The Military Disability system was designed with the intent to properly and fairly compensate all disabled American veterans for any disabilities caused by military service. Even with all the best intentions, however, the system sadly falls short all too often.
There is nothing more frustrating than feeling trapped in an unfair system, and too many of our veterans are wasting their efforts trying to fight the system in the wrong ways.
So what can you do that will do the most good? When does fighting just waste your time and effort (and maybe even money)?
First, educating yourself about the system and how it works is of the upmost importance. We founded www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com for exactly this purpose. When I worked for the PDBR, it was clear that the majority of veterans who applied were completely clueless about how the system actually worked, and it wasn’t really their fault. They had been given wrong or incomplete information somewhere along the line, and the majority of their frustration came from simply not having the right information. With the right info, you’ll be able to easily resolve the majority of the problems you face.
If you have all the info and are doing everything correctly, but are not satisfied with a decision that is made somewhere along the way, there is a system in place for you to appeal that decision. It is very important that you follow this process. People outside the official appeals system do not have the power to make any changes, so continuing to argue your case with them will only frustrate you and them and not get anything really done. Filling out the forms to file an appeal may not feel as satisfying as yelling at the poor schlup who answers the phone at the VA office, but it’s much more likely to do you good.
Now, if you’ve done everything right—submitted all the right information, made your case airtight, etc.—and your appeal is denied, what do you do? From here, you have only two options: continue to appeal to higher courts or accept your ratings for now and try to get the laws themselves changed.
Continuing the appeals process could be an extremely long, tough, expensive road, but it may be worth it in some cases. If your appeals are all denied, this is the only option that could get your ratings changed. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the right to override the laws in special cases. So, if you are trapped in a technicality of the law that is clearly unfair, you may be able to get the Secretary to make an exception in your case. To get to him, however, you have to first go through the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Many veterans who pursue their cases this far choose to higher a lawyer to help. It is an option that could become very expensive and may ultimately not do any good. For some, though, it has been totally worth the fight. That choice is ultimately up to you.
But if you choose not to continue to appeal, does that mean that you just have to sit back and take it? No. While you may not have the power to get your ratings changed now, you do have the power to influence Congress to fix the faulty laws. Write a letter to your Congressman explaining the details of your case and how the laws have failed to give you the proper compensation you deserve. You may feel that this option is pointless. Will a Congressman really care about your case? Believe it or not, the treatment and welfare of our veterans is a BIG issue in Congress right now. Many bills are in Congress, many changes are being proposed. Now is a great time to let your voice be heard.
Ultimately, there are far too many veterans who are being harmed because of the shortcomings in the laws governing military disability. If you are one of them, it may seem that you are trapped, but there are still ways you can being proactive and help work toward positive change for the future.
This is a bit of an early announcement, but we want to get the excitement going. The VASRD, the law that governs how conditions are rated for DoD Disability and VA Disability, is currently being rewritten. They will be releasing the new changes one section at a time, inviting feedback on the changes before they are finalized.
As each section is released, we will be posting the changes on this blog and inviting all of you to comment. Let us know what you think of the changes. Are there things they missed? Do the changes seem fair? What loopholes do you see? Once we collect all of your thoughts and insights, we’ll include them in an official document that we’ll submit to the Congressional Committee. They must consider all the documents submitted before they can finalize a law.
Join with us and let your voice be truly heard!
We’ll keep you informed as we get closer to those changes being released.