It can be dangerous to listen to the advice of those around you when it comes to questions about your veterans’ disability benefits. When you talk to friends and family, they might pass on some common myths and it is important to know if the information you receive is true or not. We use our experience with veterans’ disability law to debunk some of the more common myths here.
Beware of These Seven Myths
Some of the misinformation you might hear includes:
Myth #1: You had to be wounded in combat to qualify for disability benefits.
Truth #1: You may be a disabled veteran without suffering a gunshot wound or being hurt in an explosion. Veterans’ disability benefits cover any service-related medical condition, including pre-existing medical conditions that you can prove were worsened by your service. You may qualify for veterans’ disability if you were injured in a car accident, sexually assaulted, or injured in a fall accident outside of a combat situation, for example.
Myth #2: You make too much money to qualify for veterans’ disability benefits.
Truth #2: Disability compensation has nothing to do with income or assets. You can receive veterans’ disability benefits despite your resources. This compensation has nothing to do with whether you can work or whether you need the money to support yourself or your family (though this is often the case). Instead, it has to do with the Veterans’ Administration (VA) giving you compensation for the sacrifices to your health that you made for your country.
Myth #3: You can’t receive veterans’ disability benefits because you already receive Social Security disability benefits.
Truth #3: Even though the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs are both federal organizations, receiving payment for veterans’ compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not considered “double dipping.” SSDI is an insurance program set up for working individuals who are too disabled to work, and veterans’ compensation is for injured service members.
Myth #4: If you have a service-connected disability, it will be easy to get disability benefits.
Truth #4: Even if it seems like you have a clear-cut veterans’ disability case, and even if it is obvious that you suffer from a service-related health condition, you may not be approved for disability benefits. The application process can be a complicated one, and you must present evidence to prove that your health issues are directly connected to your time in the military.
Myth #5: You can’t receive any benefits if you have a non service-related injury.
Truth #5: Although you cannot receive veterans’ compensation if your disability is not connected to your time in the military, you may be able to receive non service-connected pension benefits. Also called improved pension, these benefits are available for severely disabled former service members who have little or no income.
Myth #6: It’s too late to apply for veterans’ disability.
Truth #6: It is not too late to apply for veterans’ disability benefits, and it is not too late to appeal a denied claim. We recently covered the story of a World War II veteran who received back payments for over 40 years of benefits after the VA wrongfully denied him compensation for a service-related hip injury. If you know that you suffer from a service-related disability and your doctor agrees, don’t stop fighting for the benefits you deserve!
Myth #7: If you are found to be disabled by the VA, then you are disabled forever.
Truth #7: Disabilities are not considered permanent and disability ratings can change over a person’s life. If your health improves, you have a responsibility to let the VA know about your current condition. In the same way, if your health deteriorates over time, you may be eligible for more compensation.
Are you wondering about other veterans’ disability myths? Do you have a question about your own disability claim? Contact us today so that we can help you debunk more common VA benefits myths and get you the support you need and deserve.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.