Tips to keep Veterans focused during the fall and winter months.
Last week was the opening of the NFL season. My beloved Houston Texans won, which made me pretty happy. However, the season kickoff also made me a little annoyed because it means that fall is here. That means winter is just around the corner, and thus bad times are ahead. For me winter means snow, firewood, and dressing in layers. I hate all of those things. Since I can’t move to Houston yet, I kind of have to deal with the weather. Winter also means that I will not be interacting with as many Veterans as I do during the warmer months.
Fall and winter are busy times for everyone. We get distracted by kids going back to school, preparing for cold weather if you live in a part of America that is not Florida, and even the holiday season. This can be an issue for Veterans who are pursuing VA Disability. Even though what I am saying may seem false, it’s not: The VA does not take time off. Granted, they aren’t usually open on Christmas or Thanksgiving, but they are working just as hard during the third and fourth quarter as any other organization. Maybe I shouldn’t assume so much about the VA working hard. Let’s just say they are working during the winter months. If you get a denial letter in the mail, there is no reason to hesitate on pursuing an appeal. While the winter months can be hectic, I have compiled 4 tips to help keep a claim going smoothly during the cold months.
- Keep your appointments! Some of us have this stuff called snow, and it makes traveling very difficult. Many Veterans have to travel long distances in order to get to a VA hospital. There is no need to wreck your car if traveling is compromised by snow. Simply call to reschedule your appointment with the VA. You will have to be proactive about this though as the VA is not going to call you back to reschedule. The same can be said about VA hearings. If your appointment is cancelled, or if you can’t make it, then get it rescheduled as soon as possible. This is a circumstance in which having an attorney will come in handy. We are able to contact the VA about reschedules in an efficient manner.
- Don’t procrastinate. I’m the biggest fan of putting things off to last minute. In fact, if there was a show about procrastinating, I’d probably put off watching it for a few seasons. While TV shows can wait, VA disability can’t. I talk to Veterans who want to wait until the New Year to file for benefits. There is simply no reason to wait until you have to buy a new calendar to file for benefits. The same can be said for filing appeals, new claims, and reopens. To put it simply, you don’t have time to wait. There is a time limit. Once you get into the appeals process there are time limits at every level. Just because the VA gives you one year to file a Notice of Disagreement doesn’t mean you have to wait until day 360 to file an appeal. Once you get to the SOC, and the SSOC, the time limits are quite shorter. Missing the deadline will result in losing back pay. Once again, having an attorney will help alleviate some of the stress from these deadlines.
- If you have an attorney, or even if you’re working with a service organization, don’t hesitate to call them during the winter months. We generally tell our clients to check-in at least once a month to see what is going on with their case. There is a good chance that nothing new is happening, but it’s good to call in with updated information at this time, or new appointments.
- Seek help. The winter months can be a tough time for us all. We see all of these commercials about Veterans coming home to loving families, but the realist in me knows that is not always the case. A lot of Veterans are alone, or maybe even be isolated in their family. Going at it alone is never easy. I am a big fan of seeking out recreation in non-traditional forms. For Veterans, seeing a counselor can be difficult. While I do recommend seeing a counselor, it’s a good idea to supplement that with something that gets you around other Veterans with similar experiences. This is especially true if you are living alone or have limited interaction with others.
Follow these simple tips in the upcoming months and you will likely see more efficient results in your VA Disability claim. If you would like to know more about what a law firm like Jan Dils Attorneys at Law can do for your claim, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you aren’t in a good position to talk right now, fill out this form, and a member of our staff will contact you at a more convenient time.