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4 Mistakes Veterans Make When They’re Approved

For most Veterans, the disability process is long and frustrating. When a Veteran gets approved, they are usually relieved that the journey is over. However, the journey isn’t necessarily over when you are approved. There are still several things a Veteran may need to do once their claim is approved. Here are the 4 most common mistakes Veterans make after their VA Disability claim is approved.

  1. They stop getting treatment. Treatment is one of the most important parts of any VA Disability claim. If your claim is approved, there is a good chance you had a lot of medical treatment to support your claim(s). However, once they’re approved, many Veterans stop getting treatment.  This can be bad for two reasons. For one, an approval does not mean that your condition goes away. Regardless of whether you have a physical disability or a mental disability, you should continue treating because your condition could worsen without treatment. The other issue with stopping treatment arises if the VA proposes a decrease in your benefits. It’s easier to argue against a decrease if you have medical evidence to support your claim. Medical evidence post-approval will help even more.
  2. They let other claims slip. Most Veterans file for multiple disabilities, and it’s rare for those claims to get approved at the same time. So, if you’re approved for a claim for your back condition, don’t let your PTSD claim slip. It’s important to continue your other claims because, if they are approved, they can help your overall combined rating.
  3. They settle for less than they deserve. It’s difficult to get a claim approved, but often when the VA approves a claim, they approve it for a lower percentage. For instance, you filed for PTSD and the VA rates you at 30%, but, you have evidence that supports a 70% rating. Many Veterans worry they’ll lose the initial rating once they file an appeal. However, that’s not necessarily true. You will continue to receive your monthly payment that you were approved for, in addition to any back pay that you were eligible for. If you wonder how you’ll know if you deserve a higher rating, you may want to consider getting help from an accredited VA Disability attorney.
  4. They fail to add or update dependent information. Once a Veteran reaches 30% service connection, he or she can claim dependents and the VA will add to their compensation. You can get additional compensation for each dependent. So, if you have multiple children, a spouse, or a dependent parent, you can receive compensation for each individual. You may also claim your children as dependents up until the age of 23 if they are in school full time. However, once your children reach the age of 18, you must show proof to the VA that they are still in school. Also, if you are no longer married and your current spouse is on your dependents claim, it is very important that you let the VA know to avoid any type of overpayment.

If you worry about mistakes you may make once you’re approved, you might benefit from having an attorney help you get approved. Thousands of Veterans have turned to the VA Disability attorneys at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. Call us today to see what we can do for you. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can call you at a better time.

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The Best Kept Secret at the VA: The Debt Management Center

An overpayment may be a concern, but Veterans have options.

If you are a Veteran who has applied for VA disability compensation, you already know that few aspects of the process are pleasant. This is especially true if you’ve ever been involved in a situation that led to calling the VA’s 1-800 number. Some Veterans have shared stories in which they’ve been placed on hold for hours, or even been given false information. To say the least, most Veterans don’t enjoy calling the VA for help. But in some situations, calling is necessary—but it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as you might think.

There are some cases in which a Veteran may receive an overpayment. One of the most common situations results when a Veteran receives severance pay from the military, and then later receives VA disability compensation. In some instances, the Veteran may have to pay back their severance pay in order to receive their monthly compensation. Another instance that is common involves dependents. For instance, if you were married when you were granted benefits, but failed to notify the VA of a divorce, the VA may have overpaid you. This can amount to thousands of dollars’ worth of overpayments. The VA will want that money back. So, what are you to do?

There is a helpline operated by the VA that is very helpful. It’s not a myth. It exists, and it may help you when you are in dire need of help. This helpful center within the VA is the Debt Management Center. It’s located in St. Paul Minnesota, and they have helped many of the Veterans our firm has referred to them.

We’ve dealt with the VA Debt Management Center directly many times since we started representing Veterans a decade ago. Also, several of our clients have had positive interactions with VA Debt Management. We’ve seen instances in which they’ve helped a Veteran in need who could not pay back an overpayment. They actually work with Veterans to help resolve the issue. So, instead of having to pay back a $1,000.00 overpayment with one month’s check, the VA may make arrangements for you to pay a smaller amount over several months.

This probably won’t surprise any Veteran, but the VA makes mistakes. Sometimes they will say that you owe them money even though you don’t. In this circumstance, the VA Debt Management Center will do what they can to fix the issue.

One of the best things is that the VA Debt Management Center has a direct line. You may still have to wait when you call them, but it shouldn’t be as long a wait as if you called the main 1-800 number. They even outline on their website the best time to call, and explain that the first Monday of every month is their highest day for call volume. They are even open on Saturdays to take calls. If you need to call them, their number is 1-800-827-0648.

If you do find that you have an overpayment, do not ignore the issue. The Debt Management Center will work with you. There are options. We discussed making payments earlier, but there are some situations in which they will waive an overpayment. This doesn’t always occur, but it is a possibility. In some situations, you may even be able to request a hearing.

Overpayments can be frustrating, but the VA is usually accommodating. If you would like to know more about this subject, or if you would like to know more about the services we offer, call us today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that a member of our team can call you at a later time.

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Rural Veterans Face High Suicide Risk

Veterans living in rural areas face a higher suicide risk than their urban counterparts.

Most national reports state that, on average, 22 Veterans take their lives every day. Obviously, this is an alarming rate, and that number may actually be on the rise. However, many people don’t realize which Veterans are at risk. Some suggest that Veterans with depression and/or PTSD are more at risk, but simply saying that Veterans with mental health issues are at risk for suicide is too broad. There are a lot of Veterans who suffer from PTSD and depression, and there are varying degrees of severity for both conditions. Many Vets are able to manage the symptoms of their mental health conditions with medication or other alternative treatments. Simply stated, a diagnosis of either condition or both does not mean a Vet is at risk for suicide. Instead, there needs to be more data to show other factors. Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs released data to show geographic factors that can contribute to higher suicide rates among the Veterans community. The news is dire for Veterans who live in rural areas.

Recently the VA released data on suicide rates by state for the first time. The study found the following states are among the highest for Veteran suicides: Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. The four states mentioned averaged 60 per 100,000 individuals or higher, which is far above the national Veteran suicide rate of 38.4. In other words, the rates in those four states are nearly twice that of the rest of the country. The VA found that other states with high suicide rates, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, also have the highest rates of opioid use.

When compared to their civilian counterparts, female Vets are two and a half times more likely to commit suicide, and male Veterans are at an even higher risk. The suicide rate among male Veterans is 19% higher than in civilian males. Age is also a contributing factor for many Veterans, with VA reporting that 65% of Veterans who commit suicide are 65 or older.

Suicide rates for individuals who live in rural areas aren’t just an issue for Veterans. As a whole, people living in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide than those who live in urban areas. One main reason is a lack of access to medical care. Some reports state that there is also more of a stigma attached to mental health conditions in rural areas.

In addition to a lack of medical care and the stigma associated mental health issues in rural areas, there are other reasons that Veterans in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide. One such reason pertains to the isolation Veterans may experience in rural areas. Many Veterans struggle to find other individuals with shared similar experiences, especially for those Vets who served in combat. There are fewer social organizations, like the VFW, for Veterans to find companionship.

While this news is disturbing, the fact that VA is doing research and producing reports means that they are trying to identify problems and create solutions. If you are struggling with PTSD, depression, or a TBI, you may be able to get compensation for your disabilities. Pursuing a claim can be very frustrating. If you’d like to learn what an attorney can do for you, give Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law a call today for a Free consultation. The toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that a representative can contact you at a better time.

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How a Prehearing Helps Your VA Disability Claim

VA Attorney Heather Vanhoose discusses VA Law with a Veteran of the USMC

When individuals are asked to recall the last time they felt really nervous, many situations come to mind. Perhaps it was a wedding or joining the military, or even buying a home for the first time. What do all of these situations have in common, besides their ability to induce a case of nerves? They happen with the help of others. Weddings include a new spouse. Many who join the military joined with a friend or quickly got to know individuals while they were in boot camp. Those buying their first home likely turned to their family and friends for help. While scholars like Robert D. Putnam assert that our society is becoming more isolated, most still tend to approach uncertain situations with others.

In a VA Disability claim, Veterans can feel isolated and alone. This is especially true for those who attempt to pursue claims on their own. The complexity of the VA disability process can often spell failure for those trying to navigate the process on their own. But many Veterans turn to the legal team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law for guidance. Our attorneys and staff pride themselves on customer service and the ability to help Veterans at every stage of their claim, including attending a hearing for the first time.

One way in which the Jan Dils Legal Team helps Veterans alleviate the stress of a hearing is by holding a prehearing. Think of a prehearing like a practice test or a wedding rehearsal. In its simplest form, a prehearing is a structured conversation with an attorney to prepare the Veteran for his or her hearing. It’s like getting tips from Tom Brady prior to starting the Super Bowl, or Gordon Ramsey working as your sous chef. During a prehearing, the attorney advises the Veteran on everything from the temperament of a judge or decision review officer to how to dress. It may seem silly to advise someone on how to dress, but it can help alleviate a lot of stress if you know what to wear in advance. Since 1994 this team has represented thousands of individuals in cases, and they know what questions come up most often.

Speaking of questions, the attorneys also use this time to answer any questions the Veteran has prior to the hearing. For instance, attorney Heather Vanhoose may be asked about specific questions to expect during the hearing. Attorney Angie Lowe is often asked how to navigate the VA Reginal Office during her prehearings. They also use this time to answer questions about how the hearing will take place. A lot of Vets have more concerns if the hearing takes place via video as opposed to in person. So they address this as well.

It’s normal for a Veteran to be nervous before a hearing. In all honesty, most attorneys were nervous before their first hearing, too. It helps to meet with someone who has been through the process before. These attorneys aren’t volunteers. They have a vested interest in the cases they argue. They are also passionate about law. A Veteran interested in learning more about the services available at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law should call 1-877-526-3457 for a Free Consultation. If this isn’t a convenient time to talk on the phone, fill out this form and someone will reach you at a better time.

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What Does Evidence Mean In A VA Disability Claim?

The Greek philosopher Socrates once stated, “The beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms.” While some detractors state that this quote is ubiquitous, others call it timeless. Regardless of how you interpret the quote, you’ll likely agree that conflict and confusion can result from failure to understand and define terms. And one term that is often misunderstood when it comes to VA disability is “evidence”.

Due in large part to the emergence of legal dramas in pop culture, the noun “evidence” is omnipresent. When most think of the term, they think of a blood-splattered glove or “exhibit B” on the latest episode of Law and Order. When applied to Veterans disability, evidence is not as complicated. The following examples will help clarify how evidence is incorporated in a VA disability claim.

The first, and arguably most important, example of evidence is that of medical records. A Veteran’s medical records paint a picture of his or her time in service and provide a roadmap of their medical journey since discharge. Medical records are forms of evidence that prove a Veteran has been diagnosed with a specific condition, has been treated for that condition, and can also prove the extent of an injury or medical condition. Medical records can also confirm the date in which a condition was diagnosed.

While medical records are an important form of evidence for a VA disability claim, they aren’t the only type of evidence that can be submitted for a claim. Administration records are another form of evidence. Most Veterans who served will confirm that the military keeps track of their every move. Some will say, in a hyperbolic fashion, that the military even keeps track of their sneezes. While this sentiment is meant to be humorous, it shows how aware military personnel are of their administrative records. The military keeping such a watchful eye on individuals can help establish where they were when a condition occurred. This, too, is evidence, and can help prove that a Veteran was in an area in which Agent Orange was sprayed, for example. The legal team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law has used this type of evidence in countless cases to verify an individual’s location during the Vietnam War and succeeded in getting them the benefits they deserve. The use of administrative records as evidence does not stop there. Sometimes the VA will argue that an injury is not related to a Veteran’s time in service. If this occurs, a Veteran’s administrative records may verify that an injury occurred while serving. Also, if he or she has military medical records to confirm this claim, they too can be used as evidence.

Statements in support of the claim are a final example of evidence. The layman may refer to this type of evidence as a “buddy statement.” Essentially, a buddy statement is simply a witness statement claiming that a Veteran had an injury in service, or that someone witnessed the injury occur. For example, the Veteran who is filing the claim states that he or she was injured due to a rocket-propelled grenade attack. He or she states that their head injuries are a direct result of this blast. However, his or her administrative records are not able to confirm this claim because it happened in the middle of combat. This Veteran can turn to his or her fellow Veterans who served alongside for a statement. Their statement can be used as evidence to prove that the blast occurred, and possibly caused the head injury. These statements may also be provided by non-Veterans, too.

There are other types of evidence that can be used for a VA Disability Claim, but the examples covered here are the most common. Veterans reading this post need not fear the terminology used by the VA. They likely have more than enough evidence to prove their claims. Sometimes they just need a little help to find it. For this reason and more, many Veterans turn to the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. Since 2008, we’ve helped thousands of Veterans get the disability benefits they deserve.

Socrates also said, “Every action has its pleasures and its prices.” This can apply to calling Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law for a VA Disability Claim Consultation. The pleasure involves learning about the services they provide and possibly gaining peace of mind for your case. The price, though, is free. Just call 1-877-526-3457. If you don’t have time to talk currently, fill out this form and a member of the team can contact you at a better time.

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5 Things All Vets Can Do To Benefit Their VA Disability Claim In 2018

Your VA Claim can be frustrating, but having an understanding of the process can relieve a lot of stress.

Now that 2018 is underway, it’s time to get your VA Disability Claim into shape. But, where do you start? You probably feel like a lot of what happens with your claim is out of your control. While some things are beyond your control,  there are still some steps you can take to keep your case on track for the New Year. Use this list as a guide to help you get the benefits you deserve:

  1. Seek treatment. This should be at the top of your list every year. In fact, if you read much of the content on this site, or from the VA, you’ll see that medical treatment is the most important aspect of any case. Maybe you are already being treated. But do you continue to treat your conditions after they are approved? Too often Veterans quit treating after they receive a favorable decision. This can cause a problem if the VA attempts to reduce your benefits down the road. If you’re facing a reduction, and the VA finds that you haven’t treated for your service connected condition in years, it will be difficult to argue against the reduction.
  2. Ask questions. Our firm has been practicing VA Disability Law for more than a decade. We know that the process can be frustrating. We get frustrated, too. But, if you ask questions, you’ll almost always find the answer. For instance, the VA sends paperwork to our clients at the same time they send it to the firm. We both get copies of everything. If you’ve never filed for benefits before, this paperwork can be daunting. We often find that our clients become concerned when they get some documents. However, once they call us and we explain what the forms mean, they relax. A VCAA is a good example of this. This is a long letter that lists a lot of additional forms that need to be completed. It also claims that it must be submitted within a very short period of time. This can cause a lot of our clients to worry, but our case managers put them at ease once they explain that the latter is nothing to worry about, and we’re on top of it. If you have concerns, ask questions. We are happy to explain the process and let you know what you can expect every step of the way.
  3. Go to your C&P exams. A Compensation and Pension exam may seem the same as seeking treatment, but it’s very different. Remember that a C&P exam must be performed by the VA (sometimes they contract them out) while traditional treatment can be performed at any medical facility. If you don’t usually treat at the VA, this can be difficult or frustrating. You’re seeing an unfamiliar doctor who is likely asking you a lot of personal questions. It’s important to remember that a C&P Examiner is evaluating your case to determine service connection. His or her report will help the VA determine if your conditions warrant service connection and to what degree. Also, you may have more than one C&P exam. This is especially true if you have multiple conditions. Sometimes Veterans think they only need to go to one exam because they don’t realize that the others are for different conditions.
  4. Appeal your denials. Getting rejected hurts. When it comes to a VA disability, a denial can feel personal. The VA is claiming that a condition isn’t related to your time in service when you know for a fact that your condition is related to your service in the military. We understand that it’s upsetting, and we see it far too often. But it’s important not to let that stop you from appealing the decision. We’ve seen Veterans who have fought for more than 10 years eventually get their benefits. So, if you are denied, file the appeal.
  5. Consider getting help with your case. Just over a year from now, in 2019, some major changes will be taking place with VA Disability claims. They will make an already complicated process more complex than ever before. Some of those changes are rolling out early. If a Veteran makes the wrong move now, his or her claim may be delayed even longer. With uncertain times ahead, 2018 may be the best time for you to consider hiring an attorney. There is a lot an attorney can do for your claim besides represent you at a hearing. Attorneys can review your records, check for mistakes made by the VA, submit evidence, help obtain secondary opinions, and so much more. The right attorney can guide you through the process and make you feel at ease. And our firm goes even further. We have case managers to help answer questions, and a dedicated team trained in claims file review. They check for evidence as well as mistakes made by the VA. We also have professionals specializing in appeals, intake, and even hearings. An attorney may not be able to make your case go faster, but they can help you get approved.

To learn more about our services, call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather be contacted at a later time, fill out this form now so that a member of our team can reach out to you later.

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What Are The Basic Requirements to Receive VA Disability Benefits?

It’s hard to believe, but this blog is about to turn 6 years old! Thousands of people now read our content every month, and we’ve covered hundreds of topics. But,  with new readers joining us each month, we thought it would be a good idea to review some of the basics.

With that in mind,  what are some of the minimum requirements for a Veteran to receive VA Disability Compensation?

In order to receive VA Disability Compensation, the person applying must be a Veteran. That may seem obvious to most, but it’s not as black and white as it may seem. The reason? Not everyone who served in the military can be considered a Veteran. So who exactly is a Veteran? VA’s website offers the following explanation:

A Veteran is a person who served in active military, naval, or air service, and did not receive a dishonorable discharge. The latter part of this condition is met if you received a general, medical, or entry-level discharge. If you received any other type of discharge, the VA must determine that your discharge was other than dishonorable.

One situation that can cause confusion pertains to individuals who receive an Other Than Honorable discharge. VA states the following about OTH discharges:

Generally, in order to receive VA benefits and services, the Veteran’s character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions (e.g., honorable, under honorable conditions, general).  However, individuals receiving undesirable, bad conduct, and other types of dishonorable discharges may qualify for VA benefits depending on a determination made by VA.

So, a person has to be a Veteran to get VA Disability. But that is not the only requirement. A person pursuing a VA Disability claim must also have a disability, and that disability must be the result of time served in the military. The VA makes this point a little clearer:

Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to Veterans who are at least 10% disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Besides Veteran status and a disability related to military service, a VA disability claim must be for a chronic condition. For instance, a knee condition can only be pursued if the condition is currently an issue. So, if a Veteran had a condition for his or her knee in service, but ten years later he or she does not have residual issues because of that condition, their claim will not be approved.

If one meets these basic requirements, they are then eligible for VA Disability Compensation. However, getting to that point can be a long road filled with a lot of confusing detours. For help navigating that road, call the VA Disability team from Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law at 1-877-526-3457 for a Free Consultation. If you’d like to be called at a later time, fill out this form now and a member of our team can call you at a better time.

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Procrastination and Your VA Disability Claim

According to some researchers, procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years. Society places a stigma on those who procrastinate, with many viewing it as a lifestyle choice. Some may even label you as lazy for putting off tasks. However, there is additional research showing that procrastination can be based in fear rather than apathy. In fact, fear of failure is one of the leading reasons why people procrastinate. When it comes to VA disability, however, procrastination can cause your claim to close, resulting in the loss of your original backpay date. While it is bad to let your claim close, it’s not the end of the world. So, what happens if your claim closes?

To be clear, it’s always best to keep your claim open and make every effort to refrain from letting your disability claim close. There are many different timelines in the VA. At some stages, you have a year to file an appeal. In other situations, you only have 30 or 60 days to file an appeal. It’s important for Veterans to realize that reopening a claim does not reestablish your initial back pay date. Your new back pay date commences once your case is reopened.

However, if it does indeed close, it’s not the end of the road. Veterans can actually reopen their claims once they’ve closed. The process, unlike many things withMarine VA disability, is somewhat simple. There are a few steps that you have to take in order to properly reopen your claim. A Veteran can’t simply call the VA and say that they want to reopen their claim. Instead, you have to submit what the VA defines as new and material evidence.

Unless you have a legal background, you’re probably not familiar with that term. It may seem obvious, but new evidence is something that you haven’t submitted to the VA before. Do not resubmit medical records, statements, etc. that you’ve submitted before. For instance, a medical evaluation pertaining to your knee condition that you used when you originally filed your claim wouldn’t be considered new.

Material evidence is proof or testimony that has a significant relationship with the facts or issues of a case or inquiry and can affect its conclusion or outcome. In other words, your evidence has to pertain to the claim that you are reopening. For example, if your original claim was for your knees, the evidence you use to reopen your claim with must pertain to your knees. You can’t reopen your claim for your knees with a medical evaluation for a mental disability.

How do you obtain new and material evidence? Don’t let the phrase throw you off or intimidate you. It’s simple. New evidence can be new medical records, a new statement from a witness, often referred to as a “buddy statement,” or “statements in support of the claim,” or even new treatment like rehabilitation or therapy.  Work with your primary care doctor to obtain this new evidence. In some situations, your doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist.

Once again, it’s best to keep the claim open. While the deadlines can be confusing, there are options for Veterans. Many Vets turn to the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. The attorneys and staff can help you keep your case on track and prevent your claims from closing. If you’d like to learn more about the services available, call toll-free 1-877-526-3457. If you are unable to talk now, fill out this form so a representative can reach out to you at a more convenient time.

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6 Things You Probably Don’t Know About The United States Coast Guard

Ask individuals who haven’t served what their favorite branch of the military is, and the Army will likely come in first. The Marines and Navy will probably battle ithelicopter-615168_1920 out for a second, and a distant fourth will be the United States Air Force. Most people will associate their favorite with a friend or family members, who served in a specific branch. The Army has the most individuals enlisted, so it makes sense that it is first. The Marines are very tough, and the Navy defends our seas, so it makes sense that they are popular too. Oh, have you seen some of the equipment the Air Force has? It’s no wonder they’re popular. Honestly, every branch is cool for different reasons, and they all do so much to keep us safe. I also believe that any individual who signs up for any branch is quite brave. I also want to mention that I have close friends who have served in the Army and the Marines, so I can be a little biased there. Then again, I also have friends who served in the Navy and in the Air Force, so I guess were back at square one. So, which branch is my favorite?

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the United States Coast Guard yet. If you did notice, you are my kind of person. Too often the Coast Guard gets overlooked ad forgotten. Full disclosure, the Coast Guard is my favorite branch of the military, and I have my reasons. In honor of Coast Guard Day, here are 6 things you probably don’t know about The United States Coast Guard.

  1. The Coast Guard is not actually a part of the Department of Defense. All of the other branches of the military are a part of the Department of Defense, but the Coast Guard is actually a part of the Department of Homeland Security. What’s even more interesting is that the Coast Guard has been transferred quite a few times. In their 226 year history, The Coast Guard has been a part of several different agencies. Before it was called the United States Coast Guard, they were a part of the Department of the Treasury, and they were simply known as “The Cutters.” The year was 1790 and the Secretary of the Treasury decided to create a fleet of ships to enforce tariff laws. Do you know who the Secretary of the Treasury was back then? Well, he’s more popular in 2016 than any previous time in history. You may know him as “…the ten dollar founding father, who got a lot father by working a lot harder by working a lot smarter…” Alexander Hamilton. Since its founding, the Coast Guard has also been a part of the Depart of Transportation, Department of The Navy, and currently, the Department of Homeland Security.
  2. They aren’t just seaworthy, they fly too. The Coast Guard may have a small fleet of aircraft, but they do fly. Currently, there are 221 aircraft in the Coast Guard’s Inventory. They are used for search and rescue, personnel transport, Law Enforcement, Ice Cutting Services, and much more.
  3. The Coast Guard isn’t just on the coast; they patrol lakes and rivers too. For instance, last spring I took a trip to Cleveland. Right next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the Ninth Coast Guard District. They’re responsible for patrolling all five of the Great Lakes. Through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Coast Guard operates in all 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and America Samoa. Through the Auxiliary everything from boating safety to fishing vessel inspection is performed.
  4. The Dude abides. Jeff and Beau Bridges served in the US Coast Guard, as did Arnold Palmer. In the film, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Pine, and Kevin giphyCostner have all played Coast Guardsmen. The 2016 film The Finest Hours is based on actualevents that occurred in 1952.
  5. Despite what some people will tell you, the Coast Guard does serve in combat missions. A full list of the Coast Guard’s involvement in combat can be read here. An expert from the official Coast Guard Website explains their involvement in recent conflicts. As a prominent member of the new department, (Department of Homeland Security) US Coast Guard units deployed to Southwest Asia in support of the US-led coalition engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom early in 2003. At the height of operations, there was 1,250 Coast Guard personnel deployed, including about 500 reservists. This included two large cutters, a buoy tender, eight patrol boats, four port security units, law enforcement detachments and support staff to the Central (CENTCOM) and European (EUCOM) Command theaters of operation.
  6. Coast Guard Veterans are eligible for VA Disability Compensation. Though we don’t hear from a lot of Coast Guard Veterans, they are just like every other branch of the military when it comes to physical disabilities. Coasties have military occupations too, and a lot are very physical. If a Coast Guard Veteran was injured while on active duty, then they can file a claim for disability compensation. One area where there seems to be some confusion has to do with mental disabilities like PTSD. Though most Coast Guard Vets don’t serve in combat, PTSD is a very real possibility for many Guardsmen. I’ve talked to thousands of Veterans about their PTSD symptoms, and one of the worst stressors I recall came from a Coast Guard Vet. He was on a search and rescue team that had to respond to areas affected by hurricanes. The amount of death and destruction he witnessed was simply staggering. Though he was not in combat, his non-combat stressor was more than sufficient to get him service connected for PTSD. There’s not always a lot of information out there for Coast Guard Vets regarding disability compensation. If you served in the Coast Guard and have questions about compensation, call us, and we’ll be happy to help. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted by a member of our team at a different time, fill out this form now.

 

I really can’t pinpoint why I have such affection for the Coast Guard. I don’t have any friends who served in the Coast Guard, and, full disclosure, I’ve never seen any of the movies that Hollywood has made about them either. It honestly comes down to the work I do. While I don’t often get to talk to Veterans who have served in the Coast Guard, and when I do, it’s always an enjoyable experience. I’ve had a few Coasties tell me that my blog really helped them understand the disability process a lot more and that always makes me smile. I also feel that the Coast Guard is the forgotten branch of the military, and they don’t always get the accolades they deserve. I’ve seen countless military tributes that forgot to include the Coast Guard. Just last week I walked by the military recruitment center in our local mall and noticed that there was not an office for the Coast Guard there. Granted, we are in West Virginia, and there’s not a lot of demand for the Coast Guard here, so I understand.

Simply, the Coast Guard is pretty awesome. I enjoy every chance I get to talk to a Coast Guard Vet, and hopefully, this blog will help a few more of you realize you can get benefits.

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The 5 Most Common Issues Veterans Have with Dependents

It takes a long time for a VA Disability claim to get approved. It’s safe to say that everyone knows that by now. When you finally start getting compensated for dependents.  While it may seem like being compensated for your dependents should be easy, you can’t forget that we’re dealing with the VA. They’re not known for being user-friendly. In this blog, we will examine the 5 most common issues with dependents.

  1. Right from the start, the VA makes it difficult. Veterans who are only rated at 20% overall or below will not be compensated for VA disability. The VA states that you have to be rated at 30% overall or higher in order to be compensated for dependents. Nine out of 10 Veterans will tell you that they were not compensated at their highest level right off the bat. They’re generally rated low at first, and then later get an increase. So one reason that many Veterans aren’t getting compensated for their benefits is due to the fact they were originally rated at a lower percentage, and then later moved above the 30% threshold, but the VA neglected to add their dependents. This happens quite often. Here’s a tip: if you do move above the threshold, make sure you are being compensated for the right amount. Checking is actually quite easy. Just compare the amount you are receiving with the rate table found here.
  2. Think about all of the changes you’ve been through in the past four years. Personally, I’ve changed jobs, had a couple of different cars, and went from loving The Bing Bang Theory to thinking that the show is really condescending and preachy. There’s a pretty good chance that your life had more meaningful changes than mine did. Maybe you married the love of your life or brought a new person into this world. Regardless of what happened, there’s a good chance that your life is much different now than it was in 2012. The reason I’m being nostalgic has to do with your application for benefits. Everyone fills out the same thing when they apply. The form has a section where you list your dependents. If you applied when you were discharged, there’s a strong chance you weren’t married yet and didn’t have kids. If you applied later in life, maybe you divorced your spouse or had another child. It generally takes 2-4 years for a Veteran’s final decision to process. When that happens, the VA will use information from your original application to determine your dependents. If you’re not being compensated by the VA, you really wouldn’t have any need to notify them of a life change. If you do get approved a long time after you applied, take a few moments to review everything. Make sure you are getting everything you are entitled too.
  3. The next thing we have to talk about is children. For the record, talking about children is one of my least favorite subjects in the world, but I care so much about Veterans that I am going to talk about them anyway. All kidding aside, it’s really important to keep information about your children up to date. For instance, if I were to ask you; “How long can you claim a child as a dependent,” you’d likely reply “18.” While that is true in a lot of instances, it’s not true if your child is attending college. In that instance, you can actually claim your child until he or she is 22. You will just have to make sure that you provide proper documentation to prove that your child is still in school. Speaking of documentation, it’s important to note that you may have to provide a birth certificate, marriage certificates, or even proof of a divorce. Keep in mind that this is VA, so there is a good chance that you will have to provide this documentation more than once. Switching gears just a little bit here, we have to discuss who you can actually claim as a child. Currently, a Veteran can only claim a biological child, adopted child, or stepchild as a dependent child. Once again, just have the proper documentation to show proof.
  4. Did you know that children and spouses aren’t the only individuals that you can claim as a dependent? You can also claim a parent as a dependent. For instance, if your parent lives with you, and they are dependent upon you for their income, then you can claim them as a dependent. Actually, you can claim both parents as dependents if they are dependent upon you.
  5. Lastly, Veterans with helpless children can also claim them as dependents too. We need to clarify this a little bit, When we discuss this with some of our clients, confusion occasionally sets in. A helpless child is defined by the VA as the following:
  • the extent to which the child is physically or mentally deficient, such as the
  • the ability of the child to perform self-care functions, and
  • ordinary tasks expected of a child of that age
  • whether or not the child attended school and the maximum grade attended
  • if any material improvement in the child’s condition has occurred
  • if the child has ever been employed and, if so, the
  • nature and dates of such employment, and
  • the amount of pay received
  • whether or not the child has ever married,

A lot of people seem to think that taking care of an unemployed adult child makes them a helpless child. This is simply not true. If your adult child does not meet the above criteria, then they can’t be considered a dependent.

Why is all of this so important? Your monthly compensation can be much greater if you properly claim all of your dependants. However, failing to report a divorce or a child graduating college could also cost you. Keeping up with your dependents is actually easy now. You can actually update your dependent status by way of a premium e-benefits account. Remember, a premium account does not actually cost any money, it just requires more information to set up. However, if you’re working with an attorney, they can also make sure your information gets sent to the VA properly, and we can even argue effective dates for dependents too. For instance, if your child was born in May, but the VA didn’t start to compensate you until December, we can argue to get your back pay back to the proper month.

Thanks for reading, but we’d love to hear from you. Call us today to talk about your case. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457, or fill out this form so that a representative can call you at a more convenient time.

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