Veterans Affairs (VA) administrative offices are dealing with a massive backlog of claims. The backlog is nothing new, but a new generation of veterans emerges with every new conflict to shed light on a frustrating system. However, it's possible to achieve success, even if you're the newest to the backlog. If you're an ailing veteran with service-connected injuries or other conditions, take a look at what you need to do to make your claim or appeal stand out.
The biggest part of a successful VA disability claim or appeal is the strength of your service-connected proof. A service connection is anything that links your injuries, mental conditions, or any other issues to military service. This means that, in some way, you have to prove that the military caused the problem you're complaining about now.
The VA doesn't give disability pay for issues that happened before or after the military, although they will gladly direct you to the proper organization and may even assist you with filing the proper paperwork via local officials. Some preexisting conditions that became worse because of your military service may be eligible, but gaining that kind of proof can be difficult and will likely require an exact incident that can be cited on official paperwork.
Unfortunately, the VA can't simply take your word for it. Even if you started your VA paperwork in your last few months of military service and talked about a problem you had while still in uniform, there must be official documentation. This means that your military medical record must have an entry from a medical official saying "this person has this problem."
A less potent, but still valid, form of evidence is complaining about the issue. A simple complaint won't be a guarantee of disability compensation, but at least the VA will know that you didn't randomly make up a problem once you left the military. It's a form of fraud that happens, and although fraud is illegal, some veterans take advantage of the opportunity to take a chance and see if the VA accepts their information, since the VA is most likely to simply deny the claim anyway.
Get Help from an Attorney
If you've been denied, it's likely because your evidence was missing, your problem didn't seem severe enough, or the VA didn't believe your story. Returning to the fraud example, it's not unheard of for veterans to throw out a last-minute claim to see what happens. But what happens if a veteran is truly injured at their last duty station? What if it was that injury that drove their decision to get out of the military instead of committing to a few more years? It happens, and if you're caught in such a situation, you'll need legal help.
Stronger, more official language is needed to point at your condition and specific parts of your career. If you're missing evidence and don't know what the VA needs, a personal injury attorney has better, trained skills in researching your records and finding old contacts. Unfortunately, medical personnel in the military are just as transient as you are, so you may need to look into civilian evidence.
A personal injury attorney can help with extra evidence as well by connecting you with doctors who have experience with claims systems. It's one thing to diagnose a problem and work towards treatment, but not all medical professionals know how to neatly and carefully document observations in a way that a claims system is likely to agree with. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss creating a more successful claim.