What Are The Differences Between SSI And SSDI?

The term “Social Security” can mean a large number of US government-based benefit programs that an individual can apply for when he or she needs it. But even though they are administered by the Social Security Administration, SSI and SSDI are two separate programs and offer two different types of benefits.

What Are The Differences Between SSI And SSDI?

What type you should apply for depends on your needs. Here, we’ll explain the difference, and you can decide for yourself which one is right for you.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This program is a needs-based financial benefit for disabled individuals of limited means and income. Unlike Social Security received after retirement, SSI does not require “work credits.” The money comes from General Revenues, not from Social Security funds. It’s a “means-tested program,” meaning the requirements are very strict. SSI is for those who are elderly, disabled, and/or blind who need assistance paying for things like food and shelter.

Most individuals who qualify for and receive SSI will also qualify for Medicaid, the state/federal healthcare program that provides comprehensive coverage for its recipients. They may also qualify for food stamps and other assistance. The amount of SSI received will depend on the amount of consistent monthly income the individual receives. Any other income you receive can affect your SSI amount.

Any income or other “in-kind support” such as free rent, food, or other necessities that are given to you at no cost are considered “income,” and must be reported. Should your living arrangements change, such as moving in with a roommate or relative, this also must be reported, and will likely change or reduce your monthly benefit payment.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

For individuals with work history, SSDI can cover them after they become disabled. SSDI is based on an individual’s disability and work credits. SSDI will qualify an individual for Medicare after 24 months. If your assets and income are higher, SSDI is the better option.

There is a roughly 5-month waiting period before an individual begins receiving benefits once the application is received and when Social Security determines and approves the “date of onset.” SSDI payments may also be reduced if an individual is receiving another type of benefit, such as Worker’s Compensation.

Applicants for SSDI generally have a higher approval rating, since they have a work history and have had health insurance. They’ve received medical care for their disability, which is important in any disability claim. Examiners and judges also tend to find long-term employees to be more credible due to their work history, something SSI applicants may not have.

Note: individuals with ALS will qualify for Medicare immediately, with no waiting period.

Qualifying For Both SSDI And SSI

Under certain circumstances, an individual may qualify for both programs. The criteria are the same, limited income, and elderly, blind and/or disabled. Known as “concurrent benefits,” an individual must meet the requirements for both of these programs. However, both payments won’t be higher than a typical SSI payment. In other words, getting both will not “double-up” benefit payments.

Generally, SSDI provides a higher benefit amount than SSI, but SSI also takes into account factors such as other income, a person’s living situation, assets, and other variables.

The most common scenario is when an individual’s SSDI payments are low due to low wages throughout the working life, disability at a young age before building up a work history, or did not work very much in recent years.

It’s also possible that you could qualify for SSI during the five-month wait for SSDI. Once your SSDI payments begin, the SSI payment could be lowered accordingly. Medicaid would also be available immediately, whereas Medicare would be a two-year wait.

Your eligibility for one or both benefit programs is up to the Social Security office and depends on your current income and assets. Both programs utilize the same process to evaluate the disability.

Houston’s Social Security Attorney

Whether you’re applying for Social Security or Disability through Social Security, the laws are complex and the process difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time, and have a better chance of being awarded the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Is It Hard To Get Vision Disability Benefits In Houston?

Is It Hard To Get Disability Benefits For Vision Related Injuries And Conditions In Houston?

The CDC reports that about 2,000 people per day experience an eye injury. While many eye injuries happen on the job, eye injuries can also occur from a car or other accidents, fireworks, as well as incidents like falls. Veterans may also find themselves with injuries from combat or other duty.

Eye injuries can be difficult to overcome. If they’re severe enough, can inhibit your ability to return to work. You may eventually need to apply for disability after a vision-related injury. The cause of vision impairment or the length of time isn’t a consideration. However, the degree of vision impairment is, as well as how well your medical records support your claim.

Disability For Vision Loss

Your vision loss must be substantial in order to meet the definition set out by The Social Security Administration (SSA). If you have a good vision in one of the eyes, SSA will not consider you “disabled.”

SSA has three conditions for blindness, and most cases of blindness meet at least one. To qualify for disability, you must meet one of them:

  • Loss of central visual acuity (2.02), indicating that you have vision loss in your central field of vision, and your “better eye” is no better than 20/200
  • Contraction of the visual field in the better eye (2.03), indicating that your field of vision is shrinking and that you have a rather narrow field of vision
  • Loss of visual efficiency, or visual impairment (2.04), indicating blurry vision or total blindness, and the vision in your better eye is not better than 20/200 while wearing corrective lenses

A full description of these criteria is available in the SSA Bluebook.

Qualifying For Disability

In order to qualify, you’ll be required to show that your vision loss and/or blindness prevents you from working at any job. The SSA looks at a report called RFC, or “residual functioning capacity” to determine your current level of functioning and how it affects your ability to return to work. It looks at your inability to do things like drive. In other words, how much work are you capable of doing in your current condition?

The SSA also reviews your age, education level, and vocational skill set, and will qualify or disqualify based on their findings. If the SSA believes you are qualified based on the RFC, it will be based on your inability to do any kind of job. You will also receive a medical-vocational allowance.

Re-Employment

If you are considering returning to work, SSA allows a 9-month re-evaluation and trial period every 60 months (5 years.) These nine months do not have to be consecutive, but you should avoid using them all up at once if you don’t have to.

The “trial period” is to see if you are able to re-adapt and work, either in the same profession or in another one. You’re required to report your earnings, expenses, and work-related activities to the SSA.

You’ll still receive benefits if you don’t go over your monthly benefit amount (currently $2,040.) Your benefits will still be available (as long as you don’t earn more), and you won’t have to reapply. However, you’ll be required to report everything to the SSA so that your expenses can be calculated against your earnings.

Should your condition worsen and keep you from continuing working, you can apply for expedited reinstatement within 5 years.

Before beginning the re-employment process, speak with an experienced disability attorney who can guide you through the process.

Get Help For Vision Related Disability From Herren Law

Applying for disability benefits from the SSA brings increasing challenges to prove your case. With the help of an experienced disability attorney, you can make sure you have the evidence you need, your application is properly executed, and stand a better chance at getting the benefits you need.

Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

Why You Should Consult With An Attorney Before Filing A Long-Term Care Claim In Houston? 

Why You Should Consult With An Attorney Before Filing A Long-Term Care Claim In Houston? 

The AARP reports that after the age of 65, about half of Americans will, at some point, develop a disability requiring long-term care and assistance. This can range from help with everyday things like dressing and eating, to assisted living and nursing home care. Although most people will require these services for about two years, some 14% will need help for as long as five years.

Realizing this possibility, many people purchase long-term care policies (not to be confused with long-term disability insurance.) These policies cover services that are not covered by standard health insurance policies and reimburse for services for care in places such as:

  • Home health care to continue living independently
  • Care in a:
    • Assisted living facility
    • Adult daycare center
    • Nursing home

These policies also cover certain types of disabilities.

What It Covers

Most long-term care policies consider a policyholder eligible if they are unable to accomplish two out of six ADLs, or “activities of daily living,” such as:

  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Transferring from a bed to a chair
  • Toileting
  • Taking care of incontinence issues

Policyholders who are diagnosed with a cognitive care disability such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other cognitive impairment that requires personal care.

Filing A Claim

Policyholders must prove that they need help with these ADLs, or that they do have a cognitive disability. This generally requires a licensed healthcare provider to provide in writing the list of the patient’s disabilities and assistance requirements. These requirements must be specific, such as needed help getting into and out of bed. Make sure that when you contact the insurer that you have a physician’s documentation that details the disabilities.

Most insurers require an in-home visit conducted by a licensed healthcare provider. Therefore an advocate for the patient should also be available to explain the patient’s needs. The patient should not be left alone, or be called by the insurance company to answer questions. That is also the advocate’s place.

Many insurers work to unfairly deny a claim and will insist that your evidence does not meet the threshold for “triggering” benefits. Many use tactics such as:

  • Denying receiving documentation
  • Re-interpret the policy’s language to allow them to deny a claim
  • Pay their own physicians to deny an otherwise valid claim
  • Fail to disclose benefits in your policy that you’re entitled to receive

The mindset is to prevent paying out claims as long as possible, hoping that policyholders will retreat and give up on their claim.

How Can A Long Term Care Attorney Help?

Because insurance companies deny claims so often, attorneys who understand the laws and regulations that apply to these policies can help fight back against bad faith insurance.

But in the application process, a long term care attorney can ensure that your application is completed correctly, that you have the correct evidence needed to demonstrate that your condition limits, and that a care plan is included in your claim.

Consulting with a long term care attorney before filing your claim can ensure that you have everything you need for a successful insurance claim and avoid a denial.

Your Houston Disability Attorney

When filing long-term care claim, it’s important to follow your insurer’s instructions to the letter. They’re not interested in helping you and your claim, but there’s someone who can help.  The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, appeals, and help you through the process so you can get the benefits you need. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and no up-front fees, because we will only collect if we win your case.

 

How To Handle A VA Claim Denials In Houston, TX

You’ve filled out all the paperwork, sent all the requested information, and even did another physical exam (or two or more.) But the VA still denied your claim for benefits. Now, what do you do?

How To Handle A VA Claim Denials In Houston, TX

The first thing you must do is not give up. The second thing you must do is file an appeal.

Why They Said “No”

Start by figuring out why your claim was denied. Did they need more information? There may be any number of reasons, and the letter you receive will detail the denial.

The VA commonly denies veteran benefits claims for:

  • A lack of clear medical diagnosis for the condition or disability being claimed
  • No clear “nexus” or connection between your condition and your military service
  • No evidence (or enough) of disability symptoms

While there may not be enough evidence in your service record to justify a service connection, you will need to show that you currently have a medical diagnosis. This can be either from a VA medical provider or through a private medical provider, such as a primary care physician. Add this information to your appeal.

To be eligible for VA disability benefits, you must demonstrate that the symptoms you have today were caused or aggravated by your military service. Without this “nexus,” there is no reason to believe your condition is service-related, so it’s up to you to show that it clearly is.

Frequently, veterans discover that they have no medical evidence in their military service record to back up claims of a disabling condition. It may be more difficult to show years after your discharge, but it’s not impossible. Any medical evidence you submit must be recent enough to demonstrate your claim of disability.

You must also show that you are currently experiencing symptoms that affect your everyday activities, including your ability to work. The VA awards compensation for disabilities that impact and impair everyday life, including work and social functioning. The degree of disability determines your rating, that is, how severe your symptoms are from the disability.

Provide additional support your claim for symptoms:

  • Draft a VA Lay Statement—a personal statement that describes your current condition and why you believe it is directly service-connected.
  • Request that someone draft a “Buddy Letter” to describe your symptoms and how they impact your life. This would be someone over the age of 18 who has first-hand knowledge of your injuries, such as a family member, spouse, fellow veteran, or anyone who can corroborate your claim. This is also considered “lay evidence.”
  • Obtain a Disability Benefits Questionnaire from your primary care physician or other healthcare providers
  • Add any additional evidence from the VA as well as any private healthcare provider detailing symptoms

Time Limit For Appeal

To appeal a negative decision, you’ll need to use VA Form 21-0958, called the Notice of Disagreement (NOD). You’ll have one year from the date of the letter (not the date you received it.) If you miss this deadline, you may have to file a new claim.

It’s important to note that the NOD is simply to inform the VA that you disagree, and you intend to appeal their decision. In the NOD, you’ll include:

  • A letter with the words “notice of disagreement” at the top of Form 21-4138 or in your letter
  • The date of the denial letter and the decision of your ratings
  • The statement that you disagree with the denial letter and the entire decision of ratings
  • The statement that you intend to appeal the VA’s decision

The NOD is simply to preserve your appeal rights, and the right to appeal to all of them. Avoid detailing the specific reasons for appeal, or you may limit your ability to appeal something later. Save the specifics for the DRO (Decision Review Officer) or BVA (Board Of Veterans Appeals) meetings.

Get Help With Your VA Appeals

Appealing a VA claim denial can be frustrating and time-consuming. Without an understanding of how the VA works, you may be at a disadvantage. VSOs are not attorneys and may not be able to give you the help you need.

We’ve been helping veterans win the appeals process for more than 20 years. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

Getting Benefits For Somatic Symptom Disorder In Houston, TX

When you have a condition that’s obvious, it’s easy to show and discuss your symptoms with your physician or other healthcare providers. But when you have physical symptoms that don’t seem to be caused by anything specific, things can get complicated.

Somatic Symptom Disorder, also called SSD, is one that is considered mental in nature but causes physical symptoms, which can include pain. The symptoms can cause considerable distress that can disrupt a patient’s daily life.

Getting Benefits For Somatic Symptom Disorder In Houston, TX

The Basics Of SSD

An individual who wakes up with a headache one morning, or develops one during the day, may believe they have a serious illness such as encephalitis. The headache may have any number of causes, from caffeine withdrawal to work-related stress, both of which are treatable and manageable. But instead of determining where the headache is coming from, the person focuses solely on the headache and seeks medical care.

When one doctor doesn’t provide a suitable diagnosis, the person visits multiple physicians seeking answers, convinced that the headache is something more serious. Medical tests don’t indicate any particular problem, leading to an obsession with more doctor visits and additional testing. Seeking the correct answer may lead to debilitating anxiety and distress that makes normal functioning difficult, including:

  • Chronic worry over a serious illness
  • Concern over serious medical conditions when testing shows there isn’t
  • Fear of damage or injury with physical activity
  • Believing that your medical exam and treatment were inadequate
  • Frequent doctor visits that don’t supply answers and increases anxieties
  • Having symptoms that aren’t consistent with the normal effects of a particular medical condition

Note that symptoms such as pain are real, even though there is no detectable cause. Some cases may involve issues with nerve impulses that send signals involving pressure, pain, and other sensations to the brain. These symptoms may be difficult to diagnose, and a physician may or may not prescribe medications for the symptoms.

If no underlying cause is detected, a physician may refer a patient to a mental health provider for additional evaluation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychiatric medications may be prescribed to address anxiety related to the physical symptoms.

Applying For Disability

When a condition prevents you from working and living normally, you may decide to apply for disability. Because a somatoform disorder isn’t readily visible and not detectable by normal medical testing, positively proving the condition can be much more difficult. However, it’s not impossible.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize somatoform disorder as a disabling condition in its blue book under Section 12.07, along with a list of requirements.

Working with one physician for treatment instead of visiting many doctors shows that you are actively seeking treatment and not “doctor shopping.” While the search for answers may lead to multiple doctors, developing a strong relationship with a single psychiatrist and/or physician and regular treatment goes a long way in proving your case for disability.

The SSA will also consider what types of jobs you can continue to do, whether your own or another type, with the help of a mental residual functional capacity (MRFC). While the SSA’s examining physicians will create an MRFC report from your records, you should also have one created by the psychiatrist who is currently treating you. The SSA will favor a psychiatrist who specializes in somatoform disorders over any type of physician who doesn’t.

Get Help With Somatic Symptom Disorder Disability From Herren Law

Applying for disability benefits from the SSA brings increasing challenges to prove your case. With the help of an experienced disability attorney, you can make sure you have the evidence you need, your application is properly executed, and stand a better chance at getting the benefits you need.

Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

What is VOC Rehab, In Houston?

For anyone in Houston who has a type of disability and wants to work, vocational rehabilitation, or VOC Rehab, maybe an answer.

The VOC Rehab program is administered through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Council of Texas. The TWC’s program assists those with disabilities to train for, find, and maintain gainful employment. The program also works with employers and businesses to recruit, keep, and accommodate employees with disabilities.

What is "VOC Rehab” In Houston?

Eligibility

If you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to find and/or keep employment and need services in order to get to the point of employment, TWC’s VOC Rehab program may be able to help you get to that point.

Disabilities such as:

  • Learning, developmental and intellectual
  • Physical disabilities such as:
    • Paralysis
    • Impaired movement
    • Back injuries
    • Spinal and brain injuries
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Hearing impairment
  • Behavioral/mental health conditions
  • Visual impairments including blindness

You can apply for these services at your Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services office, call TWC Vocational Rehabilitation Inquiries at 800-628-5115, or by email at customers@twc.state.tx.us. Include your name, address (including city, state, and zip code) and your phone number in your email.

There are services for both adults and for youth and students and are based on need and eligibility. Youth services include vocational counseling and opportunities for post-secondary education, as well as on-the-job training and internships.

For Veterans: Vocational Rehab & Employment

If you’re a veteran, there are additional services available that can help you if you have a service-connected disability.

The VA has its own VR&E program to offer veterans the assistance they need to find employment and achieve independent living.

If you:

  • Received a discharge that was not dishonorable
  • Have at least a 10% disability rating from the VA, and
  • You apply for VR&E services

Your period of eligibility will end 12 years from the date you separated from active-duty military status, or the date you received notice of your first VA disability rating for a service-connected condition. If your vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) finds that you have a serious employment handicap, the period could be extended.

Active-duty military members who are “short-timers” (leaving the military soon) may also be eligible for VR&E if they have a 20% or higher pre-discharge disability rating (a “memorandum rating”), participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process, or are awaiting discharge due to a service-connected injury or illness that occurred in the line of duty.

VR&E services can include, as needed:

  • Skillset and abilities evaluation for employment
  • Vocational counseling
  • Job readiness training, including resume preparation and job training
  • On the job training (OJT), including apprenticeships and unpaid work opportunities
  • Post-secondary training at a college, business school, vo-tech or trade school
  • Supportive rehabilitation services as needed (i.e., counseling, medical referrals, case management, etc.)
  • Assistance finding and keeping a job, which may include special employer incentives and job accommodations

You can find out more about these benefits here and submit your application here.

We’re Ready To Help

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you get yours. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 or use our online contact form for a free consultation. You can ask questions, and we can discuss your legal options. We offer a contingency fee arrangement, and you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

 

2020 VA Disability Rates

The VA has increased the disability rates for veterans in 2020, but not by a considerable amount. The 1.6% increase is smaller than the one given in 2019 of 2.8%. The rate is a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), and designed to keep up with inflation. The new disability rates went into effect on December 1, 2019.

2020 VA Disability Rates

The VA is required to keep up with and match the COLA adjustments that are made to Social Security benefits.

From 10% to 20%

Veterans at these ratings will receive:

  • At 10% disability, $142.29
  • At 20% disability, $281.27

Veterans with these ratings don’t receive additional compensation for children, parents, or a spouse who receives aid and assistance.

Veterans In Other Rating Brackets

The rest of the VA’s new disability payment schedule is available on their website.

For veterans over 30%, disability payments are calculated according to:

  • Status
  • Dependents, including:
    • Spouse
    • Children
    • Parents
  • More than one child under 18 or in a qualifying school program if over 18
  • A spouse who receives benefits for Aid & Assistance for daily activities, or “housebound” benefits

How Much Will I Receive?

The VA’s website offers a complete breakdown of the updated rates.

Determine your individual payment by starting with the basic rate for your status and rating, i.e., a veteran with no spouse or children. For instance, if you’re rated at 50%, without any qualifying dependents, i.e., spouse or children, your basic monthly payment is $893.43. Scroll down to the table with dependents, and a veteran with a spouse and 1 child that amount increases to $1,043.43 monthly. For a veteran with a child, a spouse, and two parents, the amount increases to $1,181.43.

Qualifying dependents include:

  • Minors, children under 18
  • Children who are still in school and between age 18 and 23
  • A Spouse
  • Parents who are also dependents

Once you’ve found the amount for your current living situation, you’ll be able to add up the amounts that you should receive and have an idea of what you’ll receive in monthly benefits.

Remember that your VA disability benefits are always tax-free.

What If I’m Under-Rated?

It’s possible that you are. If your condition has worsened, or you believe weren’t taken seriously the first time you were given a rating, maybe it’s time to consider requesting a review of your case. With the right documentation, you may be able to have your rating raised favorably.

If you are under-rated, it means you could be missing out on thousands of dollars in benefits that you’ve earned and are entitled to receive.

If you’re interested in a re-rating, seek assistance from a disability lawyer who understands the VA’s processes who will let you know what your chances are of an increase.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

Whether you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, or want to investigate a case review, don’t try to face the VA alone. You do have the right to legal representation whether you’re starting your application, facing a hearing, or dealing with an appeal.

Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

How Do You Prove Your PTSD Is Service Related In Houston?

The VA recognizes that PTSD is an issue that many veterans face but maybe too afraid to discuss or seek treatment for. Unfortunately, the VA doesn’t make it easy for veterans.

How Do You Prove Your PTSD Is Service Related In Houston?

PTSD is one of the most common VA disability claims, but it’s the one with the least amount of treatment. Some veterans seek out treatment outside of the military to avoid discharge or other retribution, but many don’t seek any treatment. About 50% of veterans with PTSD actually seek treatment, and of those, about 50% receive adequate treatment.

PTSD And The Service Connection

One of the biggest hurdles is actually proving to the VA that the condition is a direct result of your military service. Since it’s not visible like a physical injury, it’s more difficult to quantify. So it’s up to you as a veteran to prove to the VA that your PTSD is positively service-connected.

The first step is to have a current medical diagnosis of PTSD from a competent expert who is qualified to offer a diagnosis. This must be a psychologist or other physician who has doctorate level training in diagnostic methods, psychopathology, and clinical interview methods along with a working knowledge of the DSM-V. Many veterans may seek help from licensed counselors and social workers, but the VA won’t accept a diagnosis from these providers.

Second, credible supporting evidence is required to show that the stressor (the event that triggered PTSD) actually occurred. This can take the form of service records (including service medical records), buddy statements from individuals who were present at the time of the stressor event, and records from programs where help may have been rendered, such as a veterans service group. A disability lawyer experienced in VA claims can make suggestions of additional forms of evidence to submit.

The third requirement is documented medical evidence of a nexus between the in-service stressor and current symptoms. This can be a statement from your treating physician along with supporting documentation.

Presumptive Service Connection

For veterans who were in specific circumstances and later file a claim, the VA is required to presume a service relationship for PTSD. In other words, if a veteran had certain experiences that could be considered a stressor, the VA presumes that there is a service connection. This can include:

  • Exposure to combat—if the stressor is obviously from the veteran’s time in combat, it’s presumed to be service-connected
  • Prisoner of war—generally, a lay statement is enough to prove the in-service stressor, and the VA will presume a service connection.
  • Military sexual trauma (MST)—because MST is under-reported in the military, the VA has a lower threshold for proof and corroboration. Acceptable evidence includes pregnancy and/or pregnancy testing, STD testing and/or diagnosis, mental health treatment, and rape crisis center reports. Other evidence can be submitted, such as requests for transfers and behavioral reports.
  • Fear of terrorist or military activity—while a lay statement can be helpful to describe the circumstances surrounding the veteran’s fears, a diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional will also be required to substantiate the claim that the PTSD is the result of this fear.

In these cases, a medical nexus isn’t necessary to prove a service connection to PTSD.

Houston VA Disability Attorney For PTSD

This is just a brief overview of proving PTSD to the VA. Whether you’re suffering from PTSD or something else that’s service-related, we can help you apply, appeal, and make your case to get you the benefits you deserve.

When you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, call The Herren Law Firm at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

What Types Of Veterans Disability Benefits Are Available In Texas?

What Types Of Veterans Disability Benefits Are Available In Texas?

Disabled veterans living in The Lone Star State are eligible for a number of benefits. Unfortunately, they may realize that these benefits are available, so they don’t know to apply for them.

Fee Exempt Drivers Licenses

If you’re a disabled Texas veteran, you can apply for a fee-exempt license or state ID card if you’ve served in any branch of the US Armed Forces. The requirements:

  1. Have an honorable discharge
  2. A 60% or greater disability rating
  3. Received disability-related compensation
  4. Must not be subject to registration requirements for sex offenders

You’ll need to verify your disability in one of two ways:

  1. With a signed letter from the Veterans Administration
  2. Other official documents that certify the first three requirements above.

If you don’t have a letter from the VA, you will need verification from the branch of the military you served with.

The fee exemption does not apply to CDLs (commercial drivers’ licenses.)

Property Exemptions

If you are disabled at 10% or higher, you are eligible for a property tax exemption based on the appraised value of your property. The exemption is available for veterans, their surviving spouse, and/or a surviving spouse and minor children of a service member who dies on active duty.

Veterans rated at 100% receive a waiver of all property taxes. Surviving spouses and children can receive a $5,000 property tax exemption.

You can apply for this exemption by contacting your local County Appraisal Office for the proper form to fill out and submit. (Harris County’s Appraisal District website is here, and the form for exemptions is here.) A letter from the VA is required to apply (contact them at 800-827-1000 to get one.) Additional information is available here.

Home Loans For Texas Veterans

The Texas Veterans Land Board offers a number of services for veterans, including loans that are considered “below market” interest rates for disabled Texas veterans who are rated 30% or higher for home, land and home improvement loans. Texas State Veteran long-term care facility homes are also available and offer conventional and alternative therapies for resident veterans.

Free State Park Admission

The State Parklands Passport provides free entry to any veteran disabled at a rating of 60% or higher, or a lower-body amputation that is service-related (such as the loss of a leg) and receiving benefits. You’ll need to show documentation of your disability and rating available from the VA, but you do not have to be a resident of the State of Texas to qualify.

Free Fishing & Hunting Licenses

Similar to the State Parklands Passport, the “Super Combo” Hunting and All-Water Fishing Package is available free to disabled veterans as well as active-duty military whose home residence is in Texas. A Federal Duck Stamp is required for waterfowl hunting but is not included, which costs $25.

Additional Resources For Veterans

The Texas Veteran Commission is a statewide collaborative veteran advocate organization. Their online portal connects service members, veterans, and their families to needed resources. The TVC website has a range of information about services for veterans statewide, including claims assistance, education, employment, entrepreneurship, grants, mental health, healthcare advocacy, and resources specific to women veterans. TVC also has a free app available for download for both iOS and Android to make accessing services and information more accessible. Visit their Facebook page here.

TexVet is a joint project from the Texas Health & Human Services and Texas A&M University Health Science Center. This website is a clearinghouse of veteran-relevant information to veterans and their families not available anywhere else. The site is regularly updated and audited yearly. It has resources for things such as physical and mental health, higher education (for both the veteran and his or her family), and an event calendar with activities statewide. The site also has a section for active duty and transitioning service members with a list of services available.

More Benefits Available For Veterans

Because the Lone Star State will soon have the highest number of veterans in the nation, Texas offers even more benefits for service members as well as veterans. Whether for yourself or someone else, it’s worth it to do a simple online search and find them.

Many businesses offer discounts to military and veterans as well, so it’s worth a few minutes of clicking around to locate these thank-you discounts.

For instance, O’Reilly Auto Parts offers an in-store 10% discount for military and veterans on most items. Some items may have an even more significant discount, so it pays to ask.

Are you interested in upgrading your iPhone? Apple also offers discounts to military and veterans.

Other discounts like these are easy to locate with a quick search.

VA Disability Help For Houston Veterans

Herren Law has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability and veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

Can I Work In Houston, TX If I Have A 100% Military Disability Rating?

Can I Work In Houston, TX If I Have A 100% Military Disability Rating?

The short answer is: maybe.

There are two ways a veteran may be rated for disability:

  1. Individual Unemployability, also called TDIU (Total Disability/Individual Unemployability), primarily for veterans with conditions that prevent them from working, but don’t qualify for a 100% rating.
  2. Schedular, from the VA’s Schedule of Ratings, from 0% to 100% in 10% increments, which rates a veteran’s ability to return to work.

Both ratings depend on the severity of the veteran’s disability condition and how the condition affects their earning capacity.

TDIU is generally for veterans who are unable to find and keep substantially gainful employment as a result of their service-connected disability condition. That is, the veteran’s annual income meets or exceeds the federal poverty level for a single individual, and a 100% rating is based on the veteran’s inability to work, and is P&T (permanent & total, and not expected to improve.)

In some circumstances, a veteran may be able to still work and receive this benefit. If a veteran is able to have “marginal employment,” where the income does not exceed the poverty level, they can still qualify for TDIU at the 100% level. This can include “protected employment,” But because the VA believes that the veteran is disabled and cannot work, a veteran is not permitted to engage in “substantial gainful employment,” which would bring the income above the poverty level. At this point, the veteran is not eligible for the 100% rating and the VA will reconsider.

Veterans who are rated as 100% Schedular through the VA’s Schedule of Ratings (also called the VA Impairment Rating Tables) are allowed to work at whatever income level they choose.

Qualifying Service-Connected Conditions For 100%

You can qualify with either a physical or a mental condition, or both, or a combination of two or more conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Asbestosis
  • Asthma
  • Back & Neck Pain
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Head Injury
  • Heart Disease/Hypertension
  • Joint Disorders
  • Knee Pain & Injuries
  • Mesothelioma
  • Migraines
  • Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Sleep Apnea and other disorders
  • Spinal Fusion and other disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

This is just a shortlist of the conditions that may qualify for a 100% rating under the VA’s Schedule of Ratings. You can see more on the VA’s website at the link above.

Claim Denied? Appeal

If your claim was denied, start the appeals process—immediately. Most veterans are denied on the first try, so don’t give up. Filing an appeal is more complicated, and you’ll have a short time in which to file. When you receive your denial letter, begin gathering up all of your medical records, military, VA and private, and speak with a VA disability and appeals attorney. Use your free consultation to learn more about your rights as a veteran, and discuss the next steps in your case.

Working with a Veterans Service Officer may have worked so far, but if you’ve hit an obstacle, he or she may not have the extensive experience that an experienced VA disability attorney has. A lawyer or law firm who focuses on disability claims has a better understanding of how the VA works, and doesn’t. Furthermore, a law firm that specializes in VA disability work has more resources and staff to represent a veteran favorably, rather than relying on a VA physician examination which may not favor the veteran.

We’re Here To Help

If the VA denied your 100% rating, or they’ve revised your current rating, consider discussing your case with a lawyer who understands VA disability benefits.

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the veteran’s benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you get yours. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 or use our online contact form for a free consultation. You can ask questions, and we can discuss your legal options. We offer a contingency fee arrangement, and you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.