I want to talk to you today about something that I’ve touched on in some other articles in the past. But, I feel like it is so important to so many veterans and so many claims that it deserves a full discussion.
Are you getting the full amount of VA benefits that you should be getting?
Recently, we won a claim on appeal for a veteran and received the decision. We reviewed the code sheet and the ratings decision. Both indicated that this was a “full grant” of the benefits to the veteran.
The first thing I do is question that assertion. Is it really a full grant of benefits?
What does a “full grant” of VA benefits really mean?
A full grant of VA benefits is nothing short of everything that you are seeking or that you are entitled to under the law. A full grant is not what the VA thinks you should receive.
I see way too many times where VA tells the veteran that it is a full grant of benefits when it really is not. But, more importantly, how do you know if this is a full grant or it is something that is only a partial grant that you should appeal?
What types of things should you be looking for in the decision from VA?
One of the things I always look at is the effective date for the rating. Effective date can be easy if there is a clear date for the application for benefits.
How can the effective date be wrong?
Suppose you applied on August 1, 2013 for a 50% rating for your disability. Then, VA issues a decision granting a 50% rating with an effective date of August 1, 2013. That would be a full grant of benefits.
But, what if the VA only awarded you 30% as of August 1, 2013 and increased it to 50% as of August 1, 2016? That is what we call a staged rating. You get one rating for a certain period and a different rating for another period.
If you feel you were entitled to the 50% rating all the way back to the date of your application, you need to appeal that issue. You should not accept the statement from VA or except their statement that it is a full grant of benefits.
Another way VA can mess up the effective date is to award you a single rating but not go all the way back. Take the following example:
- You apply for benefits for a 50% rating going back to September 1, 2014.
- VA grants your 50% rating but only awards you benefits going back to September 1, 2015.
You received the rating percentage for which you applied. But, VA did not award you benefits for the whole time for which you applied. You probably need to file a notice of disagreement and appeal in this situation.
Can the rating itself be wrong as well?
Another main point is the actual rating itself. Most veterans focus on this. However, it is not always as easy as it seems to notice when VA makes a mistake.
VA’s ratings are complex. Each condition has its own rating rules. I have written a number of articles about how VA rates different medical conditions such as the following:
In reviewing the rating, you need to determine if VA granted the right rating based on your current condition. Even after you do that, you may have to deal with the staged rating situation I mentioned earlier. If VA said you were 30% for two years and then 50% after that, you will need to determine whether VA is right.
Many times, VA is not right. If you should have received a 50% rating for the whole time, you will need to file an appeal. So, be sure and examine the ratings carefully.
What if I am not sure whether I received a full grant of benefits?
I know that VA decisions can be difficult to understand. In fact, the whole VA claims process can be very confusing.
If you are uncertain whether you received all the benefits you should, I would recommend you talk to an attorney. Our firm provides free veterans disability benefit consultations. Many veterans find that this process helps clear up their questions about a VA decision.
Setting up a free consultation only takes a couple of minutes. You can do it in one of two ways:
- Call us at (770) 214-8885
- Complete and submit the consultation request form on this page
Please let us know if we can be of assistance.