While it may be true that the road to receiving service-connected disability benefits can be long and winding, it can be navigated. At Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick, we specialize in helping veterans, especially those who have been denied benefits.
Understanding the History of the VA
It helps to understand what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is and how it came to exist. Congress began awarding more formal benefits for veterans after the First World War, and in 1930, Herbert Hoover created the Veterans Administration in an effort to form cohesion between the different entities handling veterans affairs. When World War II ended, there were more veterans – with more needs – than ever before. Congress soon consolidated several agencies: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration.
How the VBA Works
Veterans disability claims are handled by the Veterans Benefits Administration. The VBA is responsible for:
- Compensation service;
- Pension and fiduciary service;
- Insurance service; and
- Benefits assistance service.
The Different Methods of Applying for Disability
Once you have filed your claim for disability benefits, (see our previous blog post, ‘Veterans: What Makes You Eligible to File a Disability Claim’), the next step is generally to submit any evidence you may have in support of your claim. VA has a duty to assist you in this process and does so by issuing a notice pursuant to the Veterans Claims and Assistance Act, or VCAA notice. This notice is meant to advise veterans of what VA may need in order to develop the claim, such as service medical and personnel records, current medical records, and/or a medical evaluation and opinion. Fortunately, as the VA has evolved over years, so has the disability claim process. It’s now much easier to file a claim and submit evidence by doing so online. The online system called eBenefits enables veterans to file claims, submit evidence, and access healthcare records online through a portal sponsored by both the VA and the Department of Defense.
From the date you initially submit your claim or your intent to file a claim, you have a full year to compile, upload, and submit substantiating evidence. The eBenefits system can also be used later to access and manage benefits.
However, the internet isn’t for everybody, and some veterans would rather submit claims in hard copy on their own, or with the assistance of a VA claims agent, legal representative, or personnel at their local regional office.
If you need assistance in navigating the lengthy and complicated claims and/or appeals process, the team at Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick is ready to help. Contact our veterans lawyers for a free case evaluation.
For immediate help, call 401-331-6300 or contact us online.