I’ve Been Trying To Get My Service-Connected Disability Claim Approved For Quite Some Time, And Today I Just Received Another Denial. Should I Go Forward With This Claim, Or Start With A New One?

It’s impossible to give an opinion without knowing all of the details of your veterans’ disability claim. In order to fully answer your question, based on the unique facts of your claim, we would suggest scheduling a case review with our firm so that we can get a more complete picture of your situation and then discuss the options that are available to you.

When a Veterans’ Disability Case Can be Reopened

A veterans’ disability claim can only be reopened if:

  • Your claim was denied and the decision is final. In other words, the time to appeal the denial has expired.
  • There is new and material evidence for you to present to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). New evidence is evidence that you have not yet presented to the VA in connection with your claim and material evidence is evidence that is directly relevant to your claim.

All of these conditions must be met for a veterans’ disability claim to be reopened.

Some Claims Can’t Be Reopened

Regardless of the specific facts of your claim, there are some types of claims that definitely aren’t eligible for reopening. For example, you may not reopen:

  • Claims that aren’t for service-connected disability benefits, survivor benefits, or burial benefits
  • Claims for pensions or an adjustment to your disability rating. In these situations you must file a new claim.
  • Claims that haven’t gone far enough in the VA system. Reopening a claim is a last resort for veterans who’ve exhausted every level of appeal or missed the appeal-filing deadline.

Additionally, if you lack new and material evidence, your claim will not be reopened.

Make the Move That Is Right for You

Your goal is to get the veterans’ disability benefits you deserve. Persuading the VA to reopen a disability claim can be difficult without an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced with the system. Please call us directly or contact us through this website if you have any questions about your own claim.

I Am A Navy Veteran. Could I Suffer An Asbestos-Related Illness And Could Veterans’ Benefits Help Me If I Become Sick?

Many Navy veterans are concerned about asbestos exposure, and with good reason. Symptoms from exposure-related illnesses can take 20 to 50 years to manifest. Unfortunately, by this point, illnesses have usually progressed to advanced stages. Thus, it is important for Navy veterans to know if they may have been exposed to asbestos, to know what health conditions could develop because of that exposure, and to understand the veterans’ disability benefits they may receive if they become sick.

How Asbestos Was Used in Navy Ships

Until restrictions were placed on its use in the 1970s, asbestos offered a heat- and fire-resistant building material that was both inexpensive and durable. Though it was most often used in areas that needed a degree of heat resistance, U.S. Naval vessels of the era used the material in hundreds of applications: from boiler rooms and ammunition storage rooms to bunkers and the mess hall.

The most hazardous areas of U.S. Naval vessels for asbestos exposure were below deck. Navy veterans with the most exposure risk will have spent a lot of time in the lower areas of the ship, such as the:

  • Engine room
  • Boiler room
  • Pump room

However, asbestos-sealed wiring and pipes were often exposed for ease of access throughout the ship—meaning it was possible for a veteran to sleep in a bunker beneath materials that were regularly shedding asbestos fibers.

The Dangers of Asbestos Exposure

People who are exposed to asbestos may breathe in the tiny asbestos fibers and suffering lung-related illnesses, such as:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma

All of these conditions are serious and require a prompt medical diagnosis and quick treatment.

Veterans’ Benefits May Help If You Become Sick

If you are a veteran who was not dishonorably discharged, were exposed to asbestos while in military service, and have developed an asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible to receive veterans’ disability benefits. Our experienced disability lawyers will work hard to get you the full benefits you deserve. Please contact us via this website or by phone today to learn more.

Will I Have An Attorney At My Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing?

This may seem like a simple question with a very obvious answer, but it is one of the first questions you should always ask a disability attorney during your initial consultation.

The reason you should ask the question is because many other law firms will have a paralegal or a non-attorney represent you at your hearing rather than a licensed attorney with experience in Social Security disability law.

Why Isn’t This Good Enough?

Paralegals who work for disability law firms are very knowledgeable about Social Security disability law and they provide valuable work on Social Security disability claims. However, we strongly feel that an attorney consistently provides superior representation for our clients at disability appeal hearings.

Don’t Be Caught by Surprise

Many Social Security disability claimants have described situations where they worked with a law firm that did not tell them an actual attorney would not represent them until they arrived at the Office of Adjudication and Review (ODAR) on the day of their hearing. Your claim is too important for this type of surprise.

If you have an upcoming Social Security disability appeal hearing, you deserve to know exactly what will happen and who will be with you at the hearing. Our attorneys will prepare you for the hearing and be with you every step of the way so that your rights can be protected and you can get the benefits you deserve.

It doesn’t cost you any more to have a board-certified, experienced disability lawyer represent you than it does to have a paralegal or a non-attorney advocate represent you. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact our firm if you are appealing a Social Security disability claim. Please reach out to us via this website or by phone at your convenience to learn more about how we can help you through the Social Security disability appeals process.

One Of My Buddies Had A C&P Exam, And He Didn’t Like The VA Doctor. He Said The Questions Made Him Feel Uncomfortable, Like The Doctor Didn’t Believe Him. How Should I Respond If I Feel The Same Way At My C&P Exam?

It’s not at all unusual for a veteran to feel the way your friend did about the interview segment of a C&P—or Compensation and Pension—Exam.

The first thing you should remember is that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) physician handling the exam is trying to obtain the best possible understanding of your situation. Because of this, the questions he or she asks will generally be with the purpose of determining or confirming the following:

  • The details of your health condition
  • How your health condition impacts your day-to-day life
  • If and how the health condition is related to your time in the service

Many of the questions in the C&P interview might make you feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, or like the doctor doesn’t trust you. However, no matter how the questions make you feel, keep in mind the following:

  • It’s important to the success of your claim that you are honest and responsive. Don’t overstate the impact of your condition, but don’t underestimate it, either. Take as much time as you need to give detailed and thoughtful answers.
  • Always treat the physician with respect, no matter how you feel about him personally. Shutting down will hurt your claim tremendously.

You are allowed to bring a friend or family member with you to the exam if that makes you more comfortable. However, your friend or family member cannot answer questions on your behalf. The physician wants to hear from you.

Keep in mind that the VA encourages you to report any negative experiences with your C&P physician examiner as soon as possible. You can do that by contacting the physician’s supervisor, a VA patient advocate, or by calling the number on your appointment letter.

If you need more help in preparing for a C&P exam or any other aspect of the veterans’ disability claims process, please contact our experienced veterans disability benefits attorney for a no-cost consultation today.

The VA Established A Service-Connection For My Disability Several Years Ago, But I Only Found Out Recently. Could I Potentially Be Awarded Veterans’ Disability Compensation Back Pay Dating Back To When The Adjustment Was Made?

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a legal obligation to notify veterans of policy changes that could potentially affect their eligibility for VA disability benefits compensation, such as establishing a service-connection for certain long-term injuries and disabilities.

However, even when a veteran is able to unambiguously prove that the VA failed to contact him with this crucial information, the department will not issue an effective date earlier than the one they will receive when actually submitting their application for veterans’ disability compensation.

Several veterans have tried to argue the case that they would have applied for disability benefits at a much earlier point in time if they’d known that they might have been eligible for benefits. So far, no one has won a case of this nature and veterans only receive back pay with respect to their first accepted application for VA disability benefits.

There Is One Significant Exception to This General Rule

An important exception exists for Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. Agent Orange is an herbicide that was used to clear trees and brush during the Vietnam War. At the time that it was used, service members were told that it was harmless. However, since 1991 the United States Congress has recognized that Agent Orange has caused significant health problems for veterans.

If you are a Vietnam veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam, it is possible that you may be able to obtain an earlier effective date. Typically, the veteran is awarded back pay to the date the health condition was officially linked by the VA to Agent Orange exposure.

If you are a veteran struggling to get the VA disability benefits you and your family need for support, then you should discuss your case with an experienced disability veterans’ benefits attorney. Contact us today for more information about your rights and the potential benefits you may receive.

I Was Honorably Discharged From The Army In November Due To Injuries I Sustained After An IED Explosion. I Keep Having Arguments With My Wife, Who Thinks I Have PTSD. I Feel Like I Don’t Have Anyone I Can Talk To Who Understands. How Can I Connect With Other Veterans, Now That I’m Back Home?

You are not alone. A lot of veterans cope with some degree of isolation in the months after being discharged, especially when mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression surface. Because conditions of this nature have been intensely stigmatized in the past, many veterans will be reluctant to seek help until they’ve met someone who is also dealing with a similar condition.

You Can Get Through This With Fellow Veterans

Fortunately, you seem to be aware that making a few good social connections will help with both your outlook and your recovery process. Here are a few ways you can connect with other veterans in Texas, and around the country:

  • Search for veterans’ communities on social networking sites. Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have resources to help veterans connect. All it will cost you is the time it takes to make an account.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a webpage called Make the Connection. On this website, you can search for stories on veterans who’ve been in situations similar to your own. You’ll also find support and resources page where you can search for Texas Vet Centers and events and information on how to deal with specific life events an experiences.
  • Check in with your regional VA office. They may have specific groups of veterans that meet regularly and welcome new members.
  • Talk to your doctor or spiritual advisor. Your doctor or spiritual advisor may be able to point you to groups in your area that could help you.

It’s important for veterans to understand that they don’t have to face post-military life alone. In addition to seeking out support from other veterans, the veterans’ disability attorneys at Morgan & Weisbrod offer private, no-cost consultations to Texas veterans trying to obtain disability benefits. Connect with us to learn more.

My Daughter’s IQ Score Is Just A Little Too High To Qualify For An Intellectual Disability. She Can’t Hold Down A Menial Job For More Than A Few Weeks. Could She Still Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Yes, your daughter may qualify for Social Security disability benefits even if her IQ is not quite low enough to qualify her as having an intellectual disability. However, building a compelling case for Social Security disability benefits will involve a lot of legwork and a thorough knowledge of how the Social Security disability system works.

Borderline Intellectual Functioning

If your daughter’s IQ is between 71 and 84, she is in the range of borderline intellectual functioning (BIF). People with BIF do not have an intellectual disability for purposes of Social Security disability benefits, and if a lower-than-average IQ score is her only issue, then she won’t be able to obtain benefits.

However, if your daughter has mental functional capacity issues that extend beyond her IQ score, she may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

How to Help Your Child Prove That She Qualifies for Social Security Disability

Before you have your child apply for Social Security disability, it is important to gather all of the information that will be relevant to her application, including:

  • Medical evidence, including a mental Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form completed by her primary physician.
  • Statements from teachers, former supervisors, and anyone who has instructed, trained, or worked with your daughter.
  • Job and education-related assessments and reviews.
  • Any documentation describing disciplinary action or reasons for discharge from former employers that will support your claims of her other limitations.

You may also want to seriously consider hiring an experienced disability attorney to help you navigate the challenges of proving your daughter’s disability claim in spite of these special circumstances. To learn more, call Morgan & Weisbrod today. Our compassionate and skilled team is here to answer your questions and to help your daughter get the disability benefits she deserves.

I’m A Veteran Who Had A Bad Fall During My Final Tour And Hurt My Knee. At The Time, I Didn’t Report It, So It Isn’t On My Military Record. The Problem Has Gotten Worse. I Need To File A VA Disability Claim. Do I Have Any Chance Of Being Successful?

It’s possible that you will be able to receive a favorable decision from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on a disability claim for your knee injury. Unfortunately, because the injury resulted from an unreported incident, it will be more difficult to obtain benefits.

You Will Need to Prove That You Have a Service-Connected Injury

Showing proof that the injury-causing event occurred during your service career will be as important to your claim as medical records thoroughly documenting the diagnosis and extent of the actual injury.

It can be difficult to establish a service-connected injury when the incident that caused your injury isn’t in your service record, but it is possible to do so. In order to prove this you can:

  • Reach out to other service people who were present at the time of your injury who can support your claim. Any statements you can gather from associates who witnessed the incident will benefit your claim.
  • Submit your medical records. You will, of course, need to do this anyway to prove that you were injured. However, your medical records may contain useful information about how or when you were hurt and that can help you establish that your knee injury is a service-connected injury.
  • Seek the advice of an experienced veterans’ disability attorney. An unreported incident resulting in a long-term injury or disability constitutes a special circumstance that will make the VA claims process infinitely more difficult to navigate. Knowledgeable legal guidance will not only help get your case on track, but will also significantly improve the likelihood of obtaining the best possible outcome.

To learn more about the services Morgan & Weisbrod provides Texas veterans, call our offices today. Our compassionate and dedicated team is here to help you get the veterans’ disability benefits you deserve.

I’m Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits And Will Face Intense Financial Hardships If It Takes More Than Four Months To Start Getting Benefits. Can I Apply For Presumptive Disability Benefits To Fill The Gap?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. The six-month presumptive disability temporary benefits program is only available to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants who meet low-income criteria established by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

As you already know, the wait time to hear back on a Texas Social Security disability insurance claim can take many months. While presumptive disability benefits may not be an option for you, there may be ways for you to speed up the Social Security disability claims processing period.

Three Options to Consider

There are a few fast-track options available to Social Security disability applicants, but in order to qualify you must be dealing with an extremely severe diagnosis or a terminal illness to qualify. These programs include the:

  1. Compassionate Allowances program. This is a fast track process for patients with conditions on the SSA compassionate allowances impairment listing. Qualifying applicants may receive a decision about Social Security disability in as little as 10 days.
  2. Terminal Illness program (TERI). This is a program that expedites decisions on claims where the illness is anticipated to result in the claimant’s death.
  3. Quick Disability Determination process. This method uses sophisticated software to determine the likelihood of an approval decision. The SSA determines which cases qualify for this type of review based on the severity of the claim. Decisions may come down in 20 days or less.

Remember that you are not alone during this challenging time. To help improve your odds of obtaining all of the Social Security benefits you qualify for without unnecessary delays or other problems, speak with an experienced disability lawyer today. Also, you can download a free copy of our book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, for additional information about protecting your rights.

When Should I Consider Hiring A Disability Lawyer To Assist Me In My Veterans’ Disability Benefits Case?

It used to be that most Texas veterans could complete their initial veterans’ disability applications without even needing to consider an attorney’s representation.

While it could be argued that this is still the case for many veterans, issues like the backlog in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the difficulties of substantiating disabilities related to neurological or emotional health are changing the general rule. Now, some veterans are deciding to talk to an attorney before their initial filing for disability benefits to ensure everything is on track.

This Can Be a Smart Decision

It might be a good idea to consider hiring an experienced veterans’ disability attorney if:

  • You know from the outset that it will be difficult to substantiate your claim that a disability exists or is service-connected.
  • Your disabilities result from an unreported sexual assault.
  • You are filing a disability claim more than five years after leaving the service for an issue that was not documented before you left.
  • An agent from a veterans’ service organization recommends your case would benefit from you hiring an attorney.
  • You will require a discharge upgrade to receive the necessary benefits.

Additionally, if you have already applied for benefits and been denied or you disagree with your disability ratings score, it is important to hire an attorney to help you protect your rights during the appeals process.

Don’t Worry About Calling a Disability Lawyer Too Early

You aren’t making any commitment by contacting an attorney. If we believe you can handle filing a veterans disability claim on your own, we will tell you that. Likewise, if we believe we can help you get the veterans disability benefits you deserve, we will explain how we can do that.

The disability attorneys of Morgan & Weisbrod have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you get your veterans disability benefits case on track and headed toward the best possible outcome. Please contact us any time—via this website or by phone—for more information about how to protect your rights.

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