In sports, preparation is the key. Knowing what to do and how to do it gives a team an edge in obtaining its goal: winning. Most games are won or lost before the first play. They are won on the practice field. The same is true when pursuing a claim for Veterans Benefits. Once the claim is filed, it is difficult to scramble and try to obtain all the evidence needed to win. If you are thinking of filing a claim for Veterans Benefits, go ahead and take the time to gather the needed information.
- Get all of your records: military personnel records, medical records while in service, and medical records since discharge.
- Make sure you have a current diagnosis for whatever you are claiming. Make sure it is documented.
- Check your personnel records and in-service medical records to make sure your claimed impairment was diagnosed, or that you complained of related symptoms, while in service.
- Check your in-service records and personnel records to make sure all of your pertinent records are in the file. If they are not, try to obtain the records. For example, if you had surgery while in service but do not see the records in your file, try to get the records to submit when you file your claim.
- Talk to your doctor to find out if he or she would be willing to review your in-service and post-discharge medical records and opine whether your impairments are as likely as not related.
- Be ready to call on your former service mates to draft a letter stating that they witnessed the symptoms of your alleged impairments.
Taking steps before a claim is filed can make the claims process much smoother. If you are thinking of filing a claim for Veterans Benefits, you might want to consider meeting with an attorney who specializes in Veterans claims to help you navigate the VA minefield.