Unemployed Disabled Veterans Frustrated With VA Disability Appeal System
Veterans are literally dying while waiting for VA disability decisions.
By: Woods & Woods, LLP
The first hurdle for veterans applying and appealing is getting through the VA unemployability requirements and income limits. The second hurdle is the archaic Veterans Benefits Administration. Throughout the application and appeals process, claims are sent back down the chain to gather more evidence or for remands. The VA has unveiled RAMP, which is supposedly going to streamline the appeal process. Most veterans are taking a wait-and-see approach to joining this new program.
Veterans who cannot work may be eligible to receive both TDIU and SSDI benefits. Veterans who cannot work from disabilities would be wise to apply for both benefits at the same time. It is likely your SSDI claim will be approved before your VA claim. Veterans can also receive SSDI benefits with a normal, non-TDIU rating. For example, you can receive both 100% VA disability and Social Security Disability at the same time as well.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) was painfully slow in the late 1990s. Through years of reform, the SSA now processes disability claims relatively quickly. The VA would be smart to take a look at what has worked in the SSA and implement many of their reforms.
We have recently seen a lot of PTSD denials for veterans that can't work. VA TDIU ratings for PTSD are obtainable if you can prove your PTSD, other mental conditions, and other physical conditions prevent you from working and you must meet the requirements for the severity and number of conditions too. Recently we have seen lots of denials for veterans wishing to receive a 100% permanent and total (P&T) PTSD rating. The VA believes through treatment, PTSD is a mental condition that will improve over time. You can overcome this by first being eligible and second presenting strong evidence to the VA.
Most veterans do not win their PTSD VA disability benefits claims in a short period of time. The application process has sped up in recent years, but that has been followed by a huge backlog in appeal cases.
Veterans that were denied and wish to prove a service-connected disability will have to go through the appeals process.The VA disability appeal success rate varies greatly depending upon who is handling your claim, what DRO is looking at your claim, and largely upon the strength of your evidence. You can improve your chances of winning a VA disability appeal by having great evidence, experienced assistance, legal research, case law, and patience. While you cannot make the VA move faster, you can get your claim done right the first time and skip many processes by doing so.