Can I Combine Multiple Disabilities Into One VA Claim?
Each condition a veteran has must be claimed individually. However, it is often advantageous to file all of your claims together, particularly when they involve related issues.
For example, if you are seeking service-connection for multiple disabilities that were all caused by the same incident, the VA can examine the incident and determine if service-connection is warranted. Each disability will need its own determination as to whether service-connection should be granted, but the process is still easier for the VA when multiple related claims are submitted at once.
Should You Wait to File a Second Claim?
Some veterans may be reluctant to submit a second claim while their first claim is still being processed because they do not want to slow down the process. While it is true that their first claim may be delayed when a second claim is submitted, it is still preferable to submit every claim you have as quickly as possible for several reasons.
First, your effective date is assigned based on your date of claim, or when you submit an “Intent to File.” . If you wait to file a second claim for two years while your first claim is being decided, you may miss out on two years of retroactive back pay. For some veterans, that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars. According to the VA’s Annual Benefits Report for the 2015 fiscal year, the average number of service-connected disabilities per Veteran is 4.72. For Gulf War Veterans, the average is 6.28 service-connected disabilities per veteran. If you wait for a decision on one claim before filing the next, some veterans could easily be waiting over a decade to have all of their claims processed, without even taking into account the extra time required when you appeal a claim denial. In order to get the earliest possible effective date, best practice is to file your claim as soon as possible.
If you are a veteran in the midst of the VA disability claims process, contact us at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Call our office at 401-331-6300 to receive your no-cost case evaluation.
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