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New Court Ruling May Make It Easier For Veterans To Get Disability Increase
October 25, 2017
The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued a decision in September 2017 that could possibly make it much easier for veterans with service-connected disabilities to the upper and lower back, neck, and all joints to obtain a higher disability ratings, even in cases where veterans are already receiving disability benefits for disabling injuries occurred during military service.
See Sharp v Shulkin
Visual Aids Help Veterans Win Disability Claims
October 31, 2017
Visual communication involves the use of visual elements, such as drawings, illustrations and electronic images, to convey ideas and information to an audience, especially a VA rater. Seeing a good visual aid is a powerful way to engage a VA rater and galvanize attention to your claim documentation. Not only do they provide supplementary information to VA raters, but good and relevant visual aids show images that allow the VA rater to connect a disability to a specific scene that may be responsible for the disability. Furthermore, solid and compelling visual aids can promote deeper thinking about your claim and build more credibility about your case. In fact, as our source reported to us, including a visual aid in your claim documentation stimulates the raters thinking, promotes critical thinking about your claim, and ties together your disability with a very powerful and compelling images.
For example, one veteran who made the case for hearing loss and tinnitus, included a diagram of his office building while serving in the Air Force. The diagram showed that his office was next to the base flightline, and for 10 years the veteran breathed in JP4 jet fumes. The veteran included a research article that showed JP4 was linked to tinnitus and hearing loss. His case was won, and a compensation award granted.
Another example, a veteran included a drawing of a very elaborate battle scene where he was drawn (not his actual body) being blown away from an exploding storage tank. The veteran was granted 80% for TBI.
Prior to submitting a battle scene drawing, the veteran submitted in his own words details about his explosive event, Stressor Letters, Buddy Statements, and Lay Statements. Nothing seemed to work until he submitted clear, concise, and effective visual aids.
See Visual Aid Samples
VA Launches Program Aimed at Providing Veterans More Options in Claims Disagreements
November 3, 2017
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will launch the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program, or “RAMP,” with the goal of providing Veterans with the earliest possible resolution of their disagreement with VA’s decision on their benefit claims.
RAMP will provide expanded opportunities for Veterans to enter the new, more efficient claims review process outlined in the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on August 23, 2017.
“At its core, VA’s mission is to provide Veterans with the highest quality of service,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “The new process under the RAMP initiative reflects major steps in not only VA’s effort of continuous improvement, but also in providing greater choice for Veterans and their families.”
VA began its 18-month implementation of the new process immediately after the bill became law.
By February 2019, all requests for review of VA decisions will be processed under the new, multi-lane process. VA’s legacy appeals process was slow and complex. The new law streamlines the process and includes safeguards ensuring claimants receive the earliest effective date possible for their claims.
Participation in RAMP is voluntary; however, Veterans can expect to receive a review of VA’s initial decision on their claim faster in RAMP than in the legacy appeals process. The initiative allows participants to have their decisions reviewed in the Higher-Level or Supplemental Claim review lanes outlined in the law.
The reviewer can overturn previous decisions based on a difference of opinion, or return it for correction. Participants who select the Supplemental Claim Lane may submit new evidence and may receive VA’s assistance in developing evidence in support of their claim.