There are 819,185 veterans living in Pennsylvania — the fourth highest number in the United States. Of these veterans, 125,847 currently receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If you are a veteran and have a disability, you may also qualify for disability benefits.
Depending on your situation, you may qualify for a number of VA benefits, such as disability benefits for service-connected and non-service-connected conditions, a VA pension, and survivors’ claims. In the initial stages of applying, veterans cannot be represented by an attorney. However, the team at Bross & Frankel is happy to offer free consultations for all veterans, where we explain the process of applying for benefits and advise veterans about the benefits that they may be entitled to under the law.
If a dispute arises after the VA makes a decision on your application, you can appeal in one of three ways. A Philadelphia veterans disability benefits attorney can help you file an appeal, and work with you to achieve the most favorable possible resolution to your claim.
What Types of Disability Benefits Does the VA Offer?
The VA offers two primary types of disability benefits for veterans with disabilities. First, veterans with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for disability benefits. Second, veterans whose disabilities are not connected to their service may qualify for a VA pension benefit.
Service-connected disability benefits are available for veterans who have a medical or mental health condition that was either caused by or made worse by their military service. The payments for these benefits are based on a disability rating schedule, with veterans receiving a rating of 0 to 100% based on their level of disability. For example, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will receive a rating based on the severity of their symptoms and how the condition affects their life.
These benefits are payable to both veterans and their qualified dependents, provided that the veteran was discharged in conditions other than dishonorable. There is a range of conditions that may qualify a veteran for service-connected disability benefits, from sleep apnea to exposure to toxic chemicals to hearing loss to PTSD and other mental health conditions. If the condition began or was made worse during active military service, it will likely qualify as a service-connected disability, even if it did not occur during the line of duty.
Pension benefits are available for veterans with disabilities that are not connected to service, provided they meet certain criteria. To qualify, a veteran must have served during a period of war, and 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. If you have questions about whether you may qualify for a VA pension, consult with a Philadelphia veterans disability benefits attorney.
How to File for VA Benefits
The VA designed its claims process to be user-friendly — but that doesn’t mean that filing a claim for disability benefits through the VA is easy or straightforward. As with other government agencies, the VA uses lots of acronyms and requires applicants to file specific forms within a certain time frame. If you have questions about how to file, a lawyer can help you understand the process.
To file a claim, you will need to gather evidence of your disability to support your application. Typically, this will include medical records and statements from family, friends, and others. You will then submit this evidence along with your application form.
Claims can be filed online, by mail, or in person. Once you have filed your claim, you can track its status using the VA’s online tool. On average, it takes 105.9 days for the VA to reach a decision after you file a claim. You will receive notification of the decision by mail.
If you disagree with all or part of the VA’s decision, then you can file an appeal. This can be done by:
- Filing a supplemental claim with new evidence;
- Requesting a higher-level review;
- Filing an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
In most cases, you will need to file this appeal within one year of the date of the decision. The appeals process can be confusing, particularly if you are unsure of what to file or how to file it. A Philadelphia disability benefits attorney can advise you of your rights and help you make a decision about the best way to proceed.
Consult with a Philadelphia Veterans Disability Attorney
The brave men and women who have served our country deserve to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. This is particularly true when it comes to veterans with disabilities. If you are a veteran with a disability, we can help you get the benefits that you are entitled to based on your service to our country.
For more than 20 years, Bross & Frankel has helped veterans throughout the Philadelphia metro area with their disability benefits claims. At a free claim review, we will counsel you on your options and help you understand the process. If you are a veteran who is interested in filing for VA disability benefits, contact us today at (215) 545-5990 or email us at any time to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.