Who is eligible for VA disability compensation?
If you believe the internet, or what the guy sitting across from you at your appointment at the VA hospital said which is what he heard from some guy who was sitting next to him at his last appointment then the answer to the questions who is eligible for VA compensation? and how do you get it? is no one, and you don't. First, though, let's bust those myths. VA is still compiling FY16 data, but in FY15, VA paid more money to compensate more veterans with more claimed medical conditions rated at higher average percentages than ever before. As you can see, someone's getting paid, and that someone is (as of FY15) 4.56 million someones and those someones are veterans who took home $4 billion dollars in FY15 for their service-connected disabilities.
So, who are these people getting approved, and how do they do it? VA disability compensation is taxpayer money, there's a legal process to claim that money. This means that VA disability compensation is guarded by the laws that your elected lawmakers wrote. The laws explain who is eligible: those who have separated from active military service with any discharge except dishonorable, as well as those still serving in the Reserves/National Guard. That's the first part. The second part is that, if you want to claim an injury or medical condition, it must have happened to you during the time you were active including Reserves/Guard activated, Reserves/Guard drill and/or annual training. An addition to the second part allows one to claim active military service aggravated a pre-service injury or medical condition. The third part is that, if you claim an injury or medical condition that occurred/happened to you during active service, then you need to give VA evidence of the injury or medical condition that occurred/happened during the time you were in active service.
Note: This does not mean that it had to happen while deployed, and it doesn't mean it had to happen in uniform or during the duty day. You can file a claim if you served active duty during peacetime, or got injured in a pickup basketball game off post after the duty day, and if the injuries you sustained affect you today, then it's something you could claim.
So, what do you do if you don't have much in your records? You can provide evidence. You can use pictures (you, your wound, your clothing and gear, your vehicle, your AAR, etc.), receipts, unit citations, award letters, prescriptions, news clippings, base hospital records, intake and discharge logs; post-service private doctor records; and statements from your spouse, your commander, your platoon sergeant, your roommate, any witness who was there or knew you or was affected by your injury/medical conditions. The last thing you need is actually two things: a current medical diagnosis from a medical professional (VA or civilian), and for that doctor to give the professional opinion that after reviewing your military medical records your current diagnosis the injury or condition you suffer from right now is because of what happened to you in active service. Yes! Have the doc review your records. [Source: VAntage Point — Jason Davis — Feb. 17, 2017]
As always please see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always have a great week.