A disabled veteran’s service-related condition may worsen over time. If this has happened to you, it is possible to apply for increased disability benefits. Increased benefits may be necessary to support yourself and your family and to meet your monthly needs. But the VA disability system is complicated and requires time, supporting evidence, and attention to detail.
A good place to start is with the VA disability rating system. The VA assigns disabled veterans a rating based on the severity of their disabilities. This rating determines a veteran’s amount of compensation. Ratings are given in increments of 10% (10%, 20%, etc.), with 100% indicating total disability. Speak to your VA disability lawyer if you want to learn more about how the rating system works.
If your condition has worsened, an upward adjustment of your disability rating will be required for benefits to increase. Before you apply for an increase, check to determine whether you are already receiving the maximum rating for your condition. Many veterans, however, have been assigned a rating that is too low for their condition. Your disability rating may be too low for the following types of conditions:
- Neck, spine, hip, and knee injuries
- Back and other orthopedic injuries
- Mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder
The VA should reevaluate your disability rating every two to five years, depending on the severity of your reported condition. However, this reevaluation does not always happen. You will need to request a reevaluation based on your or your doctor’s recognition that your condition has deteriorated. This is where having a New Orleans VA disability lawyer is strongly recommended.
You can begin the rating increase process by gathering evidence that your disability has gotten worse. It is suggested that you use new evidence to prove your claim. Evidence includes VA medical and hospital records. Private medical and hospital records may also be used to support your request. You can even use supporting statements from family, friends, or coworkers who are familiar with your worsening condition.
One thing to remember is that a disability rating increase is not the same as an appeal. An appeal is used to overturn a low-rating decision, or a denial of benefits, made during the initial application process. On the other hand, a rating increase is used to compensate for service-related conditions that become worse.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that a request for a rating increase could result in a decrease. Once you apply for an increase, you are reopening your VA file. This could potentially subject you to a lower rating once the VA fully evaluates your condition. Having an experienced VA disability lawyer can help ensure you are receiving the proper rating. An attorney can also evaluate your claim and advise as to what may happen when you apply.
An option for some disabled veterans is Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits. These benefits are used for those whose conditions have worsened to the point that they can no longer work. This allows for the veteran to receive 100% disability pay.
In some cases, a veteran may be entitled to back pay after a rating increase. This is increased compensation dating back to when your condition began to worsen. Some beneficiaries may be entitled to a substantial sum of money, and should speak to their lawyer about this.
Get Advice About Your Veterans’ Disability Benefits
Your goal in seeking increased veterans’ disability benefits is to get your disability rating up. Bear in mind, however, that this process can be time-consuming and difficult. Typically you are dealing with a backlogged and heavily bureaucratic system. Most veterans are not familiar with the rules, statutes, and evidence that may be necessary to prove their case. Fortunately, a New Orleans VA disability lawyer can assist you with your claim. Call the experienced professionals at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC today.