Many disabled veterans leave the military after serving their country, expecting to receive the appropriate benefits entitled to them. They leave their service suffering from injury or disease, caused directly by their job and yet they find they are not receiving the right compensation. This all comes down to how the VA determines disability rating, but also often a lack of guidance given.
There are hundreds of different circumstances veterans can find themselves in after their service ends. From being suddenly homeless to living with life-changing conditions that require home adaptations, needing help with education and training to transition into a new work role in society, and many other scenarios that require specific support be put in place.
For spouses and dependents of veterans, too, there are also various situations that they find themselves in. Some of these are taken care of by long term care benefits that many do not even know about. So, what is the deal?
Complicated, lengthy and unknown
These three words are how many veterans and their loved ones would describe the VA disability benefits system. The problem with it is that the process of submitting evidence to support your claim for your condition is often laborious in itself, but then the rating system that makes up the other half of the claim is also often hard to get one’s head around.
The rating is a number from 0-100% increasing in increments of 10%, which is given to disabled veterans concerning measuring the severity of their condition. However, the complication with this process is that if the veteran has more than one illness, their ratings are not combined but yet it is referred to as a combined ratings table.
Many veterans are also rated incorrectly, and so, spend years surviving on fewer benefits than they should be entitled to. A decision to overturn the initial rating can take years sometimes and there is then the added complication of many veterans and their families not even knowing what they are entitled to.
On top of the benefits they do know about, veterans may be entitled to other grants that they are unaware of as the system is so tricky to understand, and these additional things set in place to help are not commonly spoken about. These could include clothing allowances for damage to garments by prosthetic and orthopedic devices, or grants for temporary accommodation or home adaptations.
The forgotten benefit: updated ratings
Then, there is the issue of the often unspoken or forgotten about benefit for veterans: the updated rating. What exactly does this mean? Well, many veterans simply apply for compensation as they leave the military, finally get the correct benefit they are entitled to, and then think no more about it.
However, they will be in the majority in unwittingly carrying on with worsening symptoms, despite being entitled to more compensation for their conditions over time. This is because, just as their condition will deteriorate over time, they will, in turn, be rightly entitled to more benefits to support this change in their wellbeing.
So, they should then be applying for an updated rating, however, many will be unaware of this – or, be deterred by the bureaucracy of the process in their already challenging situation. Nonetheless, they should be enlisting the help of a legal expert so that they can do all of the hard work on their behalf and fight for what they are entitled to.
There are so many deserving disabled veterans in the US who are suffering without the right financial support in place. This needs to change and only when the word is spread and veterans are empowered to incite change in their circumstances can this truly happen.