Let’s talk about some essential items to consider when filing a VA disability claim. We speak to clients frequently who do not understand why the VA has not compensated them for the injuries they have reported. They might be a few years post-military service, and they have a long list of ailments they have reported to their local VA. Yet they are still perplexed as to why their claim is continually denied.
There are three things the VA MUST SEE before they will award you compensation.
Service Connection – The injury occurred in service, or your military service exacerbated it
Medical Diagnosis – You cannot just hop on WebMD and self-diagnosis. A diagnosis must be reported to your primary care doctor OR documented in your military service medical records
Life Impact – How does that disability impact you today? What can you not do today that you could before?
Now let’s take a few moments to break these items down, to help you understand the bureaucratic process that is the VA.
This is the first item that needs to be established. What does the service connection mean? Simply put, it means that at some point in your military service, you reported that injury.
Whether it is your back or your knees, you went to medical and reported some pain or issue. If you did not report it the injury/pain in service frankly, you do not have service connection. Alternatively, you hurt yourself in service, and you have some record of it. Now not all hope is lost if you do not have something in your records, we can talk about ways to establish service connection later.
If you already have a service connection, that will be a big part of what the VA considers your medical diagnosis. This part will apply more to you veterans who left service years ago and are now working on filing a winning claim.
You have established your service connection, so now your next step is that official diagnosis. It would be best if you started reporting it to your current primary care doctor. Even before you finish reading this, stop and call your doctor and get it reported! It is that important. Did you know that according to the rating table for migraines out of the CFR-38, that if you have “prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month” that you would be rated 30% for migraines? Yeah, it is time to get those migraines reported!
How does this disability impact you today? I talk to many veterans who are frustrated with the VA not compensating them for their knee or back pain. Let’s be honest here; the VA does not really care about your pain. That might sound harsh, but truthfully pain is relative, and there is no way to quantify it.
What the VA does measure is the range of motion (ROM). When you have a C&P exam, the VA measures how far you can bend and extend your knee. If you have lost range of motion in your knee, that will have an impact on what you can do today. Be specific when talking about life impact; they know it hurts. They need to see what you cannot do today that you could do previously. Were you an avid runner before your military service? Perhaps you cannot even walk for 20 minutes today. Now, that is a specific life impact.
If you can answer the criteria for these three items above, you will be able to file a winning claim.
Do not focus on just one thing; many veterans do that. They are only focused on getting compensation for their knees or back issues, but they have no way to establish service connection. Reach out to us here at VA Claims Insider; there is likely a disability that you suffer from that meets the above criteria that you are currently overlooking!
Stewart Simons is apart of the VA Claims Insider Team and a Navy disabled Veteran. You can contact him at [email protected]