What many people may not realise is that after returning home from battle, veterans can often face difficult challenges. Many are left with debilitating injuries which can make it hard, or even impossible, to return to their previous line of work. As a result, they may find themselves struggling financially. Fortunately, there are a number of things that military veterans can do to get the compensation they deserve for their injuries. In this article, we will explore a few key steps that all injured veterans should take to ensure they get the benefits they are owed.
1. Consult With An Attorney
The first step is to speak with an attorney who specialises in veterans’ benefits. This is the best way to learn about all of the options available to you and to get help filing any necessary paperwork. Looking for trusted VA disability lawyers, and choosing one that has experience with your particular type of injury – whether that’s service-connected or not, is essential. There are two main types of compensation available to military veterans: service-connected and non-service-connected.
- Service-connected compensation is given to veterans whose injuries were caused by, or worsened by, their time in service.
- Non-service-connected compensation is given to veterans whose injuries were not caused by their time in service, but may still be related to it.
A lawyer can help you navigate the complex bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and make sure that you do not miss out on any benefits to which you are entitled.
2. Know The Law
Of course, you do not need to know every single law related to veterans’ benefits in order to get the compensation you deserve. However, it can be helpful to have a general understanding of the laws that govern these benefits. This way, you will know what to expect and you will be able to spot any potential problems along the way. For starters, the Adjusted Compensation Payment Act from 1936 provides for service-connected disability compensation. This means that if you were injured while serving in the military, you may be eligible for benefits. This act set the tone for all future laws related to veterans’ benefits, so it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to learn more. The Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 1996 (VBIA) also governs veterans’ benefits and was created to streamline the process of applying for and receiving benefits. It is important to note that the VBIA only applies to service-connected injuries, so if your injury is not service-connected, you will need to look into other laws that may apply to you.
3. File A Claim As Soon As Possible
If you have been injured, it is important to file a claim for benefits as soon as possible. The sooner you do so, the sooner you will be able to get the compensation you need and deserve. Not only that, but you also do not want to risk the statute of limitations running out on your claim. In most cases, you have two years from the date of your injury to file a claim for benefits. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are suffering from a service-connected injury, you have one year from the date of your discharge to file a claim. If you are not sure when the statute of limitations expires on your particular claim, it is best to speak with an attorney (sooner rather than later) who can help you out.
4. Gather Supporting Documentation
One of the most important things you can do when filing a claim for benefits is to gather as much supporting documentation as possible. This includes medical records, discharge papers, and any other relevant information. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to prove your case and get the benefits you re entitled to. One way to gather this information is to request a copy of your military medical records. You can do this by filling out this form and mailing it to the National Personnel Records Centre, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR). If you were treated at a VA hospital or clinic, you can also request your records online. On the other hand, if you were treated at a private hospital or clinic, you will need to get in touch with them directly to request your records.
5. Deployment History
Your deployment history can also be used as supporting documentation in your claim for benefits. This includes information such as the dates and locations of your deployments, the length of your deployments, and the type of duties you performed while deployed. If you were injured while on deployment, this information can be helpful in proving that your injury was related to your time in service. It can also serve as a character witness of sorts, as it can show that you served your country honourably and with dedication. The NPRC-MPR can provide you with these records if you served in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. If you served in the Navy or the Merchant Marines, you will need to request your records from the National Archives.
6. Get A Letter From Your Doctor
If you are seeking benefits for a service-connected injury, you will need to get a letter from your doctor outlining the extent of your injuries and how they have affected your life. This is known as a “nexus letter” and it is an important part of your claim. Your doctor will need to state that your injury is service-connected and that it is caused you some level of disability. Without this letter, it will be difficult to prove that your injury is related to your time in service. It is important to get this letter even if it is obvious from your medical records that your injury is service-connected. The letter will help to solidify your claim and give you a better chance of getting the benefits you deserve.
7. Appeal Any Unfavourable Decisions
If your claim for benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process can be complex, so it is important to have an attorney on your side who can help you navigate it. There are a few different stages of appeal, so it is important to keep that in mind as you go through the process. First, you will need to file a Notice of Disagreement with the VA. This is basically a letter stating that you disagree with the decision to deny your claim. From there, you will have to go through an informal conference and a formal appeal before you can take your case to court. The appeals process can be long and drawn out, so it is important to be prepared for it.
Filing a claim for benefits can be a complicated and lengthy process, but it is important to do non the less. By consulting with an experienced lawyer, gathering supporting documentation, writing a nexus letter, and appealing any unfavourable decisions, you will give yourself the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve.
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