This is one of our early articles we’re bringing back by popular demand:
1. Do not be macho—It is vital that your conditions are accurately recorded before you separate from the military, or you will not have the evidence to support a VA Disability Claim if your conditions get worse in the future. Do not try to act big and brave. It will just hurt you in the end. The doctor doesn’t care either way, so you really have nothing to prove.
2. Do not be a baby—Do not try to play up your conditions to be worse than they are. Doctors have ways of testing this, so they may catch on to you without your knowing. Your conditions are rated on their reports, so if they infer that you are lying, you won’t get a good rating. You may have many legit conditions that deserve to be rated, but if you lie about one, the doctor will question your honesty about all of them. Don’t stab yourself in the foot.
3. Do not go in uneducated—The only person fighting for your disability is yourself. You need to be educated on the military disability system and how your conditions are rated so that you can make sure everything proceeds as it should and you get the rating you deserve. We provide all this information. Just Find Your Condition on our site.
4. Do not take someone else’s word for it—The military disability system is super complicated, and the DoD and VA do not require all their employees who work with the system to understand it completely. It is VERY likely that you will be given incorrect information or advice at least once during the process. The VA admits that they make mistakes in 25% of all cases. Be proactive. Read through our site and make sure you have the correct info so that your case is handled correctly the first time.
5. Do not delay the VA C&P exams—The C&P exams should be conducted as soon after separation as possible. If the initial application for VA disability is not filed within 1 year of the date of separation, the VA will not give disability back pay for all the months between the date of separation and the VA Rating Decision. As long as it is filed within the 1-year mark, you will get full compensation for all these months once the VA issues their Rating Decision, no matter how long it takes.
6. Do not assume that the physicians performing your exams know how your conditions are rated—I can guarantee you that the majority of the physicians performing your exams for disability compensation do not know how the VASRD rates conditions. Sad, but true. No wonder there are so many mistakes made. It is VITAL to your disability ratings that the proper tests are performed or the proper measurements recorded. The VASRD doesn’t require a million tests to be performed for a condition; just whatever is necessary to rate it. For example, if you have an elbow condition, the physicians might take a million x-rays, but really all that is required is the range of motion measurements. If all the x-rays are included in the report, but no range of motion measurements are taken, the condition will not be rated properly. Make sure you know how your conditions are rated so you can make sure that the physician records the correct information.
7. Do not submit every medical record you have when submitting a claim or appeal—The disability system takes forever. Period. The VA takes a million years to get through a single case. It would be awesome to increase this time, so here is the only thing you can really do to help this: only submit the medical records that relate to the pertinent conditions. So, if you have a heart condition, they really don’t need your medical records from every tooth cleaning you’ve ever had. It’s just not pertinent, and it wastes their time since they have to sort through every page of your medical records to find the pertinent information. This comes from someone who has had to sift through thousands of pages to find the 50 or so that are pertinent to rating. Please have mercy on us. That being said, if you question whether something is pertinent or not, definitely submit it. It’s better for them to sort through a few more pages than not have the proper information in there at all.
8. Do not be macho—This needs a recap. They need to know just how serious your condition really is. Tell them the truth the first time and save yourself the headache of having an incorrect disability rating.
9. Do not be a lying-son-of-a-biscuit—This also needs a recap. Don’t try to cheat the system. It’s just not okay, and it can actually come back to hurt you. Don’t steal from the people who really need the disability money. Tell the truth, and get what you deserve, just like everyone else.
10. Do not sit around doing nothing after separation—Although some conditions are very black and white when it comes to how they should be rated, many of them are up to the judgment of the Rating Authorities. While the Rating Authorities are not supposed to let personal feelings affect their rating decisions, it happens all the time. For example, there was a man who had PTSD. His symptoms put him right on the line between a 20% rating and a 30% rating. While the man wasn’t currently employed, he was actively looking for work. At all examinations, he tried to be honest. He seemed on paper to be an overall great guy. They are definitely going to give him a 30% rating. On the other hand, if the same guy badmouths the military during his exams, obviously lies to the physicians, is sitting at home not trying to do anything to improve his life, just wanting to get the money he “deserves” from the military, he’s definitely going to be given the lower rating. You would give him the lower rating too. Having any sort of disability sucks. We totally get that. You do deserve the rating that is correct for you. So show us that you’re a good person. Get out and be proactive about moving on with your life as best you can, and the Rating Authorities will be more likely to judge in favor of your case if there is any grey area.