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Veteran (VA) Disability Lawyer Serving Flint, Michigan

The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers disability compensation to eligible veterans who suffered from disabling conditions as a result of their military service. Veterans with preexisting conditions that were aggravated by service may also be eligible for these benefits. Veterans with dependents who meet certain criteria may be eligible for additional benefits as well.

Some of the more common health conditions that veterans claim VA benefits for include hearing loss, back pain, asthma, various cancers, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). If you received a denial on your claim for disability benefits, or were assigned a combined disability rating lower than what you expected, contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD to see if we can help you file an appeal. Our veterans’ disability attorneys serving Flint, Michigan may be able to guide you through the process. . Contact us at 800-544-9144 for a complimentary initial consultation.

How Does VA Determine Monthly Benefits?

VA assigns a combined disability rating measured on a scale from 0-100 percent. A combined disability rating is measured in percentages of 10 and is based on the severity of your condition.

Typically, the more severe a condition, the higher the disability rating that will be assigned.  Veterans with multiple conditions will receive a disability rating for each condition deemed to be related to their service, and these ratings will be added together into what VA calls a combined disability rating.

A veteran may receive disability compensation from VA that totals anywhere from $142.29 per month to 3,221.85 per month. This value may increase if your combined disability rating is at least 30 percent and you have eligible dependents. These dependents include children under the age of 18, children in school between the ages of 18 and 23, children who have eligible medical conditions, dependent parents, and spouses. These benefits are not affected by Social Security Disability that you may also be receiving.

Eligibility for VA Disability Compensation

In order for a veteran to be granted service connection, VA requires that they provide proof of the three following criteria:

  • An in-service event, injury, or illness;
  • A current diagnosis by a medical professional; and
  • A medical nexus, or link, between your in-service event, injury, or illness and your current diagnosis

Eligible veterans are encouraged to apply for benefits via VA’s online benefits portal. You can also file in person at a Regional Benefits Office or with help from trained VA benefits professional. Some veterans prefer to complete these steps themselves, while others may choose to file using professional services. Additionally, if your claim for benefits is denied, a veteran disability attorney serving Flint, Michigan may be able to help.

How a Veterans’ Advocate from CCK Can Help

At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, we have handled many disability benefits appeals. We know that the process of filing a claim and receiving disability compensation is often complicated and can take months or even years.. We handle disability compensation, survivor benefits, and many other types of veterans’ claims and appeals.

If you received a denial from VA, our veterans advocates may be able to assist you in appealing that decision. Call us at 800-544-9144 for a free evaluation.

Options for Filing an Appeal with VA

The appeals process for denied claims, death benefits, and requests for changes to your combined disability rating can be very complex. There are also various appeal deadlines that you must meet, as outlined by VA on their website. An attorney may be able to explain the rules that apply to your case and help you to avoid common appeal mistakes.

In the new system under the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA), you can now appeal initial VA decisions in one of three ways.  You can file a supplemental claim, request a higher-level review, or file a Notice of Disagreement requesting a board appeal.  We will discuss each of these options below.

Supplemental Claims

Choose a supplemental claim if you want to add new evidence relevant to your case or identify new evidence that needs to be reviewed.  A VA reviewer will decide whether the new evidence you provide or identify is grounds for a change of VA’s initial case determination.

A supplemental claim should be filed within 12 months of the date printed on your decision letter so that you do not miss out on benefits that you may be entitled to receive.

New evidence is anything relevant to your case that VA did not have before the latest decision was made. Relevancy is determined by whether information can be used to prove or disprove your condition.

You can either submit such evidence yourself or ask VA to obtain it from an approved medical center.  File your supplemental claim by filling out the Decision Review Request: Supplemental Claim (VA Form 20-0995), selecting the appropriate benefits in Part I on the form and stating the issues that you want reviewed in Part II. Provide all new and relevant evidence and submit your claim.  Claims can be submitted in person at a VA regional office or by mail to the designated VA processing facility.

Higher-Level Reviews

You can request that a senior VA employee review your case if you disagree with VA’s decision. If they find that an error was made, your decision may be changed.  You can request higher-level reviews for decisions made on initial or supplemental claims.  You have 12 months from the date printed on your decision letter to request a higher-level claim review, but it is important to note that you cannot request a higher-level review of a decision issued from a request for higher-level review.

Additionally, you are not allowed to submit any new evidence as part of your higher-level review, but you or your representative can speak with your reviewer to tell them why you believe your initial decision should be overturned.  Senior reviewers may try to reach you to discuss your case but will proceed with reviewing your case and issuing a decision if they cannot reach you or your authorized representative after two attempts.

You can request a higher-level review by filling out VA Form 20-0996, Decision Review Request: Higher-Level Review.  Select a type of benefit in Part I, request an informal conference with your reviewer in Part II if you would like to speak with them, and state the issue(s)that you would like reviewed in Part III.  Like supplemental claims, applications for higher-level reviews can be submitted in person at a regional VA office or by mail.  You can also fax your application to the designated VA office.

Board Appeals

With a Board appeal, your appeal will be reviewed by a judge who is an expert in veterans law.  You can choose this option to appeal an initial claim decision, a supplemental claim decision, or a higher-level review request decision, but you cannot request two successive board appeals for a single claim.  You have 12 months from the date on your rating decision letter to request a Board appeal, unless you have a contested claim.

When filing a Board appeal, you must choose from one of the following three dockets:

  1. Direct Docket: Request a direct review in which a judge with expertise on veterans law will review your claim using evidence that you already submitted. You are not allowed to submit new evidence and you cannot have a hearing.
  2. Evidence Docket: Submit more evidence for review.
  3. Hearing Docket: Request a hearing, at which you may present new and relevant evidence if you choose. Your hearing will be conducted either virtually from your home, via videoconference from a VA location near you, or in-person at VA’s Board Appeals Office in Washington, D.C.

If you would like to request a board appeal for your case, fill out VA Form 10182–Decision Review Request: Board Appeal.  Mark the relevant options to indicate the type of review you wish to have and note which issues you want to appeal.  Submit your form as you would a supplemental claim or higher-level review application.

Contact Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD for a Free Case Review

At Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD, we want to ensure that you receive the disability benefits to which you may be entitled with as little stress as possible.  If you want to challenge VA’s decision on your disability claim, contact a veterans’ disability attorney serving Flint, Michigan from CCK at 800-544-9144 to see if we are able to assist.