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Veterans’ Disability Q&A

March 28, 2012

We hope to answer some of your questions related to Veterans’ Disability. You can contact Ben Walters at Silver & Archibald for additional support and representation.

What is disability compensation and who qualifies for it?
You may be eligible for compensation if you were wounded, injured or became ill while on active duty in the Armed Forces. Pre-existing injuries or illnesses that were aggravated by military service are also covered. Although some service-connected disabilities show up during or soon after military service, many conditions don’t appear at all, or appear but are not too "disabling," until many years after you left the service.

How is the amount of disability compensation determined?
The amount of your disability compensation depends on the severity of your disability. When you apply for disability compensation, your medical records are reviewed. Usually, you have a VA medical examination. Your disability is rated and expressed as a percentage, on which your monthly payment is based. If you have dependents, an additional allowance may be added if your disability is more than 30 percent.

Can a veteran receive both VA and Social Security benefits?
Often, a veteran can receive both VA service-connected disability benefits and Social Security benefits. However, some types of VA and Social Security benefits are offset by receipt of the other.  It is important to speak with an attorney familiar with these areas of law to advise you on these issues.

Can a veteran work while receiving VA disability?
A veteran generally can still work when receiving VA disability. To receive individual unemployability or a 100 percent rating though, in most cases, a veteran cannot work full time or make over a certain amount of money per year -- generally anything above the poverty line. If you have questions about a claim for unemployability or if you are not able to work due to a disability incurred in service, call Ben Walters to set up an appointment to discuss these matters.

Can survivors receive benefits?
Yes, veterans’ benefits include what is called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). A surviving spouse, children under 18 and, in some situations, parents of veterans may be eligible for compensation when a veteran’s death results from a service-connected disability.

If my application for benefits is refused, can I appeal?
Like other federal benefits programs, decisions of the Veterans Administration concerning benefit eligibility can be appealed. However, before filing an appeal, it is important to speak with an attorney who can fully advise you of your rights. Veterans often lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in potential benefits because of an incorrectly filed appeal or by taking bad advice to refile a claim instead of an appeal.   If you have received a Rating Decision from the VA on a claim for disability compensation, it is important to speak with an attorney who can advise you of your full range of options.

Questions and answers provided by veteranslaw.com and military.com.