Vietnam was a bloody conflict that cost many veterans their lives–and if not, their continuing health. But it may come as a surprise to some that the Vietnam War cannot hold a candle to Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of injuries. 53,000 of our soldiers suffered some form of injury in the line of duty during these recent conflicts.
These injuries have resulted in many disabled veterans in need of perpetual medical aid. Thankfully, the U.S. government provides disabled veteran benefits. That said, these are not automatic and require that you meet certain qualifications.
If you intend to put in a disability claim, then wait just a second. Keep reading as we discuss how you can qualify for VA disability benefits.
What Disabled Veteran Benefits Are Available to You?
Disabled veteran benefits extend far beyond just medical compensation for dealing with injuries or veteran PTSD. Benefits can help you get special pensions, home loans, and even burial allowances.
Here are just a few of the benefits you may be able to apply for:
- VA disability compensation
- VA home loans
- Readjustment counseling
- Federal hiring preference
- VA education benefits
Needless to say, just being disabled does not qualify you for all these benefits. Some require you to be 100% disabled, such as commissary privileges. Others require unique circumstances or financial situations, such as your degree of reduced work ability.
Basic Requirements to Qualify
The VA will not distribute benefits for just any disability. It must meet the following criteria:
- You must have served in some form of active duty or active duty training (or inactive training)
- Your injury or illness must be current and must affect your body or mind
- You must have a current medical diagnosis for it
- Continuous symptoms from this condition, including worsening symptoms
In addition to this, you must have at least one of these situations:
- Your injury or illness occurred during active military service, or as a result of it
- Pre-existing conditions worsen as a result of your service
- The condition didn’t appear until some time after your service ended
The VA considers “presumptive” conditions. These are all conditions that assume your service was their cause, not something else.
Presumptive conditions don’t require you to provide proof that the condition resulted from your service. Instead, you just need to meet the requirements in accordance with that presumption:
- Chronic illness that emerges within at least a year following your discharge
- Illness related to contact with hazardous materials and/or toxic chemicals
- Injuries or illnesses resulting from imprisonment during wartime (POW status)
These benefits may also cover some qualified dependents. Note: These are the most general requirements. Individual veteran benefits for unique situations will have their own requirements as well.
Examples of Covered Conditions
The above is quite vague, so let’s discuss conditions that may give you coverage. Note: This list is not comprehensive and may not include your specific condition.
- Chronic back pain from your service, with an official disability diagnosis
- Service-related breathing problems such as lung disease or a current lung condition
- Extreme hearing loss, which may include debilitating tinnitus
- Scar tissue
- Injuries that prevent full range of motion
- Conditions (such as cancer) that have occurred from your interaction with toxic chemicals
Disability benefits also extend to concerns about mental health and brain trauma. You may also receive coverage for the following:
- TBI (traumatic brain injury)
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
You will need to fill out a disability questionnaire. Taking the time to be thorough and providing all necessary paperwork will ensure you get a prompt qualification.
Disqualifications for Veteran Benefits
In rare situations, your actions may have disqualified you from veteran benefits. The most common reasons are for the following:
- Dishonorable discharge
- Bad conduct
- Other than honorable
However, there are still options available to you. You may be able to apply for a discharge upgrade. If not, you can have your discharge reviewed by the VA Character of Discharge process.
Tips to Maximize Your Chances at Qualification
Before you file your claim, you want to have the best chance at getting a qualification. Here are some tips so you pcan putyour best foot forward with the VA review committee.
Obtain Up-To-Date Medical Information
It’s not enough to experience an injury or illness that you self-diagnose. You may have chronic back pain that you treat by visiting a chiropractor. But until you get a confirmed diagnosis, the VA may not accept your claim.
Get Everything in Writing
In addition to the above, get clear, verifiable documents from your medical professional. These should state in no uncertain terms what condition or conditions you have and what limitations they impose on your life. Documents from a certified medical professional will be crucial to your application process.
If necessary, get a second opinion. In some cases, your doctor may not be competent or may not take your condition as seriously as they should. Find a doctor that will side with you and will provide whatever is necessary to get you qualified.
The date that you get these diagnoses is important, too. Get your diagnosis ASAP, or the VA could potentially claim that it is an unrelated disability.
Take Care Of Yourself
There’s a good chance that some everyday activities may exacerbate an existing injury. VA benefits will cover injuries or illnesses that get worse over time. But accidents that you are responsible for could complicate your qualification.
Take care of yourself and avoid activities that could put you in more pain or worsen your injury. Don’t live with the assumption that you will get VA benefits if you don’t already have them.
Find More on Veterans Educating Veterans
Disabled veteran benefits can provide essential financial help when your disability affects everyday life and earning potential. However, VA disability benefits do not extend to any and all disabilities that veterans have. Make sure you qualify before you go through the disability claim process.
Veterans Educating Veterans is your go-to source for everything veterans need to get their VA benefits. Join our community and build a bulletproof claim for your coverage.