Veteran Disability Benefits FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions pertaining to Veteran Disability Benefit claims. Additional information on specific types of personal injury claims can be accessed by selecting the options under the “Practice Areas” tab.
How Much is My Case Worth?
Veterans can receive retroactive awards ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands. These awards are tax-free. The value of your case depends on the facts. However, currently, a 100% rating of service-connected disability entitles a veteran without dependents or additional entitlements to $34,956.00 per year.
Do You Want Me to Send My Original Documents?
No. Please do not provide us any documents unless we ask you to. We ask that you fax or scan us documents so we can put the digital records in your file on our server. In the event that we do ask you to send in documents, do not send us the originals.
Can I Get Both Social Security Benefits and VA Benefits?
Yes. However, this applies only to SSD benefits and VA compensation benefits. It does not apply to SSI or VA pension benefits. SSI and VA pension benefits are income and asset tested and cannot generally be combined with other benefits.
Does My Lawyer Need to be in Washington, D.C.?
It is important to remember that the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is unique in conducting business through pleadings filed electronically and in its use of telephone conferences. Therefore your attorney doesn’t need to be from Washington, D.C.
What Is the Process at Court?
The initial part of your appeal will involve establishing the official Record to be considered by the Court. After the Record has been filed, a conference will be scheduled with the VA attorney to discuss errors noted in the prior litigation of your claim in an attempt to have your case remanded at its earliest opportunity. If the VA does not concede any error, we will be required to submit a brief that outlines the legal bases for error. The VA would then have 60 days to respond with its brief. Once the matter is assigned to a judge, we can expect another 9 – 12 months for a decision.
How Long Will My Case Take in Court?
The VA ROs, BVA, and Court have a substantial backlog of cases. It takes many months just to prepare the record. Do not be surprised if it takes over a year for a decision. Our goal is to keep your case on track and get your appeal back to the VA for correction of errors at the earliest opportunity and press for a favorable decision. We do this through telephone negotiations with the VA attorneys in an attempt to shorten the appeal period.
Are My Service-Connected Disability Payments Taxable?
No. Your benefits are non-taxable.
How Do I Get an Earlier Effective Date for My Disability?
The VA assigns an effective date as the date on which the granted claim was filed. There are some important exceptions to this rule. One exception involves CUE claims and another involves a claim that is granted based on newly discovered service department records. If a claim for service connection has been denied for years and is then granted when new unit records are discovered, the regulations require that the VA consider an effective date back to the time when the first claim was filed.
Can I Reopen an Old Claim?
Veterans’ disability claims, once decided and not appealed, become final and binding. There are two basic ways in which a finally-decided claim determination may be challenged. The first is by the use of Clear & Unmistakable Error. The other process involves the reopening of a finally decided claim by use of “new and material evidence.” Generally, the veteran is trying to reopen a denial of a “service connection” for his claimed disability.
If the veteran is seeking to increase the amount of a disability rating percentage, the remedy is to file a claim seeking to increase the disability percentage. The veteran in this case is not reopening the claim. New and material evidence is a high legal threshold. If the VA determines the evidence is both “new” and “material,” the VA will reopen the claim. That is not to say that the VA will eventually grant the claim, but the veteran is given the chance to once again prove the merits of his or her claim.
What is CUE?
CUE stands for Clear and Unmistakable Error. CUE refers to the legal argument that a VA decision was wrong. If the claim is successful, benefits are paid by the VA all the way back to when the denied claim was filed.
The required legal proof is very high for a CUE claim. It is not enough to show that the VA decision was wrong. The veteran is required to show that the regulations and facts which were in the Case File at the time of the prior decision could lead only to one conclusion and the VA came to the wrong conclusion. The court is very strict about CUE claims and, while these claims are granted occasionally, they are not granted very often.
What is TDIU?
TDIU stands for Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability. It is also called IU and Unemployability. TDIU is based on a regulation that allows veterans who have less than a 100% schedular rating to receive 100% disability pay where the veteran’s service connected disability results in a total inability to work. In order to qualify for this rating, the veteran must have one service connected disability of 60% or a combination of ratings totaling 70% with one of the included ratings being at least 40%. Once these rating qualifications are met, the veteran is entitled to the benefit if he or she can show that the service connected disability has caused a total inability to work.