If you sustained a disabling condition while on active duty, or an existing injury or disability worsened while you were serving in the military, you may be eligible to receive veteran disability benefits from the government. You may also be eligible for benefits if you became disabled as a result of VA healthcare.
The process of filing a VA disability claim can be stressful and time-consuming if you aren't prepared. The following 5 tips will help you prepare for and win your VA disability claim so you can receive the benefits to which you're entitled.
1. File your claim while you're still on active duty
It is best to file a VA disability claim while you're still on active duty because it'll save you a lot of time and trouble. If you have between 60 and 180 days of active duty left, you may qualify for the Benefit Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program at your installation. In the BDD program, decisions are typically made about two months after you separate or retire. If you have less than 60 days of active duty left, you can file a "Quick Start" claim to speed up the process. Even if you're already out of the service, apply right away because the sooner you file your claim, the easier it will be to prove that an in-service injury caused your disability.
2. Make an appointment with a VA counselor
Prior to filing your VA disability claim, make an appointment with a VA counselor so you can learn more about the requirements for filing a claim, determine whether or not you're eligible to apply, and get the necessary paperwork together.
3. Carefully consider what you're going to claim
Don't claim everything you were treated for while you were in the military because it will require you to undergo unnecessary examinations and slow down the application process. Only claim injuries and disabilities you sustained while on active duty that left a residual, and never file more than two claims at once.
4. Send medical records from private providers to VA
If you have been treated by private providers, get your medical records from them and send them to VA. When you file your VA disability claim, you'll have the opportunity to sign a release and have VA request the records for you, but it's common for private providers to ignore these requests. Furthermore, some private providers request an advance payment before sending the records. If that happens, VA will have to write you and request that you get the records yourself and send them, which will add another two to three months to the claims process. Additionally, it's not advisable to allow healthcare providers to mail your medical records directly to VA because you won't have a chance review them first and ensure that they accurately address your condition.
5. Seek legal help
If you want your claim to be processed efficiently and successfully, consider seeking legal help. An experienced disability attorney can assist you in filing your claim and help you get it approved faster.