Strategic Veteran Frequently Asked Questions
Quick Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Our goal is to provide Veterans with all the information we can. With the proper resources you can be
a truly Strategic Veteran. Here are some answers to common questions to help
save you some time and stress.
Strategic Veteran is an informational resource for Veterans. We are not an official Veterans Service Officer (VSO). Like a VSO, we provide information about the benefits and options for you regarding your claims. But VSOs help Veterans fill out their claims and paperwork; VSOs can even represent Veterans at hearings. Strategic Veteran is a private information resource providing helpful information about Veteran benefits.
When a Veteran files a disability claim with the VA, they will receive a VA Rating Decision letter. That letter outlines the decision of the VA’s rating board. The VA Ratings Board will decide if the medical conditions are service-connected, eligible for benefits, and the rating associated with their decision. The letter includes a rating that is a percentage of 0%-100%. That number correlates to what compensation a Veteran receives. This letter will also include when, and if, a Veteran will begin receiving benefits.
The VA Disability Rating is a classification of the severity of either a single disability or a combined total of various disabilities a Veteran is service-connected for. A 100% rating would be something that has limited a Veteran’s ability to work or take care of themselves. A 0% rating would be something that does not negatively affect their health or is ineligible for compensation.
The total combined VA Disability Rating is the combination of the various ailments, disabilities, and medical conditions a Veteran is service-connected for. All of the multiple conditions are combined into one specific rating that dictates the exact amount of disability benefits.
The C&P exam is often called the Compensation & Pension examination because it determines a Veteran’s compensation and pension benefits. The C&P exam is an exam performed by a VA certified doctor; some conditions can require multiple exams i.e., from a specialist. These can still be considered a C&P exam.
Veterans can receive both VA disability and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, receiving both can affect how much you will receive. For example, if a Veteran receives SSDI benefits, the amount of VA disability benefits may be lower. VA benefits can also impact a Veteran’s eligibility for SSDI benefits.
A Veteran can technically work while receiving disability benefits from the VA. However, it does vary by disability. For example, if a Veteran has received an individual unemployability rating of 100%, that means the medical condition keeps the Veteran from being able to work. So if they were to work, it would negatively affect their claim. Some benefit amounts are decided specifically based on a Veteran being unable to work.
Veteran benefits are not federally taxable income.
- A Supplemental Claim can take an average of 125 days to process.
- A Higher-Level Review can take an average of 125 days to process.
- An Appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals can vary based on the type of appeal.
- The Direct Appeal: Claims are decided within 365 days.
- The Evidence Appeal: Claims may take longer than 365 days.
- A Hearing: Appeals with a formal hearing are projected to take the most extended time and may exceed 365 days.
Veterans have one year to file an appeal from the date on their Rating Decision letter. If you file within that time, you will retain the same effective date. If you have let your claim lapse, you can re-apply and open another VA disability compensation benefits claim. But you will have a new effective date.
It’s common to feel underrated for VA disability benefits. For example, the VA may assign Veterans 10% and 20% ratings when they may be eligible for a 40% or 50% rating. You can file an appeal and include supplemental information or new evidence to try and increase a rating. Keep in mind that not every decision or rating will be increase for multiple reasons, ranging from missing medical evidence or disability only having a single rating.
You will want to appeal with evidence connecting your secondary conditions. Some Veterans use VA disability benefits “buddy statements” or evidence-based medical consults to develop medical evidence to support Veterans’ claims. You will want to present supporting medical evidence to the VA that your conditions are secondary to your service-connected impairments.
You can check the status of your disability or appeal or claim via the VA’s web portal. Sign in to your My HealtheVet account, a DS Logon account (used for eBenefits and milConnect), or a verified ID.me account created on VA.gov. From there, go to your My VA dashboard.
Scroll down to the Track Claims section. You’ll see a summary of the latest status information for any open claims or appeals you may have. Click on the View Status button for a specific claim. You’ll go to a page with more details about that claim’s status and supporting evidence. Evidence may include documents like doctor’s notes, test results, or diagnoses.
The surviving spouses of Veterans are not eligible to collect Disability insurance after they die. However, accrued disability benefits would be paid to a Veteran’s spouse or family after their death. Accrued disability benefits would be any benefits that had not yet been paid due to a delay. For example, if a Veteran were waiting for a payout after an appeal and did not receive it before their death, this balance would be paid out to their spouse or children.
If a Veteran dies, there are some potential benefits available to their surviving spouses, children, and parents in some cases.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Service Members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
A death pension is a need-based payment issued to a spouse who has not remarried or the unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran. Recipients must not make over a certain amount of “countable income.” The Veteran in question must also have served at least one day during a period of war.