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Should I Hire a VA Disability Lawyer?

Posted on by Ken LaVan

Should I Hire a VA Disability Lawyer?

You should hire a VA disability lawyer, especially from https://www.lipconlawfirm.com/truck-accidents/. With a budget over $217 billion, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the largest federal agencies.  VA’s disability benefit program was intended to be veteran-friendly.  However, for most veterans, applying for VA benefits is a long and frustrating process.  A veteran who represents himself is at a huge disadvantage.  There are hundreds of rules and regulations about the veteran’s rights and VA’s duties.  The process becomes even tougher when VA sends mixed messages, requests information it already has, or issues a decision that completely ignores the evidence.

Do You Have the Expertise?

Most veterans have not studied VA disability law.  Even fewer veterans follow the Federal court cases that change the law every year.  But without that knowledge, many VA claims are doomed to fail.  A VA Disability Attorney’s knowledge and experience can make all the difference.  Specifically, an attorney, especially the professionals from https://www.denvercocriminaldefenselawyer.com/, can determine exactly how to turn a loss into a win. 

Who Needs a VA Disability Lawyer?

Beeman Heifner Benge – Personal Injury Lawyers says that in this fight, a veteran needs someone who is aiming for the same target.  That’s why many of our clients left previous arrangements. Before hiring DHG, many of our veteran clients did not have a VA disability attorney.  Some represented themselves.  They learned very quickly that VA didn’t share the same urgency and had a different result in mind.  Others were represented by a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) such as DAV or American Legion.  Because they work out of VA facilities, there is a perceived conflict of interest.  Does a VSO work for VA or the veteran? 

What is a VA Disability Lawyer’s Role?

Your VA disability claim is too important to risk.  When you hire a VA Disability Attorney, you’re hiring your own specialist to get the job done.  Most of them work for a contingency fee.  They don’t get paid unless they win past-due benefits for the veteran.  And because the contingency fee is usually a fixed 20%, the attorney has every incentive to win the largest possible award.  Plus, the attorney-client relationship ensures he/she is on your side.  Both you and the attorney would be aiming at the same target.

An experienced VA Disability Attorney knows VA’s written and unwritten rules has the knowledge to prepare a game plan to best achieve your objective.  Working together with your attorney, you have a better chance to hit your target.

When Should I Hire a VA Disability Lawyer?

Immediately!  The earlier you can prove your case the faster you can receive your VA disability benefits. In addition, the VA Disability Lawyer will be able to analyze your disability onset date and make sure you receive the maximum back benefits, according to an experience elder abuse law firm Chicago. Generally, a veteran must prove the following to win a VA disability claim:

  1. Current diagnosis,
  2. In-service event, disease or injury, and
  3. Medical nexus between the first 2 elements.

If you don’t have a medical diagnosis, then you need to see your doctor.  Only licensed medical professionals can diagnose medical conditions.  Attorneys cannot do so.  However, if VA denies your claim for any of these reasons, you should probably hire a VA Disability Lawyer:

  • Negative medical nexus (“less likely than not”),
  • No documented proof of in-service event, disease or injury, , or
  • VA ignored evidence proving all 3 elements.

Which VA Disability Lawyer Should I Hire?

VA Accreditation

Only attorneys who have been accredited by VA can represent veterans in disability cases, as a result, VA holds Disability Lawyers to a high ethical standard.  Accreditation reflects VA’s standard for responsible, qualified representation of this nation’s veterans.  A searchable database of VA accredited attorneys, claims agents and VSOs is available here.

Experience

Experience makes a world of difference. Since 1993, the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates (NOVA) has been the leading organization for training and support of VA Accredited representatives. At Disability Help Group, our representatives are long-standing NOVA members. You know what you are looking for, the https://www.sweetesq.com/car-accidents/ has all details you need and you can choose your lawyer easily.

Speak to The Lawyer

There are many firms out there that you never get to speak with the attorney. At Disability Help Group our representative will talk to you and be your main contact during your entire case. When you hire an attorney you should ask: 

  1. When will I get to speak with my lawyer?
  2. Who will be my main point of contact?
  3. How many cases has my lawyer won?

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Has VA ever denied your case?  You may be entitled to significant compensation.  Contact us now for a free consultation.

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VA Disability Compensation Rates 2020

Posted on by Ken LaVan

VA Disability Compensation Rates 2020 increased about 1.6% from 2019 rates. If the VA decides that a veteran’s disability is related to service, it must then assign a rating percentage.  By law, VA may assign rating of 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% and 100%.  These percentages guide the precise dollar amount VA must pay to a disabled veteran. 

Individual v. Combined Ratings, VA Disability Compensation Rates 2020

Combined VA Disability Compensation Rates 2020

A 100% disability compensation rating is the maximum permitted by law. However, what if you have one disability at 70% (such as PTSD) and another disability at 50% (such as sleep apnea)?  Does that mean you have a total rating of 120%?  Unfortunately, no.  To avoid going over the 100% cap, VA uses a Combined Ratings table.  Instead of adding your individual ratings, VA combines them using a formula.  This is known as “VA math.”

Combined Ratings Table

2020 VA Disability Compensation Rates. In fact, the Combined Ratings table provides that after your conditions are rated, they are all combined using a specific formula. First, the VA considers the most disabling condition – that is, the one with the highest rating – then less disabling conditions in order of severity.  Consequently, this method captures the residual efficiency of a veteran with more than one service-connected condition.  Because the maximum percentage reflects total impairment, the formula will never result in a rating higher than 100%.

If the combined value ends in a number from 5 through 9, VA rounds up to the next highest multiple of 10.  Values that ends in 1 through 4, VA rounds down to the lower multiple of 10.  If the combined value ends in 0, then rounding is unnecessary. 

Combined Rating Example

For example, a veteran with 70% for PTSD and 50% rating for sleep apnea has a combined value of 85%.  An 85% value rounds up to a 90% combined rating.  Similarly, for a veteran with a combined value of 84%, rounds down to 80%.  A veteran with two separate disabilities rated at 10% each has a combined value of 19%, which rounds up to a 20% combined rating.

A veteran’s combined rating determines his monthly compensation payment.  For all combined rating percentages above 0%, VA will make specific monthly payments to the veteran. The higher the disability rating, the higher the monthly compensation VA will pay to the veteran. 

How Much are 2020 VA Disability Compensation Rates per Month?

VA disability compensation rates depend on your combined rating and how many dependents rely on you for support.  All things considered, if you have a 0% rating, then VA will not pay any monthly benefits.   As long as you have at least a 30% combined rating percentage, VA will pay a bit extra for every dependent.  Altogether, the following 2020 rates break down the monthly benefit VA must pay based on your overall rating percentage:

Veteran with No Dependents

10%$142.29
20%$281.27
30%$435.69
40%$627.61
50%$893.43
60%$1,131.68
70%$1,426.17
80%$1,657.80
90%$1,862.96
100%$3,106.04

Veteran with Spouse Only (No Children)

10%$142.29
20%$281.27
30%$486.69
40%$696.61
50%$979.43
60%$1,234.68
70%$1,547.17
80%$1,795.80
90%$2,017.96
100%$3,279.22

Veteran with 1 Child Only

10%$142.29
20%$281.27
30%$469.69
40%$673.61
50%$950.43
60%$1,200.68
70%$1,507.17
80%$1,749.80
90%$1,966.96
100%$3,221.85

Veteran with Spouse and 1 Child

10%$142.29
20%$281.27
30%$525.69
40%$747.61
50%$1,043.43
60%$1,311.68
70%$1,636.17
80%$1,897.80
90%$2,132.96
100%$3,406.04

Veteran with Spouse, 1 Child, and 1 Dependent Parent

10%$142.29
20%$281.27
30%$566.69
40%$802.61
50%$1,112.43
60%$1,394.68
70%$1,733.17
80%$2,008.80
90%$2,257.96
100%$3,545.02

Living Adjustments

Periodically, VA will re-assess the precise dollar amounts to keep pace with increases in the cost of living.  This usually happens at the same time that the Social Security Administration issues a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

Make Sure VA is Paying You Correctly, VA Disability Compensation Rates 2020

If you already have a VA rating percentage, then don’t assume that VA is paying you based on the 2020 rates.  Periodically, veterans should check their compensation status to ensure the payment is correct.  If you are unsure of your combined rating, then ask VA to send you a Summary of Benefits.  This letter will include your rating and the monthly dollar amount.  Compare VA’s records to the tables listed above.

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Increase Your Rating from 70% to 100%

Increase your Rating from 70% to 100%. If you already have a 70% rating, then you may already understand how VA ratings work.  Therefore, you probably know that a 100% rating is the maximum allowed by law.  If so, you are well aware that VA uses a Schedule of Ratings to determine the appropriate percentage.  This article will provide guidance on how to increase your monthly VA payment by approximately $1,688.41.

Single Disability Rated at 70%

If your 70% rating is for a single disability, then your first step is to find the ratings criteria for that disability.   The Schedule of Ratings contains the ratings criteria for all disabilities in various categories.  Each category contains groups of medical problems.  Each group contains a list of disabilities, and each disability has its own diagnostic code.  Every diagnostic code specifies the symptoms required for various ratings.  For example, the 9411 code applies to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  VA rates PTSD –along with many other mental health conditions – under the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders.  Depending on the symptoms, a veteran may receive either 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100%.

Develop Medical Evidence to Increase Your Rating from 70% to 100%

Next, you must develop the evidence to match the criteria for a 100% rating.  VA does not hide the ball here.  The ratings criteria lays out what it takes to get a higher rating.  For example, let’s say you have a 70% rating for PTSD.   According to the Schedule, the only PTSD rating higher than 70% is 100%.  A 100% rating for PTSD is warranted when the veteran is totally impaired both occupationally and socially.

One or more of the following symptoms would yield a 100% rating:

  • Gross impairment in thought processes or communication;
  • Persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior;
  • Persistent danger of hurting self or others;
  • Intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene);
  • Disorientation to time or place; or
  • Memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name.

The best evidence to increase your rating from 70% to 100%

To increase your VA disability Rating from 70% to 100% it is important to provide medical records to the VA that shows your symptoms. However, most psychologists and psychiatrists seldom document your symptoms with VA’s criteria in mind.  Fortunately, VA provides rating tools such as Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) on their website.  These DBQs apply to every kind of disability.  For example, VA provides a DBQ for PTSD that simplifies rating decisions.  The check boxes make it easy for doctors to complete.  If the symptoms noted in a DBQ satisfy the criteria for a higher rating, then VA will likely grant that rating. 

70% Combined Rating with Multiple Disabilities

If you have a 70% overall rating for a combination of conditions, then getting to 100% is much tougher.  This is mostly because of the VA Combined Ratings table.

To get higher ratings for each disability, follow these steps:

  • Read the specific rating criteria,
  • Ask your doctor whether you meet the criteria for higher ratings, and
  • Develop medical evidence to support your request for higher ratings.

Although, it is not as simple as getting an additional 30% rating.  This is because VA does not add your ratings; it combines them.

VA Combined Ratings Table

The VA Combined Ratings table provides that, after individual conditions are separately rated, the disabilities are then all combined using a specific formula. See 38 C.F.R. § 4.25(b).  VA first considers the most disabling condition – that is, the one with the highest rating – then less disabling conditions in order of severity.  This method captures the residual efficiency of a veteran with more than one service-connected condition.  The purpose is to prevent an overall rating higher than 100%.

The ratings table is difficult to understand, call us at 1-800-800-3332 to answer your questions or click here to complete a form.

When the combined value ends in a number from 5 through 9, VA rounds up to the next highest multiple of 10.  If the combined value ends in 1 through 4, VA rounds down to the lower multiple of 10. Or, if the combined value ends in 0, then rounding is unnecessary.

Combined Disability Rating to Increase Your Rating from 70% to 100%

For example, a veteran with only PTSD at 50% and asthma at 30% has a combined value of 65%.  A 65% value rounds up to a 70% combined rating.  To get to 100% overall, this veteran must either (1) win a 100% rating for PTSD or asthma, or (2) win at least a 90% rating for an additional disability (or group of disabilities) rated at 90%.

Free Case Review, 1-800-800-3332

If you have more questions about how to increase your va disability rating from 70% to 100%, please reach out to us.  We will provide a 100% free VA case review.  We will be happy to answer your questions.

Resources

Our website is also full of helpful information. Firstly, if you would like to review other blogs, click here. Secondly, if you would like to see a list of resources click here. And thirdly, you can click on Testimonials to read the great comments we receive.

To learn what VA Permanent and Total Disability is, click here.

VA Disability Rating for PTSD

What is Required: VA Disability Rating for PTSD

Before VA will award a disability rating for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the veteran must first prove service connection.  Thereafter, the VA must determine the correct rating percentage, which will determine how much money VA must pay to the veteran.  Rather than assign percentages at random, VA uses a Schedule of Ratings.

Schedule of Ratings: VA Disability Rating for PTSD

The Schedule of Ratings breaks down disabilities into different categories.  Firstly, each category contains groups of medical problems.  Secondly, each group contains a list of disabilities, and each disability has its own diagnostic code.  Thirdly, every diagnostic code specifies the symptoms required for various ratings.  For example, the 9411 code applies to PTSD.  VA rates PTSD –along with 36 other mental health conditions – under the General Rating Formula for Mental Disorders.  Depending on the symptoms, a veteran may receive either 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100%.

The Criteria: VA Disability Rating for PTSD

100% = Total occupational and social impairment

  • gross impairment in thought processes or communication;
  • persistent delusions or hallucinations;
  • grossly inappropriate behavior;
  • persistent danger of hurting self or others;
  • intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living, such as maintenance of minimal personal hygiene;
  • disorientation to time or place;
  • memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation, or own name

70% = Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood

  • suicidal ideation;
  • obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities;
  • speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant;
  • near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively;
  • impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence);
  • spatial disorientation;
  • neglect of personal appearance and hygiene;
  • difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances, such as work or a work-like setting;
  • inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

50% = Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity

  • flattened affect;
  • circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech;
  • panic attacks more than once a week;
  • difficulty in understanding complex commands;
  • impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks);
  • impaired judgment;
  • impaired abstract thinking;
  • disturbances of motivation and mood;
  • difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.

30%= Occupational and social impairment with occasional decrease in work efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform occupational tasks

  • depressed mood;
  • anxiety;
  • suspiciousness;
  • panic attacks (weekly or less often), chronic sleep impairment, mild memory loss (such as forgetting names, directions, recent events).

10% = Occupational and social impairment due to mild or transient symptoms

  • decrease work efficiency and ability to perform occupational tasks only during periods of significant stress; or
  • symptoms controlled by continuous medication.

0% = A mental condition has been formally diagnosed, but symptoms are not severe enough either to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication.

100% VA Disability Rating for PTSD

A 100% disability rating for PTSD reflects total impairment.  Symptoms in the 100% range include persistent suicide attempts.  However, a veteran with very mild PTSD controlled by medication will probably receive 10%.  VA is bound by the Schedule of Ratings.  Especially, if your service-connected disability satisfies the criteria for a higher rating, then VA must grant that rating.

Case Studies: VA Disability Rating for PTSD

To meet the criteria for a specific PTSD rating, the veteran’s symptoms must approximately match the listed criteria.  The following examples show how VA assigns disability ratings for PTSD:

Case Study 2: 50% Rating for PTSD

A 63 year-old veteran with PTSD rated at 10% provided a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) from his doctor.  The DBQ noted depressed mood, flattened affect, panic attacks twice a week, impaired judgment and difficulty in establishing effective relationships.  In the end, VA increased his PTSD disability rating to 50%.

Case Study: 10% Rating PTSD

VA rated a 44 year-old veteran at 10% because her PTSD symptoms were well controlled with medication.  She asked VA to increase the rating to 30% because she had 2 panic attacks in the past 12 months.  The panic attacks happened during her commute to her full-time job.  The attacks resolved within minutes, and she did not lose any time from work.  In brief, VA kept her PTSD disability rating at 10%.

How Can I Increase My VA Disability Rating?

Increase VA Disability Rating

How Can I Increase My VA Disability Rating? When discussing VA Disability rates, one must distinguish between the Compensation and Pension rates.  Both involve monthly payments from VA, but they have very different requirements. Pension is a needs-based program similar to Supplemental Security Income (SSI). VA will grant pension benefits to veterans with wartime service, low income, and total and permanent disability. The total and permanent disability does not need to be “connected” to their military service. 

Maximum VA Pension

VA Pension rates are based on income.  The maximum pension rate is an annual amount set by Congress. A veteran’s pension is determined by how much income his family generates. 

VA Compensation Rating

VA Compensation is NOT based on need or income.  It pays a veteran for disabilities incurred in or aggravated during their active duty service. A veteran may not receive both pension and compensation at the same time.  Compensation is generally paid at a much higher rate, most veterans opt for compensation.  The following will focus on disability compensation rates.

Increase VA Disability Rating, Schedule of Ratings

Congress directed VA to, “adopt and apply a schedule of ratings of reductions in earning capacity from specific injuries or combination of injuries.” In other words, a veteran’s disability rating must reflect how much that disability impairs the veteran’s ability to work.  VA law also requires that the Schedule of Ratings “provide 10 grades of disability and no more.”  Under the schedule, VA assigns disability ratings of: 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100%.  The higher the disability rating, the higher the monthly compensation VA will pay to the veteran. 

Why VA Ratings Differ

Some medical conditions are more disabling than others.  How does VA figure out the right disability rating?  The Schedule of Ratings breaks down disabilities into different categories based on the affected part of the body.  Each category contains groups of medical problems.  Each group contains a list of disabilities, and each disability has its own diagnostic code.  Every diagnostic code specifies the symptoms required for various ratings.  For example, many veterans suffer from a hearing loss disability known as tinnitus.  In-service exposure to loud noise – such as on the deck of an aircraft carrier – is a common cause of tinnitus.  Under the Disease of the Ear category, tinnitus has the 6260 diagnostic code.   Under code 6260, the maximum disability rating is 10%.  The rating is the same whether tinnitus affects one or both ears.

VA Diagnostic Codes and Ratings

Understand the VA diagnostic codes to increase your VA disability rating. Not every diagnostic code is as simple as 6260.  For example, the 9411 code applies to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Depending on the symptoms, a veteran may receive either 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% or 100%.  A 100% rating for PTSD reflects total impairment of occupational and social skills.  Symptoms in the 100% range include persistent suicide attempts.  However, a veteran with very mild PTSD controlled by medication will probably receive 10%.  VA is bound by the diagnostic code criteria.  If your service-connected disability satisfies the criteria for a higher rating, then VA must grant that rating.

Disability Help Group VA Team

We have helped thousands of veterans win higher VA disability ratings. One veteran in particular came to us with a 50% rating for his PTSD.  During development, we discovered that he had more than 10 psychiatric hospitalizations within the past 5 years.  He was involuntarily hospitalized under the Baker Act.  He required 300 mg of Lithium twice daily to simply maintain a baseline of suicidal ideations.  After several years of our advocacy, VA agreed to assign a 100% rating all the way back to his first hospitalization.  Thanks to our work, VA paid him a lump-sum of over $200,000.00.

Increase Your VA Disability to 100%

The maximum VA rating permitted by law is 100%. If you have one disability at 70% and another disability at 50% ?  Does that mean you really have a 120% overall rating?  No.  To avoid exceeding the 100% cap, VA uses a Combined Ratings table.  A rating is not added to another rating to determine the VA rating. The VA uses the Combined Ratings table to determine the rating VA first considers the most disabling condition – that is, the one with the highest rating – then less disabling conditions in order of severity.  This method captures the residual efficiency of a veteran with more than one service-connected condition.  The formula will never result in a rating higher than 100%.

Combined VA Rating

If the combined value ends in a number from 5 through 9, VA rounds up to the next highest multiple of 10.  When the combined value ends in 1 through 4, VA rounds down to the lower multiple of 10. If the combined value ends in 0, then rounding is unnecessary.  For example, a veteran with 70% and 50% rating has a combined value of 85%.  An 85% value rounds up to a 90% combined rating.  A veteran with a combined value of 84%, rounds down to 80%.  A veteran with two separate disabilities rated at 10% each has a combined value of 19%, which rounds up to a 20% combined rating.

Some helpful links that provide additional information are, https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/current_rates_veteran_pen.asp, and https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/resources_comp01.asp.

Can your VA disability benefits be garnished for child support?

At Disability Help Group we want to keep you informed.  One topic that comes up again and again with our clients is that of alimony and child support.

 

Many disabled veterans want to know if their VA disability compensation can be garnished for child support and alimony.

 

The answer is yes, courts can and do write orders to garnish your disability benefits.  However, the garnishment must meet very strict and specific guidelines.

 

For example, the maximum amount that the Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS) will garnish, outlined in 5 CFR §581.402, is the following:

  • 50% if the service member is providing more than half the support to other dependents not covered by the order.
  • 55% if the service member is providing more than half the support to other dependents not covered by the order, but has a support arrearage.
  • 60% if the service member is not providing more than half the support to other dependents not covered by the order.
  • 65% if the service member is not providing more than half the support to other dependents not covered by the order, but has a support arrearage.

If you need help understanding any portion of your veterans’ disability claim, denial or disability rating please do not hesitate to contact our experienced representatives today.