Understanding VA Disability Claims
Are you struggling with an injury or illness from your military service? Are you ready to apply for disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)?
Then it’s important to understand what type of claim to file. Veterans may file for benefits based on
pre-service disabilities, in-service disabilities, post-service disabilities, and special circumstances.1
If you began your military service with a disability that was worsened by your service, you may qualify for benefits. The VA refers to this situation as an aggravation, and veterans can be compensated based on the level of aggravation beyond the condition’s typical progression.1
The VA defines in-service disabilities as injuries or diseases that occurred in active service and in the line of duty.1
If you become disabled in service and you have not been discharged from the military yet, you can use one of the pre-discharge programs,2 which include Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) and the Quick Start Program.
Each pre-discharge program corresponds with the time remaining in your military service. The BDD program is for military service members with 60 to 180 days of remaining service and the Quick Start Program is for service members with one to 59 days remaining.3-4
You may be able to claim disability benefits if a condition arises after you are discharged from the military.
A post-service disability can sometimes be presumed to have been caused by military service.1 The Veterans Benefits Administration notes that there is a presumptive service connection for diseases associated with radiation exposure, exposure to herbicides such as Agent Orange, service in certain geographic regions, some chronic medical conditions, and captivity as a prisoner of war.5-7
The VA also compensates veterans who became ill after being exposed to asbestos, contaminated drinking water, various environmental hazards, mustard gas, and tests for chemical and biological weapons.8
Some conditions are also known to cause other, secondary conditions. For example, in 2013, the VA issued a new rule stating that veterans with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can also be compensated for related illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, unprovoked seizures, specific types of dementia, depression, and some hormonal diseases.9-10
In some instances, veterans can get 100-percent disability compensation. One such instance is Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU), in which veterans must be unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to one or more service-connected conditions .11
Appealing a Denied VA Disability Claim
Has the VA denied your disability claim? Get help filing an appeal.
Contact Vets National Advocates. We understand the VA’s complex appeals process, and we can guide you every step of the way.
Call 877-777-4021. Or, fill out our Denied Claims Rapid Response Form.
1. “Compensation: Types of Claims.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/types-claims.asp.
2. “Pre-Discharge.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/PREDISCHARGE/index.asp.
3. “Pre-Discharge: Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD).” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/PREDISCHARGE/claims-pre-discharge-benefits-delivery-at-discharge.asp.
4. “Pre-Discharge: Quick Start Program.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/PREDISCHARGE/claims-pre-discharge-quickstart.asp.
5. “Compensation: Diseases within One-Year Post-Service.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-one_year.asp.
6. “Compensation: Disability Compensation.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-disability.asp.
7. “Disability Compensation: “PRESUMPTIVE” DISABILITY BENEFITS.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Feb. 2015. Web. http://benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/serviceconnected/presumption.pdf.
8. “Compensation: Military Hazardous Exposures.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-index.asp.
9. Russo, William F. “Secondary Service Connection for Diagnosable Illnesses Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury.” Federal Register. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 17 Dec. 2013. Web. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/12/17/2013-29911/secondary-service-connection-for-diagnosable-illnesses-associated-with-traumatic-brain-injury.
10. “VA to Expand Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injury.” Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 16 Dec. 2013. Web. http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2506.
11. “Special Claims: Individual Unemployability.” Veterans Benefits Administration. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d. Web. http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-special-individual_unemployability.asp.