I wish I knew then what I know now; 5 pieces of advice for any Veteran starting a disability claim
A new batch of employees started with our firm today. As they walked into our training room, a classic Toby Keith song popped into my head. It made me think of the VA Disability process. You are probably wondering what a man’s affinity for a certain brand of red cups has to do VA Disability…it’s not that song! The lyrics I had in my head were: “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then, I wish I could start this whole thing over again.” While that song pertains to love and more, the lyrics can really pertain to any situation involving an uncertain future. I will actually disagree with Mr. Keith though; I wish I did know it all from the beginning. Any Veteran who has struggled with a VA Disability claim will probably agree that there are a lot of things they wish they knew when they started. They may have been a little naïve at the beginning, and wish they still felt that way about the process, but they are now wiser for going through it. So here are 5 things a Service Connected Veteran would have likely wanted to know when he started.
- “Time heals everything, but I’m still waiting:” It is a long process. Even with all of the national coverage regarding the VA backlog, we still have new VA clients who think that this won’t take very long. It’s unfortunately not true. It’s likely going to be anywhere from 2-5 years.
- “I’m not ready to make nice:” You are likely going to get upset at some point, it that is totally natural. We understand your frustration. If you served your country, were injured in the process and now are getting denials, it makes perfect sense to get upset. In fact, as attorneys and employees who work in this process, it upsets us too.
- “Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about?” You will likely feel alone when going through this process. However, you are not. The reason the VA is so backed up is that there are so many Veterans filing for claims. When it comes to mental disabilities especially Veterans tend to feel closed off from society. Seek help for these issues. There are great organizations, like Steel City Vets, that are there to help Veterans connect with other Veterans.
- “I’m gonna be ready this time:” Hiring an attorney will help you with the stress of dealing with a claim. I tend to be a pretty independent person. However, when it comes to really big life events, I like having the help of someone who has been through it before. In a VA claim, there is a ton of confusing paperwork. Also, hearings have to be attended, and deadlines can’t be passed up. With all of this, plus dealing with your disability, you may feel overwhelmed. Most Veterans, who have hired an attorney, will tell you how beneficial it is for their case.
- “I’m ready to run:” Even if you want to give up, don’t. Too often we see Veteran’s claims that have closed because they were just tired of the process. I just spoke with Heather, one of our VA Attorneys, and she spoke of a Veteran who had a claim pending since 2005 was just granted. If he was just granted at 10% for a condition that dated back to 2005 he could possibly get at least $10,000 in back pay.
If you are just starting out, and would like to know more about what an attorney can do for you, or if you find yourself struggling with the VA, give us a call for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. Or, fill out this form, and we will give you a call.