Can A Veteran Rated 100% P&T Work Part Time?

If you’ve been successful in getting VA disability benefits, you may discover that it isn’t enough. A part-time job may become necessary to supplement your income. But can you work? Will working, even part time, affect your monthly VA benefits?

It might. But there are a few things to think about before you start filling out job applications and going on interviews.

working part time as a disabled veteran can affect your benefits

What Is P&T?

This stands for “Permanent & Total,” meaning that you are permanently and totally disabled as a result of injuries or medical conditions you acquired during military service. In other words, you are unemployed or unable to maintain substantially gainful employment (full time, paying wages greater than poverty level) as a result of a service-connected medical condition(s) incurred on active duty.

Schedular or TDIU?

There are two types of ratings assigned to veterans—“Schedular” and Unemployability, or TDIU. These ratings indicate your ability to work at the level you held prior to the injury. The VA considers only service-connected disabilities as the reason a veteran can’t be employed.

Schedular

Known as the Schedule of Ratings, or the VA Impairment Rating Tables, these are used to rate a veteran’s ability to return to work. You may be rated at 100% if you received a 60% or more rating from the Schedule, whether for a single disability, or for two or more that add up to at least 70%, creating a 100% disruption in your ability to generate an income. Even though you may not be completely physically disabled, you are allowed to work and earn any amount of income without any impact to your VA benefits.

Schedular disability is not the same as the determination of disability that is used for SSDI (Social Security) benefits.

Total Disability/Individual Unemployability (TDIU)

This version of VA disability means that your rating inadequately compensates you in your ability to generate an income for the disability as it’s awarded.

You may be able to earn a “marginal” income, which is at or below the US poverty threshold (in 2017, it’s currently $12,331 for one individual under 65, and $11,367 over 65.) Should you exceed that “marginal” level, your VA benefits may be reviewed for reduction.

You can, however, earn more than a “marginal” income if you are in a “sheltered position.” This may mean one of three situations:

  • If you’re working in a family business in a “protected environment,” where an employer makes a special effort to employ a disabled individual
  • In a position where specific accommodations are made for you or anyone in the position
    • If the position was created or modified just for you, and the company would not hire a replacement if you left
  • If a similar company wouldn’t hire someone like you for the same job and the same work, such as a position created/modified just to hire you, i.e, offering flexible work scheduling for medical treatments

This rating is usually assigned to veterans with conditions that may be temporary and resolve with treatment.

Should the VA question your employment or reduce/eliminate your benefits, it may become necessary to request documentation from your employer to defend your position. Our attorneys are experienced in VA claims, and can help you through the process.

If The VA Denies Or Reduces Your Benefits

Call us immediately—you must appeal quickly or lose the opportunity. Our attorneys can work with you to file your appeal in the VA’s system to get you the benefits you deserve.

We’re Here To Help

This is just a brief overview of VA disability and working, and should not be considered a complete guide.

The Herren Law Firm 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. 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.

Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and Your Houston VA Disability Benefits Case

Unfortunately, sexual assault does occur in the military, and according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), sexual assault is classified as military sexual traumas (MST). Furthermore, according to Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D, MST is a “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.”

Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and Your Houston VA Benefits Case

National data suggests that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men experience sexual trauma while serving in the military, and although PTSD is commonly associated with military sexual trauma (MST), it is not the only diagnosis that can result from MST. As such, if you are a U.S. Veteran living in Houston or the Houston area, and you want to receive your rightfully owned VA disability benefits due to MST or PTSD, then it’s critical to contact a Houston VA disability benefits attorney as soon as possible.

At Herren Law in Houston, we’ve helped numerous Veterans with their VA applications, appeals, and other issues regarding disability benefits. For representation with one of the leading VA benefits attorneys in Houston, make sure to call Herren Law today at (800) 529-7707. We work on a contingency basis, and initial consultations are always free.

Overview of Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD

First of all, it’s essential to note that military sexual trauma is not a medical diagnosis. Because MST is a traumatic event, there are multiple reactions that a person can have. PTSD may be the most common diagnosis associated with MST, but other diagnoses often include depression, mood disorders, and substance abuse disorders.

Keep in mind that not every individual will have the same reaction. Some reactions to military sexual trauma can include:

  • Strong emotions, including depression, sudden and emotional responses to things, and feeling angry or irritated all of the time
  • Numb feelings, where you feel emotionally flat or have difficulties experiencing emotions such as happiness or love
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Difficulties with attention, memory, and concentration
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Difficulties with things that may remind the Veteran of the traumatic sexual experience
  • Difficulties with relationships, such as feeling disconnected or isolated from others
  • Physical health problems

Military Sexual Trauma and the VA

Military sexual trauma is a very serious issue, and, fortunately, the VA has responded to MST claims and every VA health care facility has a designated MST Coordinator. The MST Coordinator often acts as the contact person for any MST-related issues, and the Coordinator can help you find and access various VA services and programs. Additionally, because MST is massively underreported (due to stigma and other reasons), VA health care providers often must ask a Veteran if he/she experienced military sexual trauma. For more information on MST Coordinators, and finding these individuals near, please refer to the VA’s official list of Military Sexual Trauma Coordinators.

When applying for disability compensation with the VA, you won’t receive compensation for MST itself, but for the conditions that resulted from the MST.

Evidence to Support a Military Sexual Trauma Claim

No matter the severity of your traumatizing event, the VA still requires documentation and evidence to validate your claim and provide regular VA disability benefits. Some common and effective pieces of evidence come from the Department of Defense forms used to report incidents of sexual assault or harassment, as well as investigative reports, while you were in the military. However, because sexual trauma isn’t often reported, the VA has “relaxed the evidentiary requirements and looks for ‘markers’ (i.e., signs, events, or circumstances) that provide some indication that the traumatic event happened.”

This evidence can include:

  • Records from law enforcement agencies, rape crisis centers, hospitals, mental health counseling centers, and others
  • Pregnancy tests or test results for STDs
  • Statements from family members, fellow Servicemembers and Veterans, counselors, clergy members, and others
  • Requests for transfer while the Veteran was in the military (reasonably attributed to the sexual trauma, assault, or harassment)
  • Deterioration in work performance
  • Substance abuse
  • Unexplained economic or social behavior
  • Relationship issues
  • Sexual dysfunction

Due to the evidentiary requirements, it’s absolutely critical to document as much as you can. Furthermore, it’s important to note that increases in MST awareness led the VA to offer special training for all VA regional office personnel who process MST-related claims and the mental health clinicians conducting the examinations related to these claims. This occurred in 2011, and if your past MST claim with the VA was denied before this date, you can request a re-evaluation from your local VA regional office.

For a Free Consultation, Call Herren Law in Houston Today

Military sexual trauma is a very serious incident that can have lifelong consequences for the victim. As such, if you were the victim of MST, sexual assault, or sexual harassment while you were in active service with the military, and you are continuing to suffer, make sure to not hesitate any longer and call Houston VA disability attorney William Herren today. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay a cent unless we win your case. Initial consultations are also free, so call Herren Law in Houston at (800) 529-7707 or (713) 682-8194 today.

4 Ways to Improve Your VA Disability Claim in Houston TX

When you or a loved one joined the military, you, like thousands of other veterans, dedicated everything to your service, giving the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, etc your 110%. Nevertheless, the VA is notorious for inefficiencies when getting disabled veterans their much-needed benefits. Despite your dedication, that may have left you disabled, the VA all-too-often rates the severity of a disability lower than it should be, or the VA takes way too long.

4 Ways to Improve Your VA Disability Claim in Houston TX | Herren Law

At Herren Law in Houston TX, we strongly believe that disabled veterans deserve their rightful and full benefits in a timely manner. With the help of Houston VA disability benefits attorney William Herren, we’ll help you through the VA benefits process every step of the way, from gathering and filing the claim to vigorously representing your case. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that you don’t pay a thing unless we win your case. If you are looking to claim your VA disability benefits, don’t hesitate and call Herren Law today at (713) 682-8194. Free consultations are available.

Reasons to Improve Your VA Disability Claim

Once the VA has determined that you have a service-connected disability, the organization will rate the severity of your disability on a scale between 0 and 100, whereas 100 is the most severe (offering the highest amount of benefits) and 0 is the least severe (offering the lowest amount of benefits, but still making health care and other benefits available to veterans).

This rating is designed to give veterans a fair amount that reflects the severity of their disability and their inability to work. However, like many disabilities, a veteran’s disability might not be static and could worsen over time. Additionally, the VA is not perfect, and they can sometimes rate a veteran’s disability as too low.

Keep in mind that the VA disability benefits process is time-consuming and complex, for both the VA and the veteran, and if your documentation isn’t complete or as clear as possible, then the VA might not connect the dots.

However, if you approach your VA disability claim (with the help of an experienced VA disability attorney) with the same discipline and grit as your military career, then you stand a chance of beating the VA and getting the full and fair benefits that you’re entitled to.

4 Ways to Improve Your VA Disability Claim

1. Make your VA disability claim as complete as possible

It’s no surprise that getting your VA disability documentation together is a full-time job. To start, you’ll need to get your VA claim file and your service medical records.

If you don’t have these records, you can request them from your local VA regional office or by mailing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Next, do your due diligence and research any disability or condition in your records and connect that disability with the 38 CFR Part 4: Schedule of Ratings. Write up a summary of your conditions as well as any dates of treatment (during and after service), and bring this documentation with a one- to five-page summary. This documentation should be in addition to doctor’s opinions and, ideally, a nexus letter.

2. Get your VA C-File

Although there is already a ton of documentation to gather (seeing a trend?), your VA C-File is perhaps the most important document that you’ll need. Don’t wait until your hearing and go to your local VA regional office to try and get a copy.

3. Understand the law, and get a Houston VA disability attorney

The average denial rate in 2011 in front of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) was around 24.2 percent, and that same year, according to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals Annual Chairman’s Report (Fiscal Year 2011), veterans who were represented by an attorney had a denial rate of about 17.7 percent. By knowing the law, and using your right to have a VA disability at your side, some benefits will include:

  • An experienced legal professional who’ll zealously advocate on your behalf, answer claim-related questions, and help you understand and obtain the evidence you need.
  • An attorney can analyze your entire claim, find weak and strong points, and help assess the most efficient path to getting you your benefits.
  • An attorney can help assist with your sworn testimonies at hearings

4. Use optimal evidence proving disability and service-connection

There are many paths to take when proving to the VA your disability and service connection. Always remember what you’re building in your claim: Eligibility, Service Connect, Impairment Rating, and Effective Date. With any of these four factors, if you have bad or wrong evidence, you may thoroughly sabotage your claim. When gathering your evidence, remember these 5 tenants of good VA disability evidence:

  1. Material
  2. Probative
  3. Relevant
  4. Competent
  5. Credible

Contact Houston’s Top VA Disability Attorney

Unlike the battlefields you faced in your service, filing for your VA disability benefits claim is a battlefield that you can choose and control. The most important parts of this process are gathering the correct evidence and documentation and making sure that the evidence and documentation are complete and clear. For these reasons, it can be extremely helpful to have an experienced, knowledgeable VA disability attorney at your side. For a free, no-obligation consultation with Houston VA disability benefits attorney William Herren, call our law firm today at (713) 682-8194.

Getting VA Disability Benefits for Mental Conditions in Houston TX

Disabilities that are connected to a veteran’s service are not always physical and visible. Actually, it’s not really news that active military service can have dramatic and incapacitating effects on the human mind. Although “shell shock” isn’t quite the medical term that accurately describes the complexity of an affected veteran’s mental condition, thousands of veterans throughout Texas suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety, alcohol or drug addictions, and more.

Getting VA Disability Benefits for Mental Conditions in Houston TX

Many veterans are reluctant to seek VA disability benefits for mental disorders; however, these disorders can be just as debilitating as physical disorders. By calling Houston VA disability benefits attorney William Herren, you discuss the possibility for disability benefits for a condition connected to your service in the U.S. armed forces, whether Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, and others.

To speak with Houston attorney William Herren, we invite you to call our Houston law firm today at (713) 682-8194. Consultations are always free, and if we decide to take your case, you won’t pay anything unless we win.

Basics About VA Disability Benefits for Mental Conditions

The stigma about mental health problems is still prevalent among veterans, especially due to the “tough” and “strong” atmosphere prevalent in many areas of the military. However, since the increased media attention regarding PTSD and other mental and emotional conditions, this stigma has reduced. Furthermore, the VA disability benefits for eligible veterans are worth pursuing, as the benefits include free medical attention as well as monthly payments, depending on the severity.

The most common VA disabilities include tinnitus and hearing loss, but PTSD is the most common mental condition, alongside drug and alcohol abuse. When the VA is determining whether or not you have a mental disability, the organization will organize several tests to determine the severity of your disability and how it affects your ability to work. The VA will also determine whether or not your disability is truly connected to your service in the military.

How the VA Evaluates a Veteran’s Mental Illness

Unlike physical disabilities, such as an amputated arm or a musculoskeletal disability, mental illnesses require different evaluations to determine their severity. To evaluate a mental illness, the VA uses its VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities, which itself follows the criteria detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The categories of mental illness include:

Just like other disabilities, you’ll need to prove to the VA that your disability is connected to your military service. To get compensation, therefore, you must have:

  • A current diagnosis of mental illness
  • Evidence of an accident or an event that occurred during active service, creating the mental illness
  • Medical evidence that connects the illness to the accident or event

Mental Illness Prior to Service

In general, the VA doesn’t provide VA disability compensation for illnesses that result from genetic or developmental defects. In other words, if you have a mental illness that existed before your military service, you may be ineligible for compensation. Such conditions can include mental retardation and personality disorders.

However, if you have a pre-existing mental condition that was aggravated by your military service, then you still may be able to qualify. For instance, if a veteran diagnosed with a personality disorder enters the military, and during his/her service, an event causes the veteran to develop PTSD, then he/she may be able to receive benefits based on the PTSD.

How the VA Rates Mental Illness for Disability Benefits

Once the VA has determined that your mental illness is related to your military service, the VA then determines the level of disability severity and, therefore, how much compensation you may be entitled to. In addition to looking at the DSM-IV, the VA will consider the veteran’s Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF). This GAF score measures the veteran’s ability to function at work (physically, socially, and emotionally). The GAF score ranges from 0 to 100, and a higher score means that you are more able to function in the workplace.

Furthermore, the VA provides ratings of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100% for psychiatric conditions. 0% doesn’t provide any monthly compensation, but you still may be eligible for health care and other benefits. 100% provides the highest amount of benefits.

Call Herren Law Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one suffered a mental condition that resulted from active service in the military, it’s important to file a claim with the VA for disability benefits. These benefits can be essential in your continued recovery while helping with finances if you’re unable to work to your maximum capacity. At Herren Law in Houston TX, disability benefits attorney William Herren has helped numerous veterans with their benefits associated with mental disorders. To get started on your case, it’s important to call attorney Herren as soon as possible. For a free consultation, call today at (713) 682-8194.

2017 VA Disability Chart With Compensation Rates

If you’re a veteran who was injured or suffered a serious illness while combat, then you may be able to request disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). After filing the initial claim to the VA, and proving that your disability is service connected, among other evaluations, the next step is for the VA to assign you a rating for your disability. This rating, which reflects the severity of your disability and how much it impacts your ability to work, also sets the amount of your disability compensation.

At Herren Law, VA disability benefits attorney Bill Herren has helped numerous veterans throughout the Houston area with their benefits claims, and we have the resources, legal know-how, and vigorous litigation strategies to help you too. If you were injured while in the military, call Herren Law’s Houston office today at (713) 682-8194. Consultations are always free, and we work on a contingency basis, which means that you won’t pay a thing unless we win your case.

Below, we’ve detailed the 2017 VA disability rates, and how much you can expect to receive for your specific disability rating.

How Does the Schedule of Rating Disabilities Work?

The VA’s schedule of rating disabilities comes after the VA determines whether or not your disability was connected to your military service. The rating reflects the severity of your disability and how your disability may adversely affect your ability to work. As such, less severe disabilities receive lower ratings, while more severe disabilities receive higher ratings. The rating ranges from 0% to 100% and moves in 10% increments.

The VA schedule of rating disabilities is also categorized by the medical issue. For instance, just some of these categories include:

  • The musculoskeletal system
  • Organs of special sense
  • The respiratory system
  • The cardiovascular system
  • The digestive system
  • The endocrine system
  • And several others…

The VA and Your Rating

To rate your disability from 0% to 100% at 10% increments, the VA looks at your disability, the body system category, and the diagnostic code that best matches your disability. It’s important to note that, even if your disability fits under more than one diagnostic code, the VA is required to choose the diagnostic code that provides the higher rating.

If your disability isn’t listed in the Schedule of Rating Disabilities, the VA is supposed to look for a disability code closest to the one you have. Like any other agency, the VA can make mistakes and not apply the rating correctly. Furthermore, sometimes the VA will give you a lower rating that doesn’t reflect the severity of your disability.

2017 VA Disability Rates

Throughout 2016, veterans receiving disability payments didn’t see an increase in their rates. In 2017, however, the VA disability rates saw a small increase of 0.3%. Eligible veterans can receive up to $3,458.06 per month as a tax-free disability benefit. However, your disability rating and other factors will determine the actual amount you will receive.

Below, we’ve listed these rates (source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website):

No Dependents:

  • 10% – $133.57
  • 20% – $264.02

30% to 60% Without Children

Dependent Status 30% 40% 50% 60%
Veteran Alone $408.97 $589.12 $838.64 $1,062.27
Veteran with Spouse Only $456.97 $654.12 $919.64 $1,159.27
Veteran with Spouse & One Parent $495.97 $706.12 $984.64 $1,237.27
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents $534.97 $758.12 $1,049.64 $1,315.27
Veteran with One Parent $447.97 $641.12 $903.64 $1,140.27
Veteran with Two Parents $486.97 $693.12 $968.64 $1,218.27
Additional for A/A spouse $45.00 $59.00 $74.00 $89.00

 

70% to 100% Without Children

Dependent Status 70% 80% 90% 100%
Veteran Alone $1,338.71 $1,556.13 $1,748.71 $2,915.55
Veteran with Spouse Only $1,451.71 $1,686.13 $1,894.71 $3,078.11
Veteran with Spouse and One Parent $1,542.71 $1,790.13 $2,011.71 $3,208.56
Veteran with Spouse and Two Parents $1,633.71 $1,894.13 $2,128.71 $3,339.01
Veteran with One Parent $1,429.71 $1,660.13 $1,865.71 $3,046.00
Veteran with Two Parents $1,520.71 $1,764.13 $1,982.71 $3,176.45
Additional for A/A spouse $105.00 $119.00 $134.00 $149.08

 

30% to 60% With Children

Dependent Status 30% 40% 50% 60%
Veteran with Spouse and Child $492.97 $702.12 $978.64 $1,230.27
Veteran with Child Only $440.97 $632.12 $892.64 $1,127.27
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child $531.97 $754.12 $1,043.64 $1,308.27
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child $570.97 $806.12 $1,108.64 $1,386.27
Veteran with One Parent and Child $479.97 $684.12 $957.64 $1,205.27
Veteran with Two Parents and Child $518.97 $736.12 $1,022.64 $1,283.27
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18 $24.00 $32.00 $40.00 $48.00
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 $78.00 $104.00 $130.00 $156.00
Additional for A/A spouse $45.00 $59.00 $74.00 $89.00

 

70% to 100% With Children

Dependent Status 70% 80% 90% 100%
Veteran with Spouse and Child $1,534.71 $1,781.13 $2,001.71 $3,197.16
Veteran with Child Only $1,414.71 $1,642.13 $1,845.71 $3,024.27
Veteran with Spouse, One Parent and Child $1,625.71 $1,885.13 $2,118.71 $3,327.61
Veteran with Spouse, Two Parents and Child $1,716.71 $1,989.13 $2,235.71 $3,458.06
Veteran with One Parent and Child $1,505.71 $1,746.13 $1,962.71 $3,154.72
Veteran with Two Parents and Child $1,596.71 $1,850.13 $2,079.71 $3,285.17
Add for Each Additional Child Under Age 18 $56.00 $64.00 $72.00 $80.76
Each Additional Schoolchild Over Age 18 $182.00 $208.00 $234.00 $260.91
Additional for A/A spouse $105.00 $119.00 $134.00 $149.08

 

It is important to note that these numbers reflect the VA’s compensation benefits, and it might not reflect the exact benefits that you’ll receive. For instance, the VA also has rates for:

  • Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)
  • Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • Automobile Allowance, Clothing Allowance and Medal of Honor
  • Birth Defects (Spina Bifida, Children of Women Vietnam Veterans)

Call Herren Law for Houston’s VA Disability Lawyer

There are countless factors involved with the VA disability process, and it can be very long-winded and involve medical evaluations, work evaluations, and other issues; often, the process gets very complex. For this reason, it’s critical to have an experienced and knowledgeable Houston VA disability lawyer at your side.

By calling Herren Law in Houston, you won’t pay a cent unless we win your case. For a free, no-obligation consultation with Houston VA disability benefits lawyer William Herren, call us today at (713) 682-8194.

What Do I Do If the VA Lowers My Veterans Benefits?

Many veterans make the mistake of thinking that once they receive their VA disability benefits, the fight is ultimately over. Unfortunately, the fight isn’t quite over, as the VA can reduce or terminate benefits under certain circumstances later on. If this has happened to you, then it’s natural to feel frustrated, cheated, and a whole plethora of other unpleasant feelings.

What Do I Do If The VA Lowers My Veterans Benefits? - Herren Law

For this reason, Houston VA disability benefits attorney William Herren fights for veterans rights, employing vigorous litigation strategies to help eligible veterans keep their disability benefits. If you have lost your benefits, or you have a reexamination with the VA regarding your benefits, the best way to protect your benefits is to contact our VA benefits law firm in Houston. Call (713) 682-8194 for a free consultation today.

Can the VA Lower or Terminate My Disability Benefits?

The short answer is, “Yes, the VA can reduce or terminate your disability benefits.” If fact, they are legally entitled to do so under Title 38 § 3.327, which states:

“Reexaminations, including periods of hospital observation, will be requested whenever VA determines there is a need to verify either the continued existence or the current severity of a disability.”

Often, there are several common reasons why the VA reduces or terminates a veteran’s benefits. Some of these reasons include:

  • The veteran has unprotected benefit rates (more on this below)
  • The veteran is in prison. If you are in a federal, state, or local prison, your disability compensation can be reduced or terminated after your 61st day in prison.
  • If there is an actual improvement in the veteran’s disability

These are just a few of the reasons why the VA may reduce or terminate your VA disability benefits. In any case, and for whatever reason, make sure to discuss the reduction or termination of your benefits with an experienced attorney.

Protected Benefits

Protected VA disability benefits are very difficult to reduce or terminate. You may have protected benefits if any of the following apply:

  • Veterans with a “static” disability (one that won’t improve) such as the loss of a limb.
  • Veterans who are found to be totally and permanently disabled (those rated at 100% disabled).
  • Veterans who have been receiving benefits for more than five years at the same level.
  • Veterans age 55 or older.
  • Veterans who have been receiving benefits for more than 20 years.

If the VA sent a notice of reexamination, and you fit into one of the categories above, then you should contact your local VA regional office, as there may have been a mistake.

Unprotected Benefits

Unprotected benefits can be reduced or terminated under certain circumstances. Your benefits may be unprotected if the two circumstances apply:

  1. You have a disability rating that is above the minimum for your disability, but below 100%, and
  2. You have been receiving benefits for less than five years.

If you have unprotected benefits, and the VA contacts you about reducing or terminating your benefits, you should still contact an attorney. This is because the VA has certain legal requirements it must adhere to, such as notifying you in advance of a reexamination, notifying you of how you can keep your benefits, or following the requirements for a medical examination.

Should You Get a VA Disability Benefits Attorney?

The title of this post is, “What Do I Do If the VA Lowers My Veterans Benefits?” The most important thing that you can do to keep your benefits is to follow the VA’s instructions as closely as possible. If you receive a notice for a reexamination, then make sure you attend the reexamination within the stated time limits (usually 60 days after receiving a reexamination notice).

For unprotected benefits, a VA disability benefits attorney will guide you through the process, make sure that the VA hasn’t made any mistakes, and fully investigate the legality of the VA’s every motion. For protected benefits, a VA disability benefits attorney is essential, as these benefits are very difficult to reduce or terminate.

Call Herren Law in Houston TX for VA Disability Benefits Help

When it comes to VA disability benefits and US and Texas law, the most important attributes in your attorney are experienceexperience, and experience. At Herren Law, Houston VA disability benefits attorney William Herren has helped numerous veterans just like you; we boast many successful cases getting a veteran his/her rightfully owed benefits. As such, if the VA is trying to reduce or terminate your benefits, don’t hesitate and call Herren Law today at (713) 682-8194.

VA Reexaminations – How To Protect Your Veterans Benefits

Once you have received your VA disability benefits, you are able to access the care and help you need without worries or stress about finances or other matters. It is for this reason why VA disability benefits are so essential to our disabled veterans. However, it’s essential to remember that your benefits might not be available forever, and the Veterans Affairs can reexamine your case. Based on the reexamination, and under certain circumstances, the VA can reduce or terminate your disability benefits.

How To Protect Your Veterans Benefits | Houston VA Attorney Herren Law

At Herren Law, we’ve come across many veterans in the Houston area who lost or experienced reduced disability benefits. In many cases, this has created havoc in their lives. If you or someone you know is facing a VA reexamination (or has lost or faced reduced benefits), then call Houston VA benefits attorney William Herren today.

In the meantime, you can find out how to protect your veterans benefits below.

Understanding the VA Reexamination Process

Reexaminations for veterans receiving disability benefits are covered under U.S. Law (Title 38, § 3.327). This law states:

“Reexaminations, including periods of hospital observation, will be requested whenever VA determines there is a need to verify either the continued existence or the current severity of a disability.”

In other words, if it is likely that your disability has improved, the VA may send a notification for reexamination. Remember, the VA is legally entitled to request reexaminations, and failure to follow the VA’s requests could result in the termination of your benefits.

Fortunately, you won’t get “surprised” with a reexamination, as the VA must send an advanced notice. After receiving this notice, you have 60 days to submit evidence proving that a reduction in benefits is not warranted. You have 30 days to request a hearing.

Scheduled Reexamination

Some injuries get better with time. Veterans receiving disability benefits for these types of injuries may have to undergo scheduled reexaminations. Generally, if you have a disability that may get better over time, the VA may schedule a reexamination within 2 to 5 years after you first started receiving benefits.

Change in Condition

The VA can also order a reexamination if there is new, material evidence showing a change in your condition. For instance, if you have a type of cancer and it goes into remission, then the VA may request a reexamination.

Fortunately, the VA may return your full benefits if your condition worsens again. When this occurs, you’ll need to write a letter to your VA regional office and provide medical evidence showing an increase in the severity of your condition.

Groups Who (Normally) Aren’t Called For Reexamination

If you are part of the following groups and you receive a notice for reexamination, there’s a chance that the VA made a mistake. In other words, eligible veterans who receive a notice should call the phone number on the letter they receive to explain why they think they shouldn’t have to go.

The types of veterans that the VA usually doesn’t call for reexamination include:

  • Veterans aged 55 and older
  • Veterans who have static disabilities, such as loss of a limb
  • Veterans who have a permanent disability resulting from a disease
  • Veterans who have the minimum rating for their disability

Protected Benefits

As part of most veterans’ disability benefits, there are Protected Benefits and Unprotected Benefits. Even if called for reexamination, it is very hard for the VA to reduce a veteran’s Protected Benefits. These benefits include:

  • Ratings in effect for 5 years or more
  • Ratings in effect for 20 years or more
  • 100% ratings

Unprotected Benefits

Your benefits can be reduced if the following circumstances are true:

  • If there is an actual improvement in disability
  • That improvement led to an increased ability to function in your life and work
  • The reexamination report is thoroughly detailed
  • The reexamination has reviewed your entire medical history

Call Veterans Disability Benefits Attorney Bill Herren

VA disability benefits law and practices can be complex, but by understanding this process, you can best protect your VA benefits. Nonetheless, whether you’ve been called for reexamination, or your reexamination led to a reduction or termination of benefits, one of the best protections available is a Houston TX VA disability attorney, like William Herren. At our law firm, we offer one thing: experience helping veterans just like you.

Moreover, we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you won’t pay a penny unless we win your case. For a free, no-obligation consultation with attorney William Herren, call our Houston law firm today at (713) 682-8194.

Can I Be Working and Still Receive My Veterans Benefits?

 

As a Houston veteran’s benefits attorney, one question we often hear is, “Can I work and still receive my veteran’s benefits?” The short and easy answer is, “Yes.” But unfortunately, issues such as working and benefits in the eyes of the VA is rarely that simple. For example, to be able to receive benefits, you have to show the VA that your disabilities or injuries (obtained during active service) have an impact on your work and daily activities.

To determine whether you can work and still receive your benefits, it is important to look at the types of benefits you’re receiving, your disability rating, and several other factors. In the meantime, you can learn more about veteran’s benefits and work eligibility below.

Working Limits for Veterans Receiving Benefits

If you’re receiving benefits, then it means that the VA is providing for disability and injuries sustained during active service. In our last post, we mentioned the VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities, which the VA uses to calculate your benefits based on the severity of your disability. Disabilities are rated on a scale of 10% to 100% in increments of 10%. To receive benefits, therefore, you must have a minimum disability rating of 10%.

You can still work while you’re receiving benefits. However, if you’re receiving benefits on a 100% disability rating, you cannot work as the VA has determined your injuries or disability to be so severe that you’re effectively unemployable. Furthermore, even if you don’t have a 100% disability rating, going back to work could jeopardize your benefits (in some cases, the VA has reduced the claimant’s disability rating).

Working in the Military With Disability Benefits

Disabled veterans can still work and receive their disability benefits while continuing their military service. However, a soldier cannot receive disability benefits and military pay at the same time. If this is the case, the disability payments may be temporarily suspended during your term of military service.

Call Herren Law Today for Legal Help

Disability benefits can be a complex affair, and even after going through the long and difficult VA benefits application process, your military benefits may not be completely fixed. If you have an issue with your disability rating or benefits, make sure to call a Houston veteran’s benefits attorney as soon as possible. For a free consultation with the attorneys at Herren Law, call our Houston office today at (800) 529-7707.

How Long Does It Take to Receive Veterans Benefits?

We at Herren Law are passionate about making sure veterans get what they were promised. Texas and Houston veterans sacrificed so much while they were in military service, and it’s essential to hold the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accountable. Unfortunately, there are thousands of veterans in Texas who are disabled and unable to receive health care and other benefits from the VA.

Often, one question our veteran’s disability benefits attorneys come across is, “How long do I have to wait to receive my benefits?” We understand the importance of these benefits (and how slow the VA can be). For a free consultation regarding your benefits claim, call our Houston law firm today at (800) 529-7707. Below, we’ve included some more information about VA benefits and the claims process.

The VA Benefits Claims Process

When filing out a claim for disability compensation with the VA, there are eight general steps that you have to follow. At each of the eight steps, the process can either go quickly or it can take a long time. This variation in time depends on the complexity of the disability, the amount of evidence required to support your claims, and the type of evidence you have.

The eight steps in the claim process include:

  1. The VA has received your claim
  2. A Veterans Service Representative is reviewing your claim
  3. A Veterans Service Representative is gathering evidence from various sources
  4. The VA is reviewing the evidence
  5. The Veterans Service Representative has recommended a decision
  6. The decision is pending approval
  7. The claim decision packet is prepared for mailing.
  8. The VA has sent a decision packet to you

Almost every stage of this process can present several setbacks that could elongate the entire process. For example, if the VA decides that you need more evidence (Step 4), then it will send the claim back to Step 3.

You can check the status of your claim by registering for eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov.

How to Speed Up the VA Claims Process

Many delays in the VA claims process are going to be completely out of your control. Nonetheless, you should still do everything you can to minimize setbacks. For example, when you’re applying for benefits, make sure to include all pieces of relevant evidence in its desired format. Also, you should always double-check medical records and evidence to ensure that they’re arriving where they need to. Follow up with your medical professionals as well as the VA to make sure that the process is moving along.

One way to speed up the process, however, is to utilize the VA’s Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program. This program offers faster decisions on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims.

Contact Herren Law for Expert Legal Representation

If you’ve been waiting for disability benefits, or you need help creating a strong application with the goal of minimizing the wait time as much as possible, contact veteran’s disability attorney William Herren at Herren Law. We serve the Greater Houston area with expert representation and legal aid with the goal of getting your benefits in a timely manner. Call today at (800) 529-7707.

How are Veteran’s Benefits Calculated?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a vast and important federal service that helps provide care and benefits to veterans and their families. Therefore, when injured or wounded during active service, veterans can expect the VA to provide essential care and disability benefits. Unfortunately, the VA benefits process is quite complex, and it is fairly common for Houston residents to confront various issues at every stage, from proving a service-connected disability to knowing the amount of benefits you’ll receive.

For this reason, as well as others, you should consider the help of a Houston veteran’s benefits attorney when filing out the application forms or appealing a denial, if applicable. If you need your veterans benefits, call Herren Law today at (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. In the meantime, you can learn more about how veteran’s benefits are calculated below.

Who is Eligible for Veteran’s Benefits in Texas?

Armed services members are eligible for veteran’s disability benefits if any of the following three conditions apply:

  • You were wounded during active service
  • You were injured during active service
  • You became ill during active service

Additionally, pre-existing conditions or illnesses that were aggravated during active service are covered. Aside from being wounded, the injuries and/or illness can arise during active service or afterwards, as long as the contributing factors to the injury or illness occurred while you were in military service.

Understanding Disability Ratings

The amount of compensation you may be entitled to is generally related to the severity of the disability that you have. In fact, some of the most important details in your disability application include your medical records. Furthermore, you usually have to take a VA medical examination as well. Based on the evidence you include in your claim, the VA then rates your disability from 0% to 100% in 10% increments (e.g. 10%, 20%, 30% etc).

To understand this rating, it can be helpful to look at how your disability affects your work and daily activities. For example, imagine that you twisted your knee while in service and had surgery. You still have some pain and stiffness later on, and so the VA rates your disability at 10%. On the other hand, imagine that you lost both legs. As this would greatly affect your work and daily activities, your disability rating would be much higher.

VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities

The VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities is an important source that organizes covered disabilities into various categories based on the part of the body that’s impacted. Each level of severity in this Schedule also lists the symptoms you must suffer to be eligible for benefits.

For example, under 4.87 — Diseases of the Ear, if you experienced a loss of auricle (outer ear), there are three disability ratings and associated symptoms:

  • Complete loss of both ears — 50%
  • Complete loss of one ear — 30%
  • Deformity of one ear, with loss of one-third or more of the substance — 10%

Contact Herren Law Today to Determine Your Veteran’s Benefits

The amount of benefits you may receive for your disability depends on the rating that the VA provides. Furthermore, the VA calculates your benefits based on if you have a spouse, child(ren), or dependent parent(s), or if you have a seriously disabled spouse. To better understand your benefits, and for legal aid getting started, call our Houston veteran’s benefits law firm today by dialing (800) 529-7707.

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