How Does Someone Know If They Qualify for VA Benefits?

by Nov 30, 2018Disability Benefits

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sets specific eligibility requirements for VA disability. You must have served in the military and not received a dishonorable, other than honorable, or bad conduct discharge.

You must have an illness or injury that appears in the VA’s handbook of disabling medical conditions. And there must be a “nexus,” or a cause-and-effect link, between an event in your military service and your condition.

If you think you may qualify for VA disability benefits, a VA benefits lawyer can help. Contact the Disability Advantage Group at 865-566-0800 for a free evaluation of your benefits case.

Military Service Requirements to Receive VA Disability Benefits

For you to qualify for VA disability benefits, your military service must meet certain requirements. You must have served on active duty, on active duty training, or in training for inactive duty in one of the four branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard.

If you served in the U.S. National Guard, you are eligible for VA disability only if you were called into service in a war or national disaster situation. If you were in the reserves of any military branch, you may qualify for VA disability if you were called into active duty service at any time.

Medical Requirements to Receive VA Disability Benefits

The VA requires you to meet three criteria to qualify for disability on a medical basis:

  • You have a diagnosis of an illness or injury considered disabling by the VA.
  • You experienced a specific event during your military service.
  • There is a nexus (direct link) between the event and your diagnosis.

Disabling Illness or Injury

Your diagnosed medical condition must be one that the VA considers disabling. The VA maintains a handbook of illnesses and injuries that qualify for disability. If your condition does not appear in the handbook, the burden is on you to prove to the VA that it disables you to the same degree as a listed condition.

Event During Your Military Service

You also must identify a specific event during your military service that led to injury, trauma, or otherwise affected you on a long-term basis.

Nexus Between the Two

Most importantly, you have to demonstrate a nexus, or cause-and-effect link, between the event and your diagnosis. Specifically, you must demonstrate that your current disabling condition likely resulted from the event in your service.

How Much Does VA Pay in Disability Benefits

VA disability payments vary substantially. This is because recipients do not all have the same degree of disability. Unlike Social Security, which requires total disability to qualify for benefits, the VA gives benefits to veterans with a wide range of illnesses and injuries, running the gamut from totally disabling to slightly disabling.

The VA assigns you an impairment rating when it approves you for benefits. This rating, ranging from 0% to 100% in increments of 10%, puts a number on your level of disability and determines your monthly compensation. The VA disability pay scale as of 2018 is:

  • 0% rating: $0 per month (but eligible for free VA healthcare and other perks)
  • 10% rating: $140.05 per month    
  • 20% rating: $276.84 per month    
  • 30% rating: $428.83 per month    
  • 40% rating: $617.73 per month    
  • 50% rating: $879.36 per month    
  • 60% rating: $1,113.86 per month    
  • 70% rating: $1,403.71 per month    
  • 80% rating: $1,631.69 per month    
  • 90% rating: $1,833.62 per month    
  • 100% rating: $3,057.13 per month

A 100% impairment rating signifies full disability. In order to receive this rating, you must be unable to sustain meaningful, gainful employment and unable to perform most daily living activities on your own (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing).

On the other end of the scale, a 0% rating is for veterans with conditions that are transient, intermittent, or that do not materially affect their lives on a day-to-day basis.

Also important to note is that unless the VA grants you the designation of permanently and totally disabled, your impairment rating, and thus your compensation, can change over time.

The VA reserves the right to evaluate you at any time to determine if a rating change is necessary. If you have received notice that the VA is planning to review your case, you should speak with a disability lawyer right away.

Benefits of Working With A VA Disability Lawyer

A VA disability lawyer can help you apply for and receive disability benefits. Working with an attorney offers several benefits. One, an accomplished disability lawyer will have fought and won dozens of VA cases in their career.

They will know how to put together a strong claim for benefits. Two, VA disability lawyers work on contingency, meaning they do not get paid until you do. There is no financial risk in having attorney representation.

Call 865-566-0800 for a Free VA Disability Case Evaluation From the Disability Advantage Group

You can receive a free, no-risk, no-obligation VA disability case evaluation from the Disability Advantage Group. Our law firm is passionate about helping disabled veterans collect the benefits they deserve for their service and sacrifice. We are eager to hear from you and determine how we can help you. For a free disability consultation, call us at 865-566-0800.