Types of Disability Claims
There is a wide variety of claims that apply to disability compensation within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These types of VA compensation claims are based in large part on the type of disability, the applicant who is filing the claim and the time when the claim is being filed. For instance, VA pre-discharge claims occur while the service member is active, whereas VA post service claims are specifically for discharged veterans. The VA recognizes that some disabilities may not appear for many years after a servicemember has left the military, and as such, has made allowances for filing a claim long after service has ended. To learn more about the types of VA compensation claims, please select from the topics below:
- Pre-discharge claims
- Post service claims
- Special claims
VA pre-discharge claims are declaration made prior to actual separation, release or retirement from active duty (or demobilization). For these types of VA compensation claims, the processing times are shorter because all of the required documentation and much of the medical information is still stored within the active database. Claims that apply to disability compensation for active service members are submitted during the pre-discharge period, which includes up to four months after discharge or separation. VA pre-discharge claims also extend to those who serve in the National Guard or Reserve, under the Title 10 and Title 32 amendments.
VA pre-discharge claims utilize an Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), which is used to determine the extent of the servicemember's disability. Working with the Department of Defense (DOD), the VA will assess the veteran during this VA pre-discharge claim period in order to determine disability and assign a disability rating. With VA pre-discharge claims, the higher the percentage of the rating, the greater the amount of benefits that will be awarded to the veteran and his or her family. These benefits will often continue long after the service member's death, so it is advisable to take advantage of all of the benefits offered and available. Veterans can ask their assigned agent how long the duration of disabilities benefits will last.
Occasionally, service members will file VA pre-discharge claims based on any pre-service disability that the military knew about upon enlistment. If the disability worsened as a direct result of military service, the service member is eligible to submit a claim. In these instances, the VA pre-discharge claims will indicate the level of "aggravation" that has been sustained to the existing condition. For some existing condition, aggravation must be at least a 20 percent increase in order to be eligible to file a VA pre-discharge claim form.
Post Service Claims
VA post service claims are filed by veterans when disabilities appear in a period following discharge from service. These types of VA compensation claims may be submitted under certain conditions including for acknowledged situations from theater of operations experiences. Eligibility for VA post service claims may be dependent on furnishing required evidence. Applicants can start gathering proof by reviewing the Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) that matches their condition, bringing it to a physician to complete and finding out which additional documents are necessary for post service claims specific to their condition. Veterans Affairs grant VA post service claims of service members automatically if they were exposed to or involved in one of the following circumstances:
- Agent Orange exposure
- Exposures to hazardous materials
- Gulf War illnesses
- Prisoners of War (POWs)
Unlike VA pre-discharge claim, VA post service claims require the service member to prove that he or she was engaged and present during a time when he or she would have been exposed, or have the official designation as a POW. In some cases, a disability may appear a year or more after discharge. If the disability can be connected to military service, then the VA post service claims may be filed and upheld. The VA presumes that the certain conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, ulcers and high blood pressure, may be related to time served in the military.
Claims that apply to disability compensation can also include special situations in which the disability does not fit into one of the other types of claims. In many instances, claims that apply to disability compensation are not always based on events that happened while in service. These special VA post service claims cover negligent behavior by the VA, can provide adaptive equipment to the disabled veteran and may be extended to children of women who served in Vietnam or Korea during conflict. Veterans can find out if spouses and dependents fulfill special claim eligibility requirements by including their information with the claim. Veteran Affairs will award special VA post service claims compensation to veterans who are not self-sufficient and additional funding to disabled veterans who are having trouble with employment. Some of the most often claimed circumstances include vehicle allowances, dentistry, clothing, birth defects, pre-stabilization, VA facility negligence and Title 38.
Special claims that apply to disability compensation with injuries received because of being in a VA facility are Title 38 claims. In these instances, the claims that apply to disability compensation are treated as if the servicemember received the injury or disability as a result of an in-service injury. There are types of VA compensation claims that can refer to a disabled veteran's need to obtain an adapted automobile so that he or she can drive. Women who served in Korea or Vietnam and have children born with birth defects such as Spina Bifida can receive VA post service claims compensation for the care of their children and medical treatments.
Special VA post service claims can also cover special adaptive clothing that soldiers with prosthetics may require. If dental damage correlates with service, these same claims will cover dental work. Special claims are one of the types of VA compensation claims that also allow payment for the stabilization of a veteran who is not yet self-sufficient and cannot live alone or with family members.
Many of the types of VA compensation claims also extended to family members under certain conditions. As with all types of VA compensation claims forms, it is advisable to secure the assistance of a trained representative from the VA or a recognized agent to assist in obtaining all of the compensation and benefits that are due to the service member, both before and after discharge. Special monthly compensation for disabilities, injuries and other claims are available for veterans and service members currently serving.