Veterans disability claim denials are common and can be caused by errors in the determination of benefits or lack of evidence. Many of these denials have a strong chance of appeal with appropriate documentation. Denials commonly happen for the following reasons:
- Lack of medical evidence to support disability
- Missing connection between service and symptoms
- Condition pre-existed military service
- Missed Deadlines
Lack of Evidence
Lack of medical evidence to support a veteran disability claim can be a frustrating reason for your vet disability denial. In this scenario, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is saying that your medical documentation does not make a strong enough connection to your condition. This may simply be a case of poor records. Supplementing a claim with stronger evidence may help your claim. Some examples of stronger medical evidence include:
- Expert evidence from medical doctors
- Expert evidence from counselors and social workers
- Physician records covering entire history of the disability
- Records of hospital admittance
Evidence from these recognized medical experts will carry more weight than testimony from a spouse or family member. The extensive training and experience of a doctor can strengthen the evidence for a vet disability claim and help reverse a denial.
Service and Symptoms Connection
If the VA cannot draw a connection between your service and your symptoms, you may receive a disability denial. You must show that your military service had a strong correlation to your disability. Expert medical records and testimony are the best way to develop this correlation. In addition, it can be helpful to offer evidence that shows a snapshot of your medical history without disability prior to your service.
Condition Pre-Existed Military Service
VA disability payments have one purpose – to compensate veterans who currently suffer from illness or injury that was incurred during military service. A veteran making a claim must show that the condition did not pre-exist his or her military service. Three variables must be present:
- You had an injury or illness that occurred or was aggravated by military service
- You still suffer from the illness
- There is a direct link between the service injury and your current condition.
If the VA believes that your illness or injury pre-existed your military service, the disability claim will be denied.
While there is no statute of limitations on applying for veterans disability benefits, it is important to file an application as soon as you can after becoming disabled or becoming aware of your disabling condition.
However, there ARE several deadlines associated with appealing veteran disability benefits denials. After your initial denial, you have 1 year from the date of the decision in which to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD).
Once you’ve received a Statement of Case (SOC), you have 60 days from the date you receive it in which to file an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. If your claim is denied by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, you have 120 days from the date of that decision to appeal it.
Get Help With Veterans Disability Claim Denials in Houston
If your claim has been denied, it can be reopened with “new and material” evidence applying to the same condition. New evidence is information not given to the VA, and material evidence relates to an un-established fact that relates to the claim. When it comes to reopening a denied claim, an experienced Houston VA disability attorney is very helpful. The attorneys at The Law Offices Of M. Stanley Whitehead work diligently to protect the rights of veterans. Contact us today for a consultation on your claim denial.