It's no secret that the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability appeal process is slow, but you shouldn't simply accept poor performance issues without at least trying to break through the problems. Making a few calls can move you to the next part of your claim or appeal's process a bit faster, but you may eventually run into a legitimately long queue. If calls and complaints aren't working, be sure to maintain your legal options and your health by using benefits available to most veterans. Here are a few things that you can do on your own, as well as a few ways that an attorney can be helpful.
What Does The VA Consider As Proof?
One major part of a successful claim is having medical evidence of your issue. If you're an injured veteran, you need to prove that your injury is both related to military service and is still a current problem.
Proving your injury's military service connection is called service-connected evidence, and can be delivered in multiple forms. A medical record entry showing that you were treated for an issue or at least complained about an issue is a good start, but you can even use service record entries, official military reports or even news articles that can personally identify you.
For current medical problems, proof can get tricky. Breaking your leg in the military is certainly a problem that requires medical condition, but it doesn't mean that you're currently suffering from the problem. Even if you have a limp, unless medical evidence agrees with your current suffering on paper, your claim could be delayed or denied unless you develop more evidence.
Don't take it personally. There are veterans out there committing fraud and taking vital funding from legitimately suffering veterans. It's unfortunately not difficult to have a buddy in the medical department who could write up any kind of diagnosis while you're in the military as "proof," and anyone can fake a limp with enough planning. Your proof needs to be independently observed by the VA, or delivered by a medical professional outside of the military.
Updating Medical Details During Your Wait
There are a few options for collecting new evidence. You can visit Veteran Affairs clinics and hospitals to get examinations either by walking in or setting an appointment for free, or visit non-VA medical professionals while paying out of pocket (which is reimbursed if your claim/appeal is successful). There's a third option of getting a referral from the VA for non-VA healthcare at no cost to you, but this isn't a guarantee and is mostly up to your local VA clinic or hospital.
These updated medical options can deliver the much-needed evidence in your favor, and can make a denial less likely. It doesn't matter if your claim or appeal seems to be stuck in the system; when your claim eventually moves forward, the new evidence can be examined. If you're denied and the evidence seems to be ignored, an appeal is simple as long as you bring it to the VA's attention.
There are, unfortunately, times where paperwork is lost or claims officials aren't working in the best interests of veterans. If you're running into resistance or feel that your issue isn't being respected, don't hesitate to call a personal injury attorney. The attorney can put pressure on the claim/appeal process and find a set of officials willing to work more carefully on your issue.
An attorney can also connect you with civilian medical professionals who understand claim systems. Contact an attorney to discuss your claim. Click here for more info.