Some servicemembers come from a military family and want to follow the example set by their parents or grandparents. Others may end up fast-tracked toward military service because they attend certain high schools or colleges. There are also some people who look at military service as a means of developing career skills or securing financial support during college.
Those who pursue a career in the military may find themselves unable to continue their chosen profession because of health challenges. Thankfully, the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) offers disability benefits to those with health conditions related to their service that affect their income.
What do workers need to know about VA disability benefits?
They apply to both physical and mental disabilities
Those with the most straightforward disability claims often have obvious physical injuries. Perhaps they suffered an injury that left them in a wheelchair or required the amputation of a body part. Maybe they have a traumatic brain injury due to an explosion or a car crash.
Physical injuries can help someone qualify for VA disability benefits. The VA will also review claims based on mental disabilities. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions that develop because of someone’s service can impair their ability to work and thereby qualify them for disability benefits. Receiving treatment from VA medical facilities will create a verifiable chain of medical records that can help someone show the impact of their condition to obtain benefits.
The benefits depend on someone’s rating
Disability benefits are typically a regular cash payment made to someone who cannot work or who has limits on their earning potential because of a service-related disability. The disability evaluation process will look at different conditions and determine how much they impair someone’s function. The VA provides disability ratings in 10% increments. An individual with multiple different conditions can combine the disability rating for each condition to maximize they receive. For example, someone with PTSD and an injury to their knee could receive benefits based on the combined disability rating of those two conditions.
Appeals are often necessary
With the volume of cases coming through the VA, not everyone receives the attention and consideration they deserve. Occasionally, servicemembers will need to appeal an unfavorable decision to connect with the benefits that they deserve. The appeals process can be even more stressful and challenging than the initial application process.
Learning the basics about VA disability benefits and seeking legal guidance when applying for these key benefits can make a big difference to a servicemember with a medical condition affecting their income.