As a Veterans Benefits Attorney and a service connected disabled Veteran, I would like to help More Veterans get More Information about the VA Claims Process.
So I added a new feature to the Veterans Law Blog – a Veterans Benefits Attorney answers your questions.
The feature is getting more and more popular – how do I know? Because the questions I get are getting harder and harder for me to answer.
That’s a good thing – the tougher your questions, the more we can work together to educate more Veterans about the rules and the law of the VA Claims Process.
Keep this in mind though – the Q&A with Veterans Benefits Attorney on the Veterans Law Blog is NOT legal advice.
I’m answering your questions very generally to get the most information to the most people – but also because I do not give legal advice on the Veterans Law Blog. Nothing – and certainly not a blog – is a substitute for good legal advice from an accredited Veterans Benefits Attorney.
Veterans Benefits Attorney Q&A Feature.
I can’t see a reason why Veterans Advocates should not teach Veterans how to improve their own VA Claims.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to answer a few questions that have come in through MailCall lately.
Just remember – nothing in this post is intended to be specific legal advice.
Veteran Bill S. asks: “I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. The VA took my sleep study results and gave me aBIPAP machine. I submitted the VA claim and it was denied. I worked shift work in air force and didn’t have sleep issues then. It wasn’t until last year after a stroke that I decided to get a sleep study on my own. The VA cancelled my comp and pension and made a decision based on the sleep study evidence. The said it wasn’t service-connected. What is the best was to approach this type of claim?”
Answer: Given the fact that you didn’t have the sleep issues in service, I think that you are going to have to use another path to service connection (Direct Service Connection would be used if your symptoms – or diagnosis – occurred in military service).
So, I would start by asking these questions of your doctors:
Is your stroke service connected and, if so, did your stroke CAUSE your sleep apnea? If so, then you might want to consider using a Secondary Service-Connection theory.
Does the treatment of the Sleep Apnea – or the condition itself – interfere with the treatment of any other service-connected condition or make any other service-connected condition worse? If so, consider using a Service Connection by Aggravation theory.
These aren’t the only things you can ask – but I want to give you a “flavor” for the thought process you should be considering.
Because your sleep apnea doesn’t appear directly related to your military service, the only ways to prove it will likely be secondary or aggravation theories of service-connection.
Here are a few posts on the Blog to help:
The 4 Pillars of a VA Claim – What nearly every Veteran needs to show in their Service Connection Claim.
Service Connection is Like a Bridge – explaining the concept and 3 Elements of Service Connection.
Of course, I’m saying that without knowing all the facts and law of your case, and so it is not a legal opinion. I would strongly encourage you to seek out legal advice from an accredited Veterans Benefits Attorney with a claim like that. Be sure to choose an accredited Veterans Benefits Attorney that is right for your claim and for you.
To do this, check out my Guidebook “8 Things Veterans Need to Know Before Hiring aVeterans Benefits Attorney”.
Veteran’s Surviving Spouse Mary A. asks: “My father died in 1960 from lung cancer. He was a decorated World War II Veteran. Can I still file a claim for service connection due to asbestos exposure or ionized radiation? Any input will be greatly appreciated.”
Answer: Mary, I don’t want to say that you cannot file a claim, because I don’t have enough information.
Generally, the only people that are eligible to file the 2 most common types of claims for survivor benefits are surviving spouses, dependent children, what the VA calls “Helpless Adult Children”, and in some cases indigent parents.
That said, if you are an eligible survivor, there is no reason that you cannot file a claim for DIC or Accrued Benefits. There is NO statute of limitations on survivor benefits. In other words, you can file a claim for DIC or Accrued Benefits the day after a Veteran dies, or 50 years after a Veteran dies…so long as you are an eligible survivor.
The only thing is that the AMOUNT of past-due benefits an eligible survivor can recover is affected by when that survivor files.
I have a lot of posts on Dependents Indemnity Compensation – here is a great place to start reading about this survivor benefit.
Here’s another benefit Survivors should know about – Accrued Benefits.
Also, I’m writing a Veterans Law Guidebook for Survivors – sign up here if you want me to send you an email when its about to be published.