Veterans Disability Benefits
Legal assistance is provided to military Veterans after their claims for service connected disability benefits have been denied. Qualified family members are also assisted in obtaining various benefits after the death of the Veteran.
There are no initial costs to hire the Walus Law Group to represent you in the pursuit of your service connected disability benefits. The payment of legal fees is only made if the previously denied claim is approved by the VA. The VA will pay the attorney 20% of the back due benefits that are awarded to the Veteran. The VA computes the amount of back due benefits by taking into consideration when the claim was filed, the date the claim was approved, and the level of disability decided upon by the VA. Each level of disability is paid at a different monthly rate. The VA computes the number of months between the date the claim was filed and the date the claim was approved. It multiplies the number of months times the disability rate to arrive at the total amount of back due benefits payable to the Veteran. 20% of that amount is paid to the Attorney Representative. The Attorney has no claim on future benefits payable to the Veteran.
I can assist you in proving your claim. I will analyze your case and determine what evidence is missing, what duties the VA owes you, and whether the VA has made any errors in deciding your claim. During our initial meeting, I will attempt to determine whether or not there is a possibility that I can assist you in getting your denied claim approved. There are three factors that must be present to get a claim for service connected disability benefits approved: 1) a current disability; 2) evidence that the Veteran suffered an injury or showed signs of a symptom of disease while on active duty; or, an aggravation of a pre-existing disease or injury while on active duty or shortly afterward; 3) a link, or nexus, between the current disability and the in-service disease, injury, or event.
“A current diagnosis” means just that – you have to be diagnosed with the injury or disease that you want to file a claim for. Let’s use Diabetes Mellitus Type II (DMII) as an example. You have to be currently diagnosed with, and be treated for, DMII to file a claim for that disease. This is verified by reviewing the Veterans’ current medical records. Let’s presume the Veteran has a valid diagnosis of DMII. The next step in the analysis of the claim is to review the Veterans’ service medical records (SMR) to see if there is a diagnosis and treatment for DMII while the Veteran was on active duty. If there is proof of diagnosis and treatment on active duty, all that’s left to do is to establish the link between active duty and current diagnosis. But what if there is no proof of either while on active duty? There are ways to attempt to establish the service connected nature of the current diagnosis, but it is exceedingly difficult to do and lessens the chances for success. I can explain the process to you and work to obtain the benefits you deserve.
If your claim has only been denied one time, an appeal needs to be initiated by filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of the date of denial. If the NOD is filed after the year expires, the claim is closed and a new claim will have to be filed. In essence, the clock starts over. Jurisdiction remains with the Regional Office (RO) that made the initial decision. You can request that your claim be reviewed by a Reviewing Officer and you can also request a hearing with that officer. If your claim gets denied a second time, a Statement of the Case will be prepared detailing why the claim was denied. If the decision is made to continue the Appellate process, a VA Form 9 must be filed within 60 days of the second denial. If the Form 9 is filed after 60 days, the claim is closed and a new claim will have to be filed. At this stage of the claim, the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA) assumes jurisdiction over the claim after receipt of the Form 9.
The BVA will review the claim to ensure the propriety of the decision made by the RO. Additional evidence and legal argument can be submitted for their review and consideration. A hearing can be requested with an Administrative Law Judge. If the BVA denies your claim, the next level of appeal is with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
The CAVC is a Federal District Court and it has exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions of the BVA. It is not a part of the VA. A separate appeal must be filed with the CAVC in order for the benefit claim to continue. It is important for the Veteran to act promptly because the appeal must be filed with the CAVC not later than 120 days after the BVA made their final decision. It is important to understand that the decision-making process is different because the CAVC is not a part of the VA. While the claim is under the jurisdiction of the VA, the process is considered to be non-adversarial. The VA has what is known as a duty to assist the Veteran to obtain his/her benefits. It is not a requirement to have an attorney represent you during this stage of the process. However, that all changes once a claim is appealed to the CAVC. The process becomes what is known as adversarial and it is required that an attorney represent you before the CAVC.
There are benefits that are available for the survivors of deceased Veterans. These benefits include accrued benefits, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), death compensation, death pension, and other benefits. If these benefits have been applied for and denied, it is best to contact this office to determine if the denied claim has a chance for success on appeal.