For more than 25 years, we’ve all seen and read about the proliferation of deadly road side bombs during the ongoing wars in and around Iraq and Afghanistan.
The detonating Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and the subsequent vehicle crashes and head injuries became the primary cause of what is commonly known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
As a result, TBI became a signature “invisible wound of war” impacting the health hundreds of thousands of Veterans.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), TBI often results from a “blow or jolt to the head or an object penetrating the brain.”
As more is learned about the serious problems related to TBI, we now know it includes many more head injuries from earlier wars.
TBI may stem from IEDs, vehicle collisions, physical assaults, and training accidents while in the military. For more information about TBI, visit VA’s website.
Due to significant advances in medical training and diagnostic equipment, more Veterans survive serious blasts, collisions, assaults, and accidents.
The consequences of a TBI may be immediate, such head trauma, wounds, plus the loss of consciousness, vision, and hearing.
The impact may also be long-term, and appear months or years later. This includes headaches, dizziness, problems walking, fatigue, irritability, memory problems and problems paying attention, according to VA.
At Bergmann & Moore we understand the intricacy involved with TBI disability claims, and we work to get you the benefits you earned and deserve.
In many cases, physical conditions may overlap with mental health conditions, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric diagnoses.
Due to the severity of many TBI and polytrauma conditions, Veterans may also be eligible to receive additional VA benefits, including caregiver support and increased compensation.
We have helped hundreds of Veterans prevail on their TBI disability benefit claims because our staff knows the VA claims system well and we are trained to listen and care.
Bergmann & Moore remains dedicated to helping Veterans obtain the maximum benefits from VA. If you received a VA rating decision that denied benefits related to a TBI, then Bergmann & Moore may be able to assist you with this type of claim appeal. Please contact Bergmann & Moore for a FREE consultation.
There are two important and recent developments regarding TBI that Veterans and caregivers should know about:
In 2013, VA expanded TBI benefits based on scientific research. VA issued new benefit regulations for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, certain types of dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures or certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
In 2016, VA offered new TBI benefit exams after several news accounts revealed how VA gave inadequate compensation and pension exams for Veterans suffering from TBI.
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.