Is the VA currently underrating you? The VA’s strategy is to give veterans the lowest possible rating, so they don’t have to pay out as much money. Therefore, you need to understand how the VA rates disabilities. A clear game plan is how to increase your VA disability rating. You owe it to yourself to win at this “game” the VA has forced you to play. Today, we will examine three key tips I used to increase my VA disability rating.
Increase My VA Disability Rating: Enemy’s Battle Plan
The enemy (the VA) gives you their battle plan. Your ratings are all based around the publicly available CFR 38 part 4 “Schedule For Rating Disabilities.” You must read through any disabilities that apply to you. However, you must also know where to attack from.
You need a copy of your service medical records (the C-File), and any private treatment records that relate to issues that stem from your active duty service. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to win an increased rating. You need to comb through these medical records, and start your claim with the items that have the most documentation.
In addition, you need to study the “DBQ” (Disability Benefit Questionnaire). The CFR 38 part 4 is the battle plan, but the DBQ is the map. The VA raters will record your exam on a DBQ. This is a fill in the blank document that the VA rater will follow. You must understand how the rater thinks. In short, you get to read both the enemy’s battle plan and map, and you should not waste that opportunity.
However, you must also create additional documents of your own. You need to learn how to write a personal statement.
Increase My VA Disability Rating: Personal Statement
Have you ever heard of a “buddy letter?” Most veterans are at least somewhat familiar with writing buddy letters. Personal statements and buddy letters are “lay evidence.” They differ from medical evidence such as a nexus letter. However, they strengthened my claims, and helped to ensure I could increase my VA disability rating.
Normally, a person close to you provides a “buddy letter,” and this helps establish the impact of service-connected injuries. Frequently, these statements detail how a service-connected disability affects the veteran. This evidence shows the VA how the injuries affect your day-to-day life.
However, you also need to write a personal statement. Unfortunately, most veterans will forget things while in a C&P exam. It is critical that the examiner understand exactly how your disabilities affect you. In that regard, you need to write a personal statement for every single disability claim that you file. This is your catch all way to ensure that the VA has the complete picture – even if you forget to say it out loud.
In addition, it is important that your personal statements be brief. You need to describe how you were injured, when you were injured, and how it affects you.
“In 2005, I jumped out of a duece and a half and rolled my right ankle while I was in AIT. I went to sick call, and the doctor diagnosed me with a sprain. In 2006, I again went to sick call. Running at PT caused the right ankle to swell. I continue to have ankle pain daily. In addition, I take pain killers daily to combat the pain. I cannot run long distances or stand for over two hours.”
Go to the Doctor!
You read the enemy’s battle plan, and you have written personal statements. Now what? How do you increase your VA disability rating?
The next step is to provide current evidence. The more specific and direct your evidence, the better. When submitting medical records, include all pertinent information about your diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. If you have any private treatment records, be sure to send those in as well.
However, this is not the earlier evidence from active duty that you assembled from your C-File. In fact, this needs to be current medical evidence. You must show the VA that you are currently receiving medical care for any issues that you are filing. In addition, this will continue to strengthen your claim. Thankfully, I continue to seek care for my service-connected injuries. In addition to treatment, this will help as I seek to increase my VA disability rating.
In short, you must be receiving ongoing medical treatment for your service-connected conditions. If you are not currently receiving any sort of medical care, it will be very difficult to increase your disability rating. The VA will want to see that you are actively seeking treatment.
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