VA Disability: 6 Top Tips for a Successful Stress-Free Claim
When you’re dealing with a stressful situation, it can be easy to feel like you’re in over your head. The process of applying for and securing VA disability benefits is challenging. It does not have to be overwhelming. If you’re hoping to secure VA disability benefits, you’ll need to get through a series of interviews and assessments before the claims approval or denial.
You may also be asked to attend examinations to undergo a physical or mental evaluation. However, understanding what these steps mean and how best to achieve them isn’t always easy. If you are about to apply for VA disability benefits, here are some top tips that should help reduce stress levels and increase your chances of success:
Establish a support network while you pursue your VA Disability Claim
Receive Mental Health Treatment While Pursuing Your VA Disability Claim
When you’re dealing with a stressful situation, it can be helpful to know that you can reach out for support. VA claimants can benefit from mental health treatment at the
VA. Undergoing the claims process does not have to be a secret, and if you are able to get mental health support….DO IT! The assistance at the Veterans Health Administration is not about your VA disability claim. It is about receiving the health treatment for injuries incurred during service. If you are going through stress during the claims process, you should be seeking treatment with mental health.
Also, if you are having sleep issues, make sure to get a sleep study for sleep apnea!
Look For A VSO While You Pursue Your VA Disability Claim
Seek the assistance of a Veteran Services Officer (VSO), but as with anything, the organization doesn’t matter – the individual does. Expect the VSO to be over-worked and underpaid. Unfortunately, this potentially could become a ‘care-less’ attitude if you have a successful claim or not. They are paid no different if you win or not. Your VA Form 21-22 provides a check to their organization, and that is where the caring usually stops. But on a good note, there ARE GREAT VSOs OUT THERE! You just have to interview & find them.
Get Educated About VA Claims and VA Disability Benefits
If you’re applying for disability benefits, it’s essential to understand the process and your rights. This will help reduce stress and make the process smoother and less stressful. If you’re applying for disability benefits through the VA, you’ll need to be aware of the five-step process. You should also know what your requirements are at each step of the way. Full preparedness for the process requires you to familiarize yourself with the documents you will provide for your claim. You also need to prepare for your C&P examinations.
Understand Where your VA Disability Benefits Should Rate
It is important to understand your conditions and how they should rate. Ensure you review the Code of Federal Regulations to understand VA Math, and what percentage your individual conditions should rate.
Once you understand the above aspects, you should have a pretty good idea to understand what your total compensation should be:
The compensation rates (based on a single veteran and with spouse.) For a complete listing, click here:
|Disability Rating||Monthly Payment|
|Disability Rating||Veteran (alone, no dependents)||With Spouse (no parents or children)|
Don’t Only Rely on the Internet – There is A LOT of False Information
As far as Internet information: BE CAREFUL! There are a lot of veterans (frankly, trying to do the right thing) providing their experiences and believing they “know”. Unless these individuals can provide the United States Code (USC), Code of Federal Regulation (CFR), or M21-1 / M21-5 citations…take what they say for what it is… hearsay. If they can back up the facts with more that “this is how I did it”, then they are ‘competent’ to provide information.
Know your rights as a Veteran Filing a VA Disability Claim
Even though you may be dealing with a stressful situation, you don’t have to be in the dark about your rights. When you apply for disability benefits, you’ll be asked to provide specific documents. However, you don’t have to provide all of these documents at once. Instead, you have a certain amount of time to present your case.
Know What Documents You Need While Presenting Your Strategy
This means you don’t need to worry if you don’t have all of the required documents or paperwork when you apply for disability. Instead, you can simply provide the documents at a later date. This is not always preferable, but this is a possibility. While you may be anxious about missing deadlines, you don’t want to lose out on the approval of your disability claim for a silly mistake.
Create a Strategy and Get a VA Claims Coach or Lawyer
It can be helpful to strategize your overall VA claim. You will also want a strategy for each individual disability claim process. See an example of a strategy here. When you’re dealing with a stressful situation, it can be easy to lose track of time. However, it’s important to create and follow a plan and strategy so you can stay on track and meet all of your deadlines, understand what evidence you must provide, and have a timeline on how to get the goal you desire.
Why Hire VA Claims Coach For Your VA Claims?
Claims Coaches and Lawyers both are very good at preparing and assisting with the strategies. This can help reduce stress and ensure that you complete everything on time and in the correct order. When creating your plan, remember to keep an eye on your deadline. Sometimes you may wish to establish this deadline around your Intent to File (ITF) expiration date. You’ll need to submit your application well before the due date so you don’t miss out on the approval of your claim.
Set Milestone Dates To Produce Evidence For Your VA Disability Claim
When you’re applying for disability benefits, milestones will play a key role in the process. These milestones will encompass many things, such as -> are there secondary VA claims that you can pursue on top of your direct service-connection VA claim? Do you have a diagnosis for all the conditions that could be related to service? If not, YOU MUST GET A DIAGNOSIS ASAP! This is a major milestone that you will have little control over, but you do need to understand some medicine to navigate and advocate for yourself.
Milestone Dates for your VA Disability Claim should make sense on the process the VA follows
The milestones will help keep you on track and will also let you know if you need to act at a certain time. For example, you’ll need to submit your application to the VA at least 1 year from your Intent to File (ITF), if you miss this deadline, your application will not receive the backpay it deserves.
You will also be asked to complete certain forms and tasks before your application is complete. For example, a VA claims examiner may ask you to attend a medical examination before your claim is approved. If you miss this milestone, your claim will be denied.
Finally, be kind to yourself and do not stress about the process. Remember that you’re applying for entitlements you deserve; don’t get so caught up in the process that you drive yourself crazy. Ultimately, with the right approach, even a stressful situation like applying for VA disability benefits can become much less stressful. It’s important to understand the process and prepare before you begin.
If at any point, you would like assistance with strategy, or just to speak to someone about your claim, please feel free to reach out to The Blue Cord Patriots for a no obligation, free session.