Veteran’s law is different from any other type of state or federal administrative law. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs only allows those lawyers who have successfully applied for accreditation to represent veterans in the Agency.
There are two basic types of benefits available through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. These are VA disability benefits and health benefits.
VA Disability benefits are monthly payments made to service men and women, and, in some cases, their families. For injuries that are caused by some service connected event, disability payments are made based on the degree of the injury. A serviceman does not have to be completely disabled to receive compensation benefits.
For servicemen who served in a period of war, the VA law allows a pension benefit, regardless of whether the disability was service connected. This benefit is income and asset tested and only applies to those wartime veterans who do not have significant income and assets.
Widows and widowers of deceased service may also be entilted to payments based on condition of their spouse. The VA law provides for a monthly payment where the cause of death was a service connected conditon or where the veteran was totally disabled because of a service connected condition for a long period of time before the death.
The VA provides extensive medical benefits for veterans, and, in some cases, for their families. These medical benefits are budgeted each year by Congress and individual entitlement is determined based on the budget made by Congress.
Making a Veterans Disability Claim
Congress designed the veterans’ claim process to be veterans’ friendly. As President Lincoln said the purpose of the DVA is “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” There is no time limit on when a claim can be brought. Congress recognized that, sometimes, an event that occurred in service may take many years to cause a disability. In these cases, the veteran is entitled to bring a claim no matter how long it has been since he got out of the service.
Just as important, a veteran has the right to reopen a claim that has already been denied by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. In order to get another chance at proving his claim, all the veteran needs to do is produce new and material evidence showing that his claim should be granted.
Retroactive Awards for Veterans Disability Claims
If you receive a favorable award from the VA, you should read the Rating Decision closely to make sure that you received all the benefits to which you are entitled. Specifically, you should closely scrutinize these parts of the Rating Decision: the award of service connection, the degree of disability granted, and the effective date of the award.
In some cases, your award may have an effective date that could go back for decades. When this happens, the VA is required to pay you all of the benefits you would have received over the years. This could result in a very large award of money.
When you get a rating decision, you should have the decision reviewed by an attorney to make sure that you not only got the right rating but also that the award was started granted with the correct effective date.