In Pennsylvania, there are more than 800,000 veterans — which amounts to approximately 6% of the population of the state. These brave men and women served in the United States Armed Forces during World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Gulf Wars, and during peacetime. PA vets with disabilities may be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Veterans in Philadelphia may be eligible for a range of VA benefits, including disability benefits for service-connected and non-service-connected conditions, a VA pension, and survivors’ claims. The process of filing for these benefits can be confusing. At Bross & Frankel, we offer free claim reviews to all veterans to help them learn more about what benefits they may be entitled to under the law.
During the initial stages of the VA disability claims process, veterans cannot be represented by an attorney. However, if a dispute arises, our firm is happy to represent veterans through the appeals process. If you have an illness or injury related to your military service, a Philadelphia veterans disability benefits attorney can help you determine your eligibility for benefits and advocate for your rights.
Types of VA Disability Benefits
For veterans with disabilities, there are two main types of disability benefits offered by the VA: service-connected and non-service-connected. Eligibility for these benefits is based on your disability, how you became disabled, and your income and asset level.
Veterans who have a medical or mental health condition that was caused by or made worse by military service may qualify for service-connected disability benefits. These payments are based on a disability rating schedule, with potential ratings ranging from 0 to 100%. Both veterans and their qualified dependents may be eligible for this type of benefit.
A service-connected disability is a medical or physical health condition that either occurred or was aggravated during military service. Veterans can only receive this type of benefit if they separated from service in conditions other than dishonorable. Payments are based on the veteran’s disability and the severity of their symptoms of limitations, as expressed by a disability rating.
Any number of disabilities may qualify for VA benefits. This includes traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), exposure to chemical agents, hearing loss, back or neck injuries, and depression or anxiety. The injury does not necessarily have to have occurred during the line of duty if the condition began or was aggravated during active service.
Veterans with disabilities that are not connected to their service may be entitled to pension benefits if they served during a period of war. To qualify, a veteran must be 65 or older with limited or no income, or totally or permanently disabled, or a patient in a nursing facility, or receiving either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
Filing a Claim for Veterans Disability Benefits
Filing for VA benefits can be a complicated process. While it is designed to be user-friendly, the VA is a bureaucracy — which means that there are lots of forms and acronyms involved. A Philadelphia veterans’ disability benefits lawyer can advise you on how to proceed with your application before you start the process.
Once you file your claim, you can track it using an online tool offered by the VA. The agency will notify you once your claim has been received, and then will begin to review your claim and gather evidence. After a decision has been made, you will receive a notification in the mail.
It may take 3 months or longer to get a decision on your VA claim. The length of time to get a decision is based on factors such as the type of claim filed, whether it was filed, the number and complexity of disabilities claimed, and how long it takes for the VA to gather evidence from you, your healthcare providers, and government agencies.
If you disagree with any part of the VA’s decision, then you can file an appeal by (1) filing a supplemental claim with new evidence; (2) requesting a higher-level review; or (3) filing an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. With some exceptions, an appeal must be filed within a year of the date of the decision. If you do decide to appeal all or part of the decision (such as your impairment rating), then a disability benefits attorney can represent you in this process.
How We Can Help
If you are a veteran with a disability, you may be eligible for benefits from the VA — regardless of whether your condition is connected to your service. Applying for benefits can be challenging, particularly if you are already struggling with a physical or mental health condition. A lawyer can help you understand your options and represent you on any appeal of a VA decision.
At Bross & Frankel, we advocate for veterans throughout the state as they seek disability benefits. Even though we cannot represent vets at the initial stages of the process, we are happy to offer free claim reviews to veterans so they can learn about the benefits that they may be entitled to and how to file. If you are considering filing for VA benefits, reach out today at 856-795-8880 or email us to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.