Archive for the ‘Veterans’ Category

Are You Eligible for Veterans Disability Benefits if You Can Still Work?

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Here’s something many disabled veterans may not know: Even if one is working or able to work, eligibility for VA disability compensation may still be possible – even at the 100 percent evaluation level.

For many VA claims, current employment or ability to work does not bar you from receiving benefits.

In fact, it’s not even considered in the VA’s evaluation of the condition. Veterans should not let the fact alone that they’re able to work keep them from applying for benefits for service-related injuries, illnesses or disabilities.

Instead, claimants should try to become knowledgeable of the specific rating requirements for any conditions at issue.

For example, consider the rating criteria for Valvular Heart Disease. Nowhere in the rating for that condition is employment or ability to work expressly considered, although physical exertion levels are.

However, compare that with the rating criteria for Mental Disorders. These ratings expressly consider “occupational and social impairment.” If a person works full-time without accommodations being made by the employer for the mental disability, it’s most likely that person would not be able to receive a 100 percent rating for the condition as they are not likely to have a total occupational impairment.

Military veterans signed an enlistment contract. They raised their hands and swore to support and defend the Constitution. That contract wasn’t one-sided though and Congress additionally recognizes many of the sacrifices servicemembers make. If a veteran upheld his or her end of the bargain, the government needs to uphold theirs.

If you were hurt during the time spent serving our country, you may be entitled to certain benefits, including financial compensation and medical treatment. VA disability claims can be filed for conditions ranging from physical and emotional problems to hearing loss and many other medical issues. To qualify, a veteran may need to affirmatively prove the condition was caused or aggravated during the period of active military service.

However, the process for being approved for VA disability benefits isn’t just about listing events that occurred in service and current symptoms. It’s also about making a persuasive legal argument and presenting the medical evidence in convincing fashion in order to win.

Many VA disability claims are denied at the first administrative level but veterans should not let that discourage them from filing or appealing. Navigating the VA system can be very difficult. No matter how “good” your claim is, if not presented properly, the VA may still not approve it. To complicate matters, veterans are sometimes given poor advice by those who do not understand the complexity of the VA disability process.

If you’ve been denied for VA disability benefits, it helps to have an experienced VA-accredited attorney working on your appeal. Our VA-accredited attorneys have helped many disabled veterans with their VA disability claims. Our team can assist you with developing a thorough and effective appeal. Our experience allows us to look for optimizations and errors in order to find you qualified for the highest-level of VA disability benefits you deserve.

Help for veterans with PTSD

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What does the face of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) look like?

For too many veterans, they simply have to look in the mirror to know the answer to this question.

PTSD is a serious and very complex disorder that affects veterans as a result of the horrors of war, injury, or other in-service event that acts as the root of the disorder.

Once it was called combat fatigue, shell shock and war neurosis.

It affects men and women, the young and old. Often it happens as a direct result of combat. Sometimes it is a result of intense fear.

But one thing that remains common among veterans suffering with PTSD is that it doesn’t simply “go away”.

In my practice I’ve had the privilege to meet many vets who have been diagnosed with PTSD and many who were referred out to medical providers for evaluation of PTSD.

The VA seems to do a decent job of screening for PTSD symptoms. Just ask anyone who has been asked those questions over and over again every time they go in to the VA for even a hangnail.

But there is good reason for this constant screening. In 2011, nearly a half-million veterans were treated at the VA for PTSD. The rate of PTSD in Vietnam veterans has been found to be as high as 30 percent, according to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. Persian Gulf war vets reflect a PTSD rate as high as 24 percent; and the Iraq and Afghanistan war vets it is currently at 12.5 percent, with that number expected to rise dramatically.

PTSD also affects families.

Many vets talk to me and make it clear that what we discuss stays between us, allowing the vet to have a kind of compartmentalization of their life in war outside of their life now.
We all value how our family “sees us,” and I think vets don’t want to burden their families with stories of war time when discussing their VA Disability claim.

That’s a situation where being an attorney, outside of the family, actually is a benefit for the veteran. The vets status as a father, spouse, brother or sister doesn’t have to then be tainted by a far away war. An important part of my job is just listening and being that safe place where veterans can talk openly about what they saw and experienced in service to their country.

What kind of symptoms do vets suffering from PTSD experience? Let’s see what the VA has to say about this:

  • The veteran has bad dreams or nightmares about the event that happened in service or something similar to it.

    • The vet behaves or feels as if the event were happening all over again (this is known as having flashbacks)
    • The vet has a lot of strong or intense feelings when reminded of the event
    • The vet has a lot of physical sensations when reminded of the event (for example, a racing or pounding heart, sweating, finding it hard to breathe, feeling faint, feeling like they are going to lose control)
  • The veteran has symptoms of avoiding reminders of the traumatic event that they experienced in service:

    • Avoid thoughts, feelings, or talking about things that remind them of the event
    • Avoid people, places, or activities that remind them of the event
    • Have trouble remembering some important part of the event
  • Since the event happened, the veteran notices that they:

    • Have lost interest in, or just don’t do, things that used to be important to them
    • Feel detached from people; find it hard to trust people
    • Feel emotionally “numb” or find it hard to have loving feelings even toward those who are emotionally close to the veteran
    • Have a hard time falling or staying asleep
    • Are irritable and have problems with anger
    • Have a hard time focusing or concentrating
    • Have a feeling that they may not live very long and feel there’s no point in planning for the future
    • Are jumpy and get startled or surprised easily
    • Are always “on guard”
    • Stomach problems
    • Intestinal (bowel) problems
    • Gynecological (female) problems
    • Weight gain or loss
    • Pain, for example, in back, neck, or pelvic area
    • Headaches
    • Skin rashes and other skin problems
    • Lack of energy; feel tired all the time
    • Alcohol, drug, or other substance use problems
    • Depression or feeling down
    • Anxiety or worry
    • Panic attacks

There are other symptoms, specific to women who are suffering from PTSD. I’ll address women veterans and PTSD in a later blog post.

If you see several of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, talk to a professional about it.

There are an incredible number of ways for veterans to discuss and get help with PTSD:

  • The VA Veteran Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255, Option 1 (You can also TEXT them: Text to 838255)
  • The Veteran Combat Call Center (87) WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat war veteran
  • DOD Defense Center for Excellence  (866) 966-1020
  • Military OneSource (800) 342-9647 (counseling and other resources)
  • Support for Families of those who suffer from PTSD

If your claim for PTSD was denied by the VA, please consider contacting Deuterman Law Group.