How Does VA Disability Evidence Work

How Does VA Disability Evidence Work

How Does VA Disability Evidence Work?

Addressing the questions about VA disability evidence. During his second inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln laid out the vision for the future Veterans Administration disability program when he envisioned a way “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.” For many years, the VA disability system fulfilled Lincoln’s vision. Veterans who were entitled to compensation were able to obtain it without a prolonged fight.

Now, things are different. The VA is one of the most under-funded federal agencies, and the
number of disabled veterans keeps rising as veterans of Vietnam reach old age and veterans of
the Global War on Terror – which spurred higher rates of enlistment in the military – leave the
military and attain veteran status. The VA fights claims more vigorously now, making it more
difficult for veterans to receive the compensation they deserve.

In this environment, a VA disability attorney is more important than ever. Though an attorney
can guide you through all aspects of the claims process, there are three important reasons to
consult a VA disability attorney.

     1. VA disability attorneys know what evidence you need to prove your disability.
     2. A VA disability attorney knows how to present this evidence effectively
     3. An attorney familiar with your case can advocate for you on appeal

Evidence of Disability

You may be surprised to learn there are other ways to show disability besides a medical
diagnosis. Disability can have educational, vocational, and other implications and can be proven
through this type of evidence.

VA Medical Evidence

Medical records are still the best starting point for proving your disability in the VA claims
process. After all, a disability is a health condition that adversely affects other areas of a
veteran’s life besides physical health. A current diagnosis of a disabling condition is usually
required for compensation.

This evidence is sometimes difficult to secure. Medical misdiagnosis is unfortunately a common
occurrence. In the VA system, examinations for purposes of disability claims are carried out by
overworked physicians, nurses, or other medical personnel. These are VA employees or
contractors who do not have much time to spend with patients and often rush through exams.

They do not have much time to evaluate diagnostic test results, either. Therefore, examination
reports are often incomplete, lack proper analysis, or contain mistakes, which severely frustrates
compensation claims.

Independent Medical Evidence

To supplement VA-provided diagnostic evidence, a VA disability attorney can request
independent medical opinions from an outside physician or another practitioner. The VA regional
office handling the claim can also request such evidence if they feel a medical question has been left unanswered.

Non-Medical Evidence

A diagnosis alone is not enough – the condition must also be disabling. The VA uses a sliding
scale to determine the extent of disability (e.g. 20% disabled, 50% disabled, etc.). Symptoms
evidence includes not only the veteran’s own statements about how the disability affects his or
her daily life, but also statements from friends, family members, and co-workers. Sometimes, a
third party may have a better idea of how a disability affects a veteran than the veteran!

Evidence from vocational experts showing a veteran has trouble working due to disability are
also helpful in showing the level of disability.

Service Records

Equally as important, both the diagnosis and the symptoms must be related to an event in service
or had their onset during service. This can be proven by obtaining records from the veteran’s
active duty or training periods, which may show complaints of or treatment for a particular
condition or injury.

Initial Reviews

50 years ago, the initial claims approval rate was about 60%. Today, budget cuts and higher
numbers of disabled veterans have reduced the initial approval rate to about 30%. As a result,
there is a higher chance an initial disability claim will be denied. That does not mean the veteran
won’t receive compensation – just that more or better evidence may be necessary.

An attorney can guide you through obtaining better evidence, quickly. Sometimes it is as simple
as getting a second opinion when your VA examination does not yield clear or correct results.

Sometimes the VA overlooks clear evidence, which an attorney can point out. Though an
attorney cannot officially represent you until after an initial review, it never hurts to discuss your
situation with one.

Appeals

A new law gives veterans more options at the appeal level. Frequently, a simple second look
review is appropriate. Such streamlined reviews are often good in borderline cases, or if the
claims examiner made a clear error.

In less clear-cut cases, the next stage is an appeal to an administrative law judge or ALJ. This
full hearing allows an attorney to represent the veteran and introduce evidence, challenge
previous findings, and make legal arguments. It is critical to find and present the best evidence
possible to get the best results.

Work With Diligent Attorneys

An attorney is a valuable partner in all phases of a disability claim, especially evidence gathering
and presentation. For a free consultation with an experienced Veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, P.C. at 800-861-7262 or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to represent veterans nationwide and there is no fee until you win!

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client
relationship.