Filing And Appealing VA Claims Can Feel Overwhelming On Your Own!
The Good News is, You don’t have to!
YES! You can go online to https://www.index.va.gov/ and watch the videos and read the tutorials and file a claim on your own. But, you first should ask yourself, “Which conditions do I claim?” If you take a look at our Self-Help page, www.KnowAVet.org you will see over 80 issues. Most are ones you can get compensation or medical services for but others, like child care, clothing and transportation, that you might not think the VA can help with, you can also get help for.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Looking at the VA’s Exposure Ed app, https://mobile.va.gov/app/exposure-ed you’ll see that there are literally hundreds of diseases, including many cancers, you could have to deal with, based on hazards you didn’t even know you were exposed to.
On top of that, when you file a claim the adjudicator, who reviews it at the VA, is looking for specific phrases or key words that are written into the laws and regulations they follow. If they don’t see them, you will eventually get your first rejection. Hopefully it will have a thorough enough explanation to help you refile more successfully the second or third time. If you need any military records to back up your claim, we wish you the best of luck.
Want to be a bug on the Elephant’s tail or work with an advocate the elephant trusts?
Veterans Services Offices (VSOs) can help you with compensation/pensions, medical care, educational benefits, family benefits, Veteran home loans, death and burial benefits and much, much more. Basically, they will fight for everything you and your family EARNED through your service. They will even help you obtain missing records, file claims and appeals, and follow up, at no cost to you! That’s right, FREE.
A certified Veterans Service Officer will interview you and discuss not only your circumstances, but also your family’s. Then they will begin the filing process using their knowledge of what adjudicators need to see to get your maximum benefits the first time. Their collective experience, filing hundreds of thousands of claims and appeals each year gives you the edge.
VSOs are NOT part of the VA. They are paid to fight for your rights against the VA. Since these are county operated centers, (or local service organizations) they can also guide you to other federal, state, county and community resources that can help you.
Often these other resource suggestions include tax reductions, extra educational benefits for yourself and sometimes even your children. Some counties and states may also have dedicated funds to assist you with temporary shelter/utilities, food/health supplies, medical/dental, job placement, counseling, and transportation. Many have ID cards so that you can get discounts from local stores and services, as well as national chain stores and restaurants, even if you are not registered with the VA or have a “0” rating. Please also see our Freebies and Discounts page at https://www.knowavet.org/freebies-and-discounts/
In Santa Clara County 95% of all claims are processed online, with a 94% first time approval within an average of just six weeks. Compare that to the huge first time rejection rate and a wait of over a year and a half for people filing via paper, on their own.
Know A Vet? presents this information and these national resource directories, not as a recommendation of any specific service or provider, but as a starting point for your own research.
Please feel free to use the check sheets Before, During and After the Medical Appointment at https://www.knowavet.org/before-during-and-after-a-medical-appointment/and Choosing a Medical Service Provider, at https://www.knowavet.org/choosing-a-medical-service-provider/, to help you in your search for the best help for your individual circumstances.
In addition, there may be other federal, state and local government or private resources for your individual needs. A VSO counselor https://www.knowavet.org/office-of-vet-services/ may be able to help you find them.
While we strongly urge you to take advantage of all you have earned through your service, we understand there are many reasons why you may prefer non-VA service providers. Here are some places to start: