Veterans often call Bergmann & Moore and ask questions about how to get service-connected by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for their disability compensation benefits claim.
Service connection is often referred to as getting a claim granted, winning a claim, or prevailing on a claim.
Veterans who suffered injuries, wounds, and illnesses while serving in the military want to know how to quickly obtain service connection because it opens the door to VA disability payments and healthcare.
Types of Service Connection
VA’s rules for winning service connection are complicated because there are five different ways a Veteran may obtain service connection:
Secondary Service Connection
Presumptive Service Connection
Service Connection for an Aggravated, Pre-Existing Condition
Service Connection Caused by VA Treatment or Vocational Rehabilitation
Because there are five ways for a Veteran to be granted service connection, and because each has a distinct set of lengthy rules, finding an advocate in order to navigate VA’s claims process is vital.
No Time Limit to File Claim
Veterans frequently ask about time limits to file a VA claim. Under the law, there is no time lime to file a claim against VA.
In most cases, medical conditions are straightforward, such as when a Veteran was hurt or became ill during service. In that situation, a Veteran usually files a claim at the end of military service or shortly thereafter.
However, many Veterans don’t begin suffering medical symptoms until several years after service. In that case, a Veteran can still file a VA claim several years later.
For example, the cancers and conditions associated with exposure hazardous toxins such as Agent Orange didn’t appear in Vietnam or other contaminated areas. The cancers often appear decades after returning home from a war zone or exposure.
Similarly, illnesses related to hazardous exposures during the Gulf War, to open burn pits in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, or asbestos on Navy ships take years to appear.
Mental Health Conditions
For many more Veterans, mental health conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety can develop several years or decades after military service due to psychological trauma.
This can be true for Veterans who deployed to a war zone, suffered military sexual trauma, or were involved a training accident where the symptoms emerge year later.
Bergmann & Moore in Action
Understanding VA’s complex regulations for establishing service connection can be a challenge for Veterans and families. Bergmann & Moore has helped hundreds of Veterans prevail on their disability benefit claims because our staff knows the VA claims system well and we are trained to listen and care.
Free Retroactive Benefits Consultation
Bergmann & Moore remains dedicated to helping Veterans obtain the maximum benefits from VA. If you received a VA rating decision that denied service connection for one or more conditions, then Bergmann & Moore may be able to assist you with this type of claim appeal. Please contact Bergmann & Moore for a FREE consultation.
Agent Orange Exposure
One specific disease, Glioblastoma Multiforme, is a type of malignant brain tumor, often found in veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during service. However, VA has not yet acknowledged that these tumors are due to Agent Orange exposure and therefore they are not on VA’s presumptive list. Sadly, when a veteran passes away from a non-presumptive condition such as Glioblastoma, their surviving spouse is often unable to obtain benefits on their own.
Burn Pit Exposure
Bergmann & Moore recognizes that many veterans from the Gulf War era, Operating Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation New Dawn (OND), and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) may have been exposed to hazardous materials that were burned as a form of waste management.
The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) provides Veterans with five options on what to do when you receive a Board denial. In our experience there is only ONE reasonable option—appeal the BVA decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals to Veterans Claims (CAVC).
Dependency and Indemnity Claims
In the event a veteran passes away, their surviving family members may be entitled to benefits from the VA. Most commonly, this would be the Veteran’s surviving spouse. In order to qualify for DIC benefits, the surviving spouse must show that the Veteran died from a condition or illness related to the veteran’s military service. In some cases, veterans may have already been service connected for the condition that caused their death. In other cases, the surviving spouse is required to prove that the cause of death, if not already service-connected, was due to the veteran’s service.
Even veterans who aren’t rated 100-percent disabled may be eligible to be paid at the 100-percent monetary rate. VA awards individual unemployability, often referred to as total disability for individual unemployability (TDIU), when a veteran’s service connected conditions prohibit him or her from maintaining gainful employment. This benefit is separate from Social Security Disability Income.
Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual assaults occur with both men and women and often go unreported. Many Veterans believe they do not qualify for Veterans’ benefits for military sexual trauma if they did not report the assault when it happened, but that is not true. There is no time limit for a Veteran to file a claim for a military sexual trauma, even if it is decades later.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also referred to as posttraumatic stress or posttraumatic stress syndrome, is caused by experiencing a traumatic event. Even though the event has passed, many people continue to experience symptoms for months or even years afterward.
Once VA grants service connection for a disability, they then assign a rating based on the severity of the condition. The rating assigned correlates with a monetary amount to be paid monthly. In most cases, the veteran is compensated retroactively back to the effective date of the claim. This means that VA must pay the monthly amount for the disability for each month the claim was open, usually awarded in a lump sum, in addition to the monthly benefits going forward.
Veterans who were injured while in the military, or who aggravated those injuries while in the military, may be eligible for disability compensation. In some cases, compensation claims injuries are immediately obvious, such as when a service member is physically injured while on active duty. Other times, veterans don’t experience symptoms until many years after service, such as in the form of a mental health condition or cancer due to exposure of hazardous materials like Agent Orange, Burn Pits, or Asbestos.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
If a veteran sustains a head injury or full body injury during their military service, there may be longstanding effects known as residuals of a traumatic brain injury. Many veterans are unaware that they’ve even sustained a TBI because they didn’t lose consciousness during the event. Anything from a mild concussion to being thrown in an explosion may constitute a TBI.