Tag Archive for: Kansas VA benefits attorney

FAQs Regarding Veterans Benefits & Eligibility

When applying for Veteran’s Benefits, it is important to educate yourself to the fullest extent possible.  In other words, having knowledge about the law and the associated process of qualifying for benefits can have a significant impact in your case.  While an experienced Kansas City VA benefits attorney can guide you through the process, being well-informed often means the difference between getting benefits or not.  Accordingly, I have put together a list of the most common FAQs regarding VA benefits in order to help you maximize your chances of getting the benefits you deserve.  They are as follows:

  1. 1.      What is veteran’s disability compensation and am I eligible?

You may be eligible for VA benefits in the event that you were injured, stricken with an illness or wounded during active combat while serving in the military. Keep in mind that pre-existing conditions or diseases which were worsened by active military service may also be covered.  Although the majority of service-connected disabilities appear during or right after one’s military service, there are others that do not manifest themselves for years to come.  It is important to speak with an experience VA benefits attorney to help analyze your case and determine whether you may qualify for benefits in this regard.

  1. 2.      How is disability compensation determined?

The ultimate amount of disability benefits awarded hinges upon the severity of your disability.  When applying for benefits, it is important to provide comprehensive medical records so that the VA and determine an appropriate amount of compensation. Oftentimes, a veteran must submit to a medical examination conducted by a VA doctor in order to complete the review process.  The VA rates your disability and expresses it as a percentage.  The payment you receive is based upon this percentage.  Having dependents can increase this amount under certain circumstances.

  1. 3.      What is the VA’s pension benefit and how do I qualify?

A monthly monetary amount may be available to veterans who served during a war who are facing limited income and permanent disability. The disability does not necessarily have to be connected to military service but it cannot result from any intentional or wrongful conduct.

  1. 4.      How is a monthly pension amount determined by the VA?

Pensions are based upon need.  In order to qualify, you must be considered financially needy based upon your income, savings, number of dependents, and the property you own.  If you receive any SSDI benefits, your pension amount may be reduced.  However, your benefits may be increased in the event that you require long term care or are permanently housebound.

  1. 5.      What do I have to do to apply for VA benefits?

If you are a veteran, you may be able to obtain assistance from a VA service officer in order to start the application process.  Keep in mind that veterans and their dependents may file for benefits.  You can call the VA at their toll free number, which is 1-800-827-1000.  You can also speak with a qualified Kansas City VA benefits attorney to help you with the application process, especially if you think you may have difficult proving eligibility.

Call Us to Find out How We can Help You Get the VA Benefits You Deserve

Ms. Sanger has helped numerous veterans during the benefit application process and has also represented them in appealing a denial or rating decision.  The Sanger Law Office is ideally located in Lawrence, KS and represents veterans who have been denied disability benefits both in Kansas and Missouri. If you are having challenges obtaining VA disability benefits or have any questions, contact attorney Danielle Sanger today for an initial free consultation at 785-979-4353.


Return of Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Reveals the Psychological Toll of War

The culture of the military advocates resilience, courage, sacrifice by the individual and strength; think about just a couple of slogans from our military groups—“Army Strong,” or “The Few, The Proud, The Marines.”  Perceived weaknesses are simply not welcomed as we perhaps believe those weaknesses to be contrary to our perception of an effective military. It is clear that our society expects the men and women of our military to keep a stiff upper lip, even in the face of psychological trauma.

Consider, however, the fact that from 2007 to 2009 our military troops saw a 40% increase in suicide among soldiers. It appears that our society can readily accept the physical wounds of war, yet we shy away from open discussions of psychological wounds. The stigma we have attached to the mental health of our soldiers can have tragic consequences in their feelings of self-worth. While our expectations that our soldiers must have a warrior mentality may not change any time soon, maybe our culture can begin to acknowledge the emotional consequences of war.

One Soldier’s Story

Sergeant Louis Loftus, 24, was home on a mid-tour leave when he began to realize something was very wrong. Loftus was showing photographs to family members of his time in Afghanistan. Out of the blue a photo which showed a place where a fellow soldier had been killed brought him to tears. The problems grew worse. By the time Lofus came from his second deployment he was suffering nightmares, anxiety, sleep disorders and began distancing himself from those he cared about – and who cared about him. Loftus still has a hard time discussing his eventual diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, particularly because he admits to being “one of those guys that made fun of people with post-traumatic stress –in my mind.” Loftus spoke to Brian Williams in an interview which was seen on NBC’s Rock Center and sadly admitted that he now knows PTSD is a very real issue.

In fact, two and a half million American soldiers have been through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the psychological toll continues to mount. The Veterans Administration treated over a hundred thousand veterans for the disorder however it is likely these numbers are considerably higher since many veterans do not seek treatment. Loftus was stationed in Southern Afghanistan in a true Taliban stronghold where he and the other members of his unit were under constant attack. IED’s were common and because the roads were extremely narrow patrols had to be undertaken on foot. In less than one year, Loftus’ unit found over 6,000 IED’s and in their searches for the dangerous devices, 200 soldiers were injured and 38 killed.

When asked about fellow soldiers who died in those minefields, Loftus became very emotional, stating he generally tried not to think about it because he felt a responsibility to set a good example for the others in his unit. NBC News followed Loftus for two years – from the danger of the frontlines to his everyday life at home. Five months after NBC met Loftus he was honorably discharged and sent home to Ohio. Those around him noticed almost immediately that the trauma of Afghanistan had followed him home. Depression set in and his drinking escalated.

A 2012 report from the American Journal of Public Health showed that 39% of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were considered positive for abuse of alcohol. A psychiatrist and director of the DOD Center for Psychological Health, Captain Paul Hammer, believes that many soldiers feel they are doing the most important thing in their life when they are fighting for our country. Once those soldiers have experienced the trauma of war returning home can feel anti-climactic and they may feel as though there is little purpose to their life.

While Loftus eventually sought help from the local Veteran’s hospital, beginning therapy and medication, his underlying rage began surfacing. Loftus’ life began spiraling out of control; his relationships disintegrated and eventually he suffered a serious anxiety attack that landed him in the hospital. Once out, Loftus was charged with a domestic violence felony after he engaged in an altercation with his girlfriend, then several days later he became intoxicated, beat up his father and fought with the police. A month following Loftus’ sentence of three years’ probation and time in a halfway house, Loftus and his girlfriend welcomed a son, Mason Loftus, into their lives. Although Loftus has learned to manage his PTSD – largely for the sake of his new son – he still considers it a daily struggle.

There are scores of veterans who have suffered in the same way Louis Loftus has yet many of them will never seek help due to the stereotypes of the tough soldier who can handle anything. It is clear that things must change and our veterans must get the help they desperately need – and deserve. Military leaders must be encouraged to speak openly about their own combat experiences and all veterans as well as those currently deployed must be able to talk about their experiences in a safe environment.

An Overview of the VA Disability Ratings System

If you are a member of the armed services and were injured during periods of active duty, you may be entitled to receive veterans’ disability benefits.  However, the process involved in obtaining these benefits can prove to be rather time consuming, complicated and sometimes, a rather complex undertaking.  Specifically, if you file a claim for disability benefits, you may be required by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (“VA”) to undergo an independent medical evaluation. The information obtained during this examination will be used by the VA to determine whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits and, how much money you may be entitled to receive.

 In evaluating your claim, the VA uses a system called the “Schedule for Rating Disabilities”, which helps them to assess the nature and severity of your claimed disability.  This schedule contains a laundry list of medical conditions, with over 700 diagnostic codes that are organized based upon the various bodily systems, such as the cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems.   In addition to the aforementioned, said schedule also includes a whole host of different qualifying mental conditions and disorders.

The VA schedule also provides certain criteria for assigning a specific disability rating to your case, which can range anywhere from 0 to 100 percent.  The percentage assigned to your condition depends upon the severity of your disability.  A higher percentage will allow you to collect a larger amount of disability benefits.  However, the VA will reduce this rating pursuant to your earning capacity, which is often determined via the VA’s medical examination.  In terms of compensation, this depends upon the rating assigned to your case, and whether you have dependents, such as a spouse, children and parents.  Keep in mind that you may be entitled to more money in the event that you lose the use of certain body parts, such as limbs and organs.

In rendering a ratings determination, the VA reviews the report generated from your medical examination and also, considers the same disability under various diagnosis codes.  In the event that there is any doubt as to the nature of your disability, the VA will normally decide in your favor.  For instance, if there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate either a 40 or 60 percent disability rating, you will likely receive the higher percentage pursuant to the Reasonable Doubt Rule.  According to the Reasonable Doubt rule, codified at 38 C.F.R. §3.102, when there is an equal or almost equal amount of evidence in support of and against a benefits claimant, said claimant will be given the “benefit of the doubt” and receive an award in his or her favor.

Whatever the situation, having an experience veterans disability ratings attorney on your side can often make a huge difference in your case.  Accordingly, Ms. Sanger can help simplify the challenging and complex process of obtaining disability benefits and represent you in appealing a denial of your claim or, an adverse rating decision.  She can also assist you in accurately completing the paperwork so that you do not suffer even longer delays in an already lengthy process. The Sanger Law Office is centrally located in Lawrence, KS and represents individuals who have been denied veterans’ disability benefits in both Kansas and Missouri.  If you are having challenges obtaining VA disability benefits in Missouri or Kansas, contact Danielle Sanger today for an initial free consultation at 785-979-4353.