A common disability rating for Veteran Disability Claims is 100% permanent and total (P&T). This type of rating can be based on a variety of factors.
The most crucial factor is evidence of a nexus between the current medical condition and an in-service event or aggravation. Without this link, the veteran can’t receive benefits.
A veteran’s service-connected disability compensation can be based on a physical injury, illness, or mental health issue such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Generally, a diagnosis in the medical records is needed to establish the condition was “incurred” during military service.
Evidence is often difficult to gather, but it can be very effective. For example, when it comes to PTSD, witness testimony from those who served with the veteran and witnessed the traumatic event can be very helpful in establishing that a link exists between the occurrence of the traumatic event and the veteran’s current PTSD.
Other conditions that can be established through direct service connection are musculoskeletal issues, such as limitation of knee flexion, respiratory disorders due to exposure to airborne toxins, and other issues related to the eyes or ears, such as hearing loss or tinnitus. The VA rates these disabilities from 0% to 100%, with higher ratings indicating more severe disabling conditions.
Sometimes, medical illnesses, conditions, or injuries create secondary health issues that require claims for VA disability compensation. An experienced veteran law firm like Berry Law specializes in veteran disability claims and can help develop what is known as a bulletproof claim. For example, a veteran exposed to Agent Orange might develop diabetes, which causes additional problems, such as peripheral neuropathy or vascular disease, and requires ongoing medical treatment.
Mental VA disability secondary conditions can include anxiety disorders like PTSD that can trigger sleep problems such as sleep apnea. Also, physical secondary conditions may include pre-existing medical problems caused by service-connected disabilities. For instance, a knee injury from military service could exacerbate an existing back problem. The VA will want statements from your medical providers to establish a link between your primary service-connected disability and the secondary condition. This is called a nexus letter. A nexus letter will increase your chances of having your new condition approved for service connection.
Many veterans with disabilities may not realize they need reasonable accommodations for work. Some hesitate to discuss their condition because they fear discrimination, while others do not know the options available to them under USERRA.
The USERRA and ADA laws require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for disabled veterans. This includes reassigning a vacant position when an employer believes the disability will prevent a veteran from substantially gainful employment.
Some common particular disabilities that affect veterans are back and neck pain, hearing loss (including tinnitus), and migraines. These problems relate to service experiences such as working around jet and engine noise, exposure to grenade blasts, gunfire, artillery, prolonged walking, and heavy equipment. PTSD is also often a service-connected disability, and psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety are usually presumptive for VA benefits. Moreover, stress or other factors can aggravate or worsen many of these conditions.
Many veterans are not aware that they can receive disability benefits for conditions that are not related to their military service. These benefits are known as non-service connected pension or veteran’s pension, and they are available for qualifying veterans who meet specific service and income requirements.
Generally, most veterans receiving disability compensation are not prohibited from working. However, veterans with a 100% TDIU rating are only allowed to work full-time if they have an individual VA statement stating that their condition prevents them from maintaining substantial gainful employment.