The Right Way, and The Wrong Way, to File VA Disability Claims
I really like cars. Because of that I also happen to really enjoy car racing. As a child of the 80’s one of my first experiences with auto racing involved a little film called “Days of Thunder.” Released in 1990, this film centered on the increasingly popular sport of NASCAR. The stars were a young Tom Cruise and his eventual wife, then ex-wife, Nicole Kidman. The film also featured a ton of product placement. Unfortunately I don’t have time to go into the details about how this is the real reason I liked the film. Instead, I want to focus on how the character of Cole Trickle had two different approaches to racing, and how this is much like how many individuals representing attorneys approach VA Disability claims. I know it’s a long way to go just for an example, but this blog is popular for a reason.
In the beginning of the film Cole approaches racing flat out. He throws caution to the wind and does not care about the consequences. This results in a lot of crashes and conflict along the way. He fails to win a race with this approach. Many representatives approach VA Disability claims the same way. Veterans Disability is very complicated. Not everyone who can represent a Veteran for a claim understands how the process is so nuanced. This results in a lot of awful claims being filed that have little to no chance of getting service connected. For instance; I have seen some individuals who served for two years during a non-combat period with more than 30 claims. Is this possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? That answer is no. Unless you had some horrible accident in which you were severely injured, or spent every day of those two years in the sick bay, most of those claims aren’t valid.
An area in which we see a lot of invalid claims involves PTSD. In the past week I had two separate individuals who served in peace time claim PTSD. If you have read my previous blog entries then you know that it is possible to file a claim for PTSD for Veterans who are non-combat, and be successful. However, you have to have a valid stressor. The two PTSD claims that I did not take did not have valid stressors. (They also did not have a diagnosis for PTSD from a doctor.) One of the Veterans claimed that his stressor was home sickness while in the military while the other stated that he was yelled at often in basic training. While I have not served, I have seen films like “Jarhead” and “Full Metal Jacket,” and I realize that if I sign up for the military I will likely experience both of these issues. It may seem like I am making fun of the Veterans who filed these claims, but I’m not. They weren’t well versed in the law and were not aware of the criteria for a PTSD claim. Instead my issue comes from the people who helped them with their claim. One Vet was represented by an attorney, the other by a service officer. At no time did the representatives tell the Veteran that their claims did not fit the criteria for PTSD. Instead they pursued it. These representatives either did not know how a PTSD claim works, or they simply didn’t care. Either of those situations is scary. Sometimes we get paperwork from another firm and I will think: “Who filed this, Dr. Seuss?” I know I am making jokes in this blog as I like to keep things lighthearted, but this can be very serious.
About halfway through Days of Thunder Cole sits down with his crew chief and they work out a plan for Cole to change his approach to racing. Instead of going all out every lap and wrecking more often then not, Harry Hyde tells Cole to try things his way. This approach is more methodical, finessed, and calculated. Harry had years of experience winning and his approach worked. Cole won the next race he competed in. This approach is how the attorneys and staff of Jan Dils Attorneys at Law approach representing Veterans. We won’t pursue every claim under the sun. We will only pursue claims if there is enough evidence to support them properly. We do this through researching every Veteran’s claim file. This is a very labor intensive process and it can take a while, but it works. If we don’t see enough evidence to support a claim we will withdrawal on it after discussing with the Veteran how we came to that conclusion. This thorough review also allows us to find new claims the Veteran may not have been aware that he could file for prior.
Here is an example of this works. In the CFR, every disability is assigned a rating code. For instance, shoulders have one code, back another, and so on. Most mental disabilities are rated under the same rating code. So, PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and a bunch of other claims all get rated via the general rating formula for mental disorders. The point is that it makes no sense to file a claim for each of these individually. This takes longer and it is not necessary. When someone comes to us with PTSD, anxiety, depression, or any combination of these or other mental disabilities, we file it as one big claim. It would read as PTSD to include depression, or panic disorder, or all claims. It just depends.
Why are we so calculated in our approach? It’s simple; we believe our Veterans deserve fair representation. We don’t want to get their hopes up if we know we won’t be successful on a claim. That is not fair to them, and it makes for bad business. Our Veterans deserve an honest representative who will be upfront with them regarding their claims.
We are passionate about helping Veterans. We want our clients to get approved as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you’d like to learn more about our process, or if you’d like to set up a free phone consultation, give me a call today. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. You can also fill out this form if you’d rather talk to us at a later time.