Frequently Asked Questions
At Vet Comp & Pen, we understand that identifying medical evidence for VA claims can be overwhelming. There is so much information to keep track of. We have culled our resources to provide information to answer our most frequently asked questions to help save you time. This information can also help you get the most from your free evaluation with a member of our staff.
Disclaimer: Please note that in no way does this information serve as legal advice.
There is no guarantee of accuracy. Please consult a professional for individual circumstances.
The VA rating decision letter is the letter that outlines the VA’s decision regarding your disability claim. The VA will decide if your impairments are service-connected and eligible for benefits. Your impairments will also receive a VA disability benefits rating. This rating can be anywhere from 0% (not severe enough to be compensable by law) to 100% (so severe they are fully covered). These VA ratings will determine your monthly payments. This letter will also list the sum of your benefits, and when you are going to begin receiving VA disability payments.
A VA Disability Rating is a percentage of possible benefits decided by the VA’s Rating Authorities to a disabled Veteran. The VA Disability Rating determines the amount of VA Disability Benefits a Veteran will receive for service-related conditions. The VA Disability Rating reflects the severity and impact of the disability. For example, a 0% VA Disability Rating is given to a condition that the VA recognizes as a service-related injury but does not qualify for compensation; however, you can still receive some benefits. Disability ratings are rounded off to the nearest 10, i.e., 50%, 60%, 70%.
The Total Combined VA Disability Rating is the combination of all of the conditions afflicting a Veteran. After each condition or ailment is given a VA Disability Rating, all the ratings are calculated to give a Total Combined VA Disability Rating. This overall VA Disability Rating is then used to determine the exact amount of VA disability benefits the Veteran will receive.
The C&P Exam is an important part of the VA disability claims process. It is performed by either a VA salaried physician or a contracted physician to document the severity of the Veteran’s medical condition. In some cases, more than one C&P Exam will be required. A general physician usually conducts the first C&P Exam. For some conditions, an exam with a specialist will be required.
As a service, Vet Comp & Pen provides medical consulting to support VA claims with medical evidence. Our professionals are on hand to help you develop the correct medical evidence to support your claim. Our goal is to get you the highest rating you medically, legally and ethically qualify for. However, we do not fill out claims or provide legal and medical advice. We help you medically strategize evidence to support your claim.
Veterans Service Officers help Veterans fill out forms, file claims, and learn about available VA services. They also represent individuals and present claims at VA hearings. Unlike Vet Comp & Pen, VSOs provide a government service that is free to Veterans.
Vet Comp & Pen is a private organization, so as a client, you are our main priority. We give you our full attention while helping you develop medical evidence to support your claim.
We offer a free consultation to see if we are a fit for you. Vet Comp & Pen only receives payment when you choose to work with us, and you subsequently receive a claim benefit. We NEVER charge any medical consulting fees unless you receive a benefit from our services.
Vet Comp & Pen is a national organization. Our team can help you medically support your claims in any of the 50 states and other US territories.
A good rule of thumb is the effective date is the date the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) receives your application for benefits. In some cases, it is the date your specific disability became eligible for benefits. Regardless of the processing time, it will default to either of those dates when rewarding benefits, often whichever is the later of the two.
Veterans have one year from the date of their Rating Decision Letter to file an appeal.
A Veteran can receive both VA disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits at the same time. Receiving VA disability benefits may impact your eligibility for SSI benefits.
If you’re a Veteran getting VA benefits because of a non-service-related disability, your Social Security benefits are not affected. However, your VA benefits may be reduced if you are receiving Social Security payments.
A Veteran generally can still work when receiving VA disability. However, typically, to receive individual unemployability rating or a 100 percent schedular rating for certain disabilities, a Veteran cannot work full time or make over a certain amount of money per year. That amount is generally anything above the poverty line.
Veterans’ benefits are excluded from federal taxable income. The following amounts paid to Veterans or their families are not taxable:
- Money for education or training
- Subsistence allowances
- Disability compensation for disabilities paid either to Veterans or their families
- Pension payments to Veterans or their dependents
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 has restructured the claims and appeals process. As of its passing:
- Supplemental Claims: VA’s goal for completing Supplemental Claim decisions is an average of 125 days.
- Higher-Level Review: VA’s goal for completing Higher-Level Reviews is an average of 125 days.
- Appeals to the Board of Veterans Appeals: VA lists varying adjudication timelines for each docket.
- Direct Docket: VA has set a goal to decide claims in this docket within 365 days.
- Evidence Docket: VA states that claims in this docket may take longer than 365 days.
- Hearing Docket: Appeals in this docket are projected to take the longest amount of time to adjudicate, with wait times that may exceed 365 days.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 has restructured the appeals process. If you have received an unfavorable rating decision on an initial VA compensation claim, VA’s new disability appeals process allows Veterans to choose from three different review options when filing an appeal:
- Higher-Level Review: In a Higher-Level Review, Veterans request the Regional Office (RO) issue another decision based on a higher level of review. This review is conducted by a more experienced rating specialist at the Regional Office. The higher-level reviewer has the ability to overturn a previous decision based on a number of factors including a clear and unmistakable error (CUE). Veterans are not allowed to submit additional evidence in support of their claims.
- Supplemental Claim: A Supplemental Claim is the submission of new and relevant evidence. The VA has a duty to assist Veterans in gathering evidence to support their claims. When using this appeal, Veterans will maintain the same effective dates for their claims when submitting new and relevant evidence as long as the supplemental claim is submitted within one year of their Regional Office’s initial decision.
- Notice of Disagreement: Veterans can appeal their cases directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals following an unfavorable decision. Now Veterans are able to skip the second level of review that previously existed. They are also able to apply for three different appeals: a direct appeal, a hearing, or an evidence appeal.
Additionally, if a Veteran receives an unfavorable result, he or she can appeal using the other strategies. For example, a Veteran can file a Supplemental Claim or Notice of Disagreement after an unfavorable Higher-Level Review.
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Please note that in no way does this information serve as legal advice. There is no guarantee of accuracy. Please consult a professional for individual circumstances.