Working with the Department of Veterans Affairs disability system can be rough, especially since most veterans are thrust into the system with little or no legal knowledge at all. If your military medical command didn't provide a signed and sealed package that describes how every condition you have is related to military service, there's always a chance that your claim may be denied. If you've been denied despite your best efforts--or if your best efforts seem to be missing--here are a few ways to right those wrongs.
Make Multiple Copies To Protect Your Originals
Paperwork problems shouldn't be new to veterans, no matter how disappointing they are. If you weren't lectured about record keeping while in the service, take this to heart: make copies and email everything to yourself.
Your most important documents out of the military are your service record and your medical record. Even if a servicemember is in perfect health and with an honorable, normal, uneventful career, there are many benefits and citizenship situations where you may need to provide proof.
That proof can easily be lost.
Have two or three additional copies of your paperwork ready. If you're reading this while still in the military, visit your base's administrative office and ask for copying services. If they won't give you copies (this costs their command money, and can be expensive if they allow every single service member to copy a hundred or more pages), someone can direct you to a low-cost copying service.
Protect Your Rights With Failure Reporting
No matter how many copies you have, document when that evidence is lost. This isn't just to fuss at the person who dropped the ball or to get someone fired; you need proof that you at least attempted to provide proof in order to protect certain rights.
Backpay for disability compensation is a major benefit to protect, and your backpay is linked to when you first filed your claim. If your claim or appeal is denied for erroneous reasons that should have been covered by missing paperwork through no fault of your own, you'll need proof that you at least tried to send the information.
When you send evidence or relevant paperwork, try to use fax if possible. Email a copy of the receipt to yourself, or take pictures of the successful fax. Veterans also have access to the eBenefits service, which allows users to upload information to the system, and you can use this system to store a backup copy of your submitted information. This shows that an effort was made, and can protect your backpay benefits.
Get A Lawyer Before Mistakes Become Too Much
One lost piece of paperwork isn't worth suing over, and it's fine to have a short disagreement about whether you sent paperwork or not. After the second or third time of losing paperwork or claiming that information was never received, don't turn it into a debate or yelling point. Get a lawyer.
A personal injury lawyer can research the relevant laws for evidence reporting, along with the proper offices for reporting negligence or misconduct. Although you can report the information yourself, the clout from potential legal threats can motivate claims offices to be more careful with your information.
Especially in cases where your claim information is being delayed, you don't want to risk being tossed around between VA offices because of someone else's mistake. Contact a personal injury attorney and explain your situation to protect your disability rights. For more information, contact a business such as Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC.