An estimated 4.9 million veterans (or 27%), had a service-connected disability as of August 2022.
Disability approval depends on the information you provide on a disability benefits questionnaire. However, navigating VA claims can feel like making your way through a complex maze of information and paperwork. It’s often stressful and frustrating.
You deserve to receive assistance, so we’re covering seven tips to make filling out a veteran disability claim easier. Keep reading to discover what they are and how to improve your chances of getting approved.
1. Understand What Counts as a Service-Connected Disability
The VA defines a qualifying disability as a disabling condition incurred or aggravated by an applicant’s military service. The purpose of a veteran disability claim is to prove this point.
Veterans that receive benefits get a compensation rate that is based on a graduated scale. It starts at 10 percent and goes up to 100 percent.
Veterans must have served during a wartime period. Additionally, they cannot have a dishonorable discharge and they must prove they have limited assets or resources.
Make sure that you meet all the qualifications before filling out the claim. Read about Title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4 to understand the VA’s schedule for evaluating disabilities.
2. Understand the Disability Forms
Disability benefits questionnaires may appear complicated at first. There’s a lot to read, and it might not always be easy to understand.
Take your time to find clarification for the parts of the form you don’t get. It’s better than making a guess and filling in the wrong information, which can affect your approval chances.
For instance, there’s a section where you list current disabilities. You want to be as clear as possible here so the VA knows what you mean.
Use specifics and the correct terminology. Write down which knee you have a problem with or the exact medical term for your condition.
Here is a list of some qualifying VA disability conditions:
- Arm or leg amputation
- Back pain
- Knee pain and injuries (specify which knee)
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Torn rotator cuff
- Wrist injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Scar pain
- Chronic pain
- And more
3. Be as Accurate as Possible
It’s okay if you don’t remember the exact dates when you received treatment. Put down your best guess. Your veteran disability claim form also asks for approximate dates that the disabilities began or got worse.
While having all your medical records in order is ideal, it isn’t always possible. When you have to list the dates you were diagnosed or how long you’ve been suffering with the condition, simply put in an accurate guess.
4. File Your Claim in a Timely Manner
Some veterans make the mistake of waiting too long to file a claim. Perhaps they might think the condition isn’t bad enough to justify the paperwork. However, it’s crucial to apply for disability as soon as you notice the problem and if it’s affecting your daily life.
Conditions can get worse. Chronic pain may start out as a minor inconvenience and turn into a disabling condition that prevents you from working or enjoying activities you once enjoyed.
You want to file your claim as early as possible so that you can access your benefits when you need them. You can also report any changes in your condition, and it can change the rating.
So, it’s in your best interest to apply as soon as you can.
5. Provide Complete Information
A common reason that veterans are often disqualified, especially first-time applicants, is that they fail to provide complete information. Missing one section on the form or not providing enough information is enough to impact your approval chances.
Read over your application once or twice, or even ask someone else to take a look at it. A fresh pair of eyes can pinpoint mistakes or areas that aren’t clear enough.
You want to provide the VA examiner with complete and accurate information.
6. Obtain a Nexus Letter
A Nexus letter is a detailed report that’s prepared by a third-party doctor. This doctor will examine an applicant to learn more about their disability and medical conditions.
The purpose of going to a neutral party is to get an unbiased, professional medical opinion. Veterans may seek a Nexus letter if their first claim was rejected. These doctors can verify a disabling condition, which helps applicants get the compensation they need.
The Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam may not be enough to convey the full extent of your disability. Taking another step and getting an extra opinion can help your claim.
7. Don’t Forget About Secondary Conditions
It’s common for a service-connected disability to lead to further complications and disabling conditions.
For instance, chronic pain may cause an individual to develop depression. In fact, there’s a definite link between pain and depression. People may also develop difficulties sleeping or anxiety on top of dealing with other conditions.
As you can see, one disability can quickly cause many other life-altering problems. So, don’t forget to list these secondary conditions to claim benefits for them.
Dealing with a disability can feel like an uphill battle. We understand what it’s like for veterans. Finding the right support and resources can help you take control of your life again.
Preparing to Fill Out the Disability Benefits Questionnaire?
Many veterans applying for disability find the process frustrating as there are many ways to make mistakes and have a claim rejected. However, using these tips will make it a little easier.
If you have questions about the disability benefits questionnaire, or if you need assistance getting the VA disability rating you deserve, we can help. Learn more about our process and then contact us today.