If you were injured in the course of serving our country, you may be eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This disability compensation is meant to cover any reduction in income and offset the medical costs associated with pursuing treatment, but you can only receive this by making a disability claim. The process of achieving a successful disability claim can be complicated, and it’s crucial that you understand the process in its entirety so that you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.
There Will Be Costs Associated With Pursuing a Claim
There are many factors that go into whether your claim is approved, but one of the most significant elements is proving that the disability was caused by your military service. The best way to do this is by having a physician provide their medical opinion that your condition is related to an event that occurred during your service, also known as a nexus statement. However, you must know that attaining these letters isn’t free: you’ll need to visit a physician, sometimes multiple physicians, and get a full examination. These costs can range from just $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on the specialty.
You will also need to file additional paperwork for certain medical conditions, such as PTSD, with proper documentation of its cause.
You May Have a Reduction in Other Government Benefits
If you receive other benefits from the government, such as SNAP, TANF, or Social Security, you may receive a reduction in your compensation in proportion to how much you’re receiving from your VA disability benefits.
These other agencies will inform you ahead of time if your benefits will be reduced, which will typically occur shortly after your disability claim is approved. However, some agencies may only review a person’s eligibility on a biyearly or yearly basis, so you should check with them ahead of time and explain that you have been approved for VA disability.
You should note that a successful claim will almost always ensure that you’re enrolled in VA healthcare, and you can have both Medicaid and VA healthcare at the same time. These systems do not work together; you need to check what’s covered by Medicaid and what is covered by VA health insurance.
VA Disability Compensation is Tax-Free
Fortunately, you won’t have to pay federal taxes on your VA disability compensation. Just like workers compensation, this income is tax-exempt, ensuring that you can keep as much of it as possible.
This refers to the federal level, but different states have different rules regarding what taxes can be imposed on VA disability benefits. You’ll need to carefully check the legislation around VA disability in your particular state to ensure that you won’t owe anything.
The VA May Reevaluate Your Case and Reduce Your Benefits
The Department of Veterans Affairs occasionally reassesses benefits for veterans and will determine whether they should receive a reduction in their disability compensation. Every veteran who is on disability gets a rating, and this may move up or down upon reassessment or appeal.
This is more common for conditions that may theoretically improve, such as PTSD. They will request updated medical information from you and identify whether there has been a noted improvement and, if so, how much compensation you still require.
If you are in treatment for your medical condition and there is an expectation of improvement, be aware that the VA may determine that you no longer qualify for the same amount of care. You may also have your benefits removed entirely, depending on your prognosis. If you don’t report life changes that may affect your eligibility, you may have a further reduction in your benefits in order to pay back the overpayment.
Work With a VA Claims Coach to Better Understand the Process
If you’re struggling with navigating the disability claims process, you can connect with a VA claims consultant, who will help guide you through each step of applying, being approved, or appealing a denial.
These agencies are generally veteran-owned and provide helpful resources to veterans working to get disability, including referrals to specialists who can provide nexus statements to support the veteran’s claim. They will provide clarification and ensure that you have everything you need to apply. If you’re denied, you can appeal, and these consultants will help you get the necessary documentation in order to do so.
VA benefits can provide much-needed compensation to those who are facing a short-term or permanent disability as a result of their service, but there are drawbacks and particulars that every veteran must know about. Researching the process and working with a coach can ensure that you’re fully aware of what to expect from your claim, including its impact on other benefits and the possibility of reassessment.