Yesterday I received a call from a young lady asking me about Veterans Disability Benefits. She had never applied before and asked me if the VA had a “statute of limitations” for applying for benefits. My first thought was that she must either be a perspective law student or a fan of Law and Order. Then I realized I receive this question a lot, and this young Veteran brought up a good point; is there a time limit to apply for VA Disability Benefits? Unlike most things in the VA, this is actually a simple answer. No, there is no time limit to apply for benefits. If I stop there, then this may be the shortest blog I’ve written. However, one of the things I like most about Veterans is that they love the details, so I’ll elaborate.
The young lady I talked to wasn’t wrong to think that there would be a limit to applying for benefits. After all, I can’t sue the driver of another car nine years after my accident because my back started hurting. Things are different with the VA. Just last week I signed up a World War II Vet. Even the worst history students can tell you that WWII was more than a few years ago.
The question must then be asked “Why are there no limitations.” First of all, until recently, most Veterans weren’t even aware that they could apply for VA disability benefits. In fact, the main reason why we set up this blog was to educate Veterans about the benefits that are available. Also, some conditions do not develop right away. For instance, Agent Orange presumptive conditions often don’t show up until later in life, and mental disabilities, like PTSD, are not always apparent at the time of discharge.
I know the next question I will get is about physical disabilities. This is one of the issues we have trouble with the most. Any physical injury must either be shown in the service treatment records or be well documented, and treated, in the time since leaving the military. For instance, Vietnam ended in 1975, which is close to 40 years ago. We often have Veterans who wish to apply for conditions like their knees or back that served during this time but didn’t seek treatment in service or until many years after service. We will often ask: “What did you do after you left the military? The answer is often something physically demanding. If you were a coal miner for 30 years after the military, and never sought treatment for a knee problem until many years after service, the chances of you getting service-connected benefits for the knee are slim.
This really just touches on the issues of service connection. To learn more, give our office a call today for a free phone consultation, or fill out our form, and we’ll give you a call right back.