When a veteran applies for disability benefits, so much is beyond their control. They complete the required paperwork, then sit and wait. Decision-makers at the VA –people they’ve never even met– will decide whether they are entitled to compensation.
One thing a veteran can control, though, is their relationship with the doctor who diagnoses and treats their service-related injury or illness. Keeping all medical appointments helps the doctor make an accurate disability report. That doctor’s report, in turn, impacts the veteran’s disability rating.
How the VA calculates disability ratings
If the VA determines that a veteran is entitled to benefits, they assign a disability rating. When this rating is calculated, the VA takes into account:
The doctor’s report, which details the history and impact of the disability
The results of their VA claim exam, if required
Any information that other sources, like federal agencies, may provide
For veterans with multiple service-related illnesses or injuries, the VA uses a formula to determine a combined disability rating.
The lasting impact of some service-related injuries is straightforward. Other cases are more complex. This is often true if the injury became apparent after discharge or an existing condition was made worse during service. It is important that the doctor be aware of the full scope of the veteran’s condition. Anyone who wants to apply for VA benefits needs to be completely open and honest with their doctor.
Why VA disability ratings are important
In general, the higher the disability rating, the more money a veteran is entitled to. If the doctor’s report does not fully show the extent of the illness or injury, the result could be an unfair disability rating or even a flat-out denial. A lengthy decision reviews and appeals process may be avoided with accurate and complete paperwork.
Many disabled veterans cannot afford to have their benefits delayed or denied. Fortunately, any time during the application process, a veteran can speak with an experienced VA disability attorney. These lawyers know the ins and outs of applying for VA disability benefits. They know what information must be included for a fair assessment. An experienced attorney knows what questions to ask and can anticipate potential problems, making a difficult process a little easier.