’ decisions can be both subjective and inaccurate. And this can lead to you receiving a disability benefits rating that is lower than your actual level of disability. How to Find My VA Disability Rating You will be able to find your disability rating once the VA has rendered a decision about your claim application. This typically occurs within 90 days of submitting your benefits claim, although the process can take longer. Start by checking the status of your disability claim on www.VA.gov. If a decision has been made, you will be able to see each individual rating as well as your combined disability rating. Because the dollar value of your monthly benefits is calculated directly from your disability rating, an incorrect rating can be devastating. You can appeal the VA’s decision on your benefits claim. Before you attempt that process, however, consider talking to an experienced veterans disability benefits lawyer to learn more about your options. Contact a VA Disability Benefits Lawyer for Help The VA disability claims attorneys of Gerling Law Disability Attorneys understand the importance of getting your benefits claim approved. However, we also understand how critical it is to get your disability rating right. As a nationwide veterans disability benefits law firm, we can assist our client’s located anywhere in the U.S. If you are a United States Military Veteran or family member of a veteran living in another country other than the United States, you can still have your claim evaluated by our experienced VA disability attorneys.  Your consultation is free, and you won’t owe any legal fees unless we get your benefits approved. Call us now at 1-888-GERLING (866-681-3919) to learn more about how our compassionate, experienced attorneys can help you. You can also contact us online to request help with your VA disability rating or benefits claim. Basic Rates for Monthly Payments Dependent Status 30%disability rating(in U.S. $) 40%disabilityrating(in U.S. $) 50%disabilityrating(in U.S. $) 60%disabilityrating(in U.S. $) Veteran alone (no dependents) 441.35 635.77 905.04 1,146.39 With spouse (no parents or children) 493.35 705.77 992.04 1,251.39 With spouse and 1 parent (no children) 535.35 761.77 1,062.04 1,335.39 […]

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News and Updates

The Wall of Faces

March 17, 2021 – The Wall of Faces was created to preserve the legacy of those who sacrificed all while serving in Vietnam.  Their goal is to find photos to go with over 58,000 names on the wall.  Family members can share memories or post pictures. Information on how you can submit images or memories can be found here.  Vietnam Veterans Day is on March 29th. Reference: “Virtual Wall of Faces almost complete, needs remaining photos”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, March 17, 2021, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86048/virtual-wall-faces-almost-complete-needs-remaining-photos/

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News and Updates

The American Rescue Plan And Its Impact on Veterans

March 16, 2021 – Veterans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may get some relief.  President Biden’s plan called the American Rescue Plan has now been passed.  A portion of this plan is focused on the Veterans Administration to improve the lives of veterans nationwide.  $17 billion was given to the Veterans Administration to aid in health care, housing support for homeless veterans, debt forgiveness related to copayments, construction grants, the backlog of compensation and pension claims, and much more.  According to the VA, compensation, and pension claims have grown from 76,000 in March of 2020 to more than 212,000 in March of 2021. Reference: “How the American Rescue Plan aids VA in helping Veterans”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, March 16, 2021, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/86147/american-rescue-plan-aids-va-helping-veterans/

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News and Updates

National K9 Veterans Day

March 13, 2021 – March 13th is a day recognizing the dedicated K9 units who served.  The military has developed a variety of training methods for K9 units.  March 13th is also the official birthday of the US Army K9 Corps, which was formed in 1942. Military working dogs are trained to protect humans in dangerous situations and have been part of many campaigns.  Since WW1, it is estimated that approximately one million K9’s were killed in action during war.  Our military K9s are trained to track down suspects, save law enforcement or military personnel, find wounded soldiers, locate weapon caches, deliver messages during combat, tactical training for combat situations, and even sniff out improvised explosive devices. Today we honor our military K9s.  We also honor their trainers.  Without their rigorous training and efforts, many more lives would be lost. We thank you for your service! Reference: K9 Veterans Day, militarybenefits.info, https://militarybenefits.info/k9-veterans-day/

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News and Updates

VANotify – Veterans Administration New Notification System

March 10, 2021 – Veterans can now receive updates digitally through VANotify.  Veterans are not required to sign up for VANotify and the VA is now using this to communicate with veterans receiving services by the Veterans Administration.  In order for Veterans to be notified they must have all of their contact information on file and up to date with the Veterans Administration. Veterans will receive notifications of changes to their VA accounts, VA pharmacy deliveries, receipt of benefits applications, and benefit payment notifications. Reference: “Veterans get updates through new digital notification feature”, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, March 10, 2021, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85891/veterans-get-updates-through-new-digital-notification-feature/

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News and Updates

Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month – March

March 4, 2021 – Did you know March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month?  Veterans who have symptoms and/or diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in the military, or within 7 years from the time they discharge honorably from the military service, may be eligible for disability benefits compensation.   Reference: “Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence”, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence, Veterans Benefits, https://www.va.gov/MS/Veterans/benefits/What_Are_My_VA_Benefits_for_Multiple_Sclerosis.asp#:~:text=MS%20is%20a%20presumptive%20condition,be%20eligible%20for%20SC%20disability.

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Blog Posts

VA Resources For Women Who Served in Our Military

March 4, 2021 –  According to the Veterans Administration more than 196,000 women Veterans used educational benefits and more than 555,000 women Veterans received $10.7 billion in disability compensation.  More resources are becoming available for women who serve in the U.S. Military.  Women Veteran Coordinators are available at all VA regional offices to assist women Veterans. Reference: Women Veterans have access to VA resources,  U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, March 4, 2021, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85336/women-veterans-access-va-resources/

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Blog Posts

Free Tax Prep For Veterans and Their Families

March 3, 2021 – The AARP Foundation offers veterans and their families free tax preparation assistance for veterans and their families.  Veterans who receive military retirement pay are required to pay federal taxes from their retirements.  VA Disability Compensation is not taxable, but it is important to assess your income to determine if you must file your taxes every year. The AARP is offering their services for tax preparation and you are not required to be a member of AARP to take advantage of this program. Reference: “AARP, others offer free tax prep to help Veterans, Military and Families, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VAntage Point Official Blog of the U.S. Dept of Veteran Affairs, VA News Release, March 3, 2021, https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85428/aarp-others-offer-free-tax-prep-help-veterans-military-families/#comments

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