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A disability claim or appeal to the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability system needs a lot of relevant, in-depth and official documentation in order to be taken seriously. Due to long wait times at the VA, you may be waiting for weeks or even months before learning that you need a few more pieces of evidence--and you may hear that request multiple times before an approval or denial. Although backpay is granted in the event of a claim approval, if you want to get medical care and access to the funds you deserve, consider a few traits of the VA system to understand what you might be missing.
Service-Connection Issues Can Slow Down Your Claim
At the core of all VA claims is the service-connection requirement. If your condition isn't connected to military in some way, you're simply not eligible for disability.
Although there are some complex exceptions, service-connection can be divided into two main categories. Either your condition began during your military service or a pre-existing condition was made significantly worse because of your military service.
Military service is a very broad definition that works in your benefit. It doesn't mean performing your official duty, being in combat or being on a military base; as long as you were part of the military as active duty, reserve duty or other military-related occupations covered by the VA, a condition related to that period of time is related to military service.
The hard part is bringing up proof that connects your condition to military service. The VA can't simply take your word for it; you'll need something along the lines of a medical record entry or civilian hospital report that proves your condition's connection to military service.
Finding Other Information That Counts
One issue with medical records is that there may not be enough information. It could have been because you were injured in an area that didn't have adequate staffing (or any staffing at all), or your paperwork could have been lost. You may have misunderstood or underestimated the complexity of the claim system by copying only a few pages that you thought to be relevant.
The first thing to do is to make a copy of your medical record. If you don't have it on hand, you can request a copy or the original record from the National Archives. If there isn't relevant information that could help, you can also search your service record for time and place information that puts you in the right area for certain conditions. One example is the Agent Orange exposure incident, which requires proof that you were in an area that held, processed or was affected by Agent Orange.
If you don't know where to look in your records, a team of personal injury lawyers could help. With their assistance, your information can be researched and compared against other veterans with similar issues. There could have been other veterans in similar areas or situations as you with similar symptoms, which can be used to show your suffering.
Get in contact with a personal injury legal team to begin discussing your appeal and ways to get through the claim system with success and higher disability ratings.