Did you know that Guard and Reserve members are eligible for VA disability? The process is more difficult, but we can help walk you through the steps. The LOD (line of duty determination) is an important part of the claims process. As a result, you need to know how to prove your case.
Line of Duty Determination (Best Case)
The line of duty determination is a designation that is used to show whether the troop was on duty. Reserve/Guard troops are not eligible for benefits if the injury occurred off duty.
This LOD designation is a key first step to establishing eligibility. Active duty troops are “on duty” at all times. Typically, active troops do not need to prove LOD.
First, the VA needs a medical report from the time of the injury. This report should show that the injury happened on duty. Typically, this would come from sick call or the on base hospital. In addition, you can also use a civilian provider’s records.
Second, your branch needs to perform an investigation at the time of the injury. Your command needs to fill out DA Form 2173 (or equivalent). This is your command acknowledging that your injury was incurred while on duty.
Once you have a copy of your medical report, you will need to submit it to the VA along with your claim. The VA will then review your report and determine whether or not you meet the criteria for the LOD designation.
LOD approval does not guarantee that your claim will be approved. However, it can help to ensure that your claim is processed accurately. In addition, it ensures you receive the benefits you are entitled to.
Line Of Duty Determination (Second Option)
What if you dont have a medical report and DA Form 2173? How do you prove something is service-connected? It depends on the injury. PTSD and PTSD (MST) do not require typical documentation. The VA can award a PTSD or MST claim via your personal statements and current diagnosis. The VA will take your personal statement in lieu of documentation.
However, what about something like a knee or back injury? “Buddy statements” are the key to victory. These are simple, short letters written by those who can attest to the accuracy of your claim. These letters can detail what they have seen in relation to your injury. Ideally, fellow troops that witnessed the injury will be the best statements. In addition, you can also use buddy statements from family, friends, clergy, and medical professionals.
Line of Duty Determination (Last Choice)
We know that many VA claims are filed decades after you separate service. Many students in our BOOT CAMP are Desert Storm era veterans filing for the first time. It can be difficult to find a line of duty determination or members of your unit from thirty years ago. However, a personal statement is a possible way to service connect an injury.
This is the weakest form of evidence, but it is possible. A personal statement is a buddy letter that you write for yourself. You can articulate what happened, and how it affects you. It is essential that you do not embellish or write more than one or two pages. Be polite and direct, but be brief. The rater needs to read this letter quickly.
A personal statement is a great piece of supporting evidence. However, it is tough to prove a claim on just a personal statement. We would encourage you to exhaust all forms of evidence before using only a personal statement.
But The VA Said I’m Not Eligible!
I separated service in 2014, and the VA told the exact same thing. Guess what? I am eligible for both health care and VA disability. I have no idea why the VA employee tried to convince me I wasn’t eligible. Thankfully, I ignored him. You should to.
Reserve/guard troops do not have the 24 months of active duty service needed to be eligible for VA health care. As a result, many veterans believe this means they don’t qualify for VA disability. VA health care and VA disability are two different programs. You do not need 24 months of active service to receive VA disability.
In addition, a line of duty determination resulting in a 10% or higher VA disability rating makes you eligible for VA health care. This eligibility supersedes your lack of 24 months active duty.
I Have A 10% Disability Rating – What Now?
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