Veterans who will be discharging less than one year from now or who have discharged within the past year are in a CRITICAL stage as it relates to their VA claims due to the time sensitivity of their unrecognized potential claims and previously undiagnosed conditions. All foundational claims must be fully developed and supported with the appropriate lab, diagnostic test, or formal diagnosis NO LATER THAN 365 days AFTER DISCHARGE to qualify as valid medical evidence.
One of the most common and most costly situations veterans find themselves in is the realization that their medical file does NOT contain the necessary documentation needed to support all of their valid disability claims.
Many factors can contribute to this problem:
1. The veteran may have been deployed and the medic simply treated an injury and failed to document the treatment in the medical records.
2. Medical records may have been lost during a PCS/move between duty stations (very common before the shift to electronic medical records).
3. Military medical providers ARE NOT worried about properly documenting your medical encounter to support a future disability claim. Many providers simply treat your symptoms and record minimal documentation in your medical record.
4. The vast majority of medical providers are not experts in pathophysiology and very few consider possible medical conditions that their patients are NOT currently complaining of.
5. The most common factor is the veteran’s failure to seek medical treatment due to concerns surrounding the negative impact they will have for seeking treatment. There may be concerns about being unable to deploy and getting passed over for advancement (i.e. active duty soldier postpones shoulder surgery because he knows he won’t be able to deploy with his unit during the 9 month recovery) or concerns about the loss of flight status or loss of security clearance if PTSD is reported, etc. Others fail to report Military Sexual Trauma (MST) due to concerns about retaliation or embarrassment/ridicule.
You certainly DESERVE to be compensated for any legitimate disability that’s attributable to your active duty service; UNFORTUNATELY you are only legally ENTITLED to compensation for disabilities that are appropriately documented.
Many veterans who are discharging from active duty file for the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program and simply hope for the best. Unfortunately, many BDD applicants receive a disappointing VA Rating Decision Letter that highlights the reality that the veteran lacks the necessary evidence to show the disability was linked to active duty service. In a number of cases we’ve seen, the veteran receives their VA Rating Decision Letter with a number of denied claims AFTER the 365 days post-discharge period has expired… which prevents the veteran from being able to get the disability properly linked and receive service connection and compensation.
The key for veterans who are still within the 365-day-from-discharge window is to have your medical files thoroughly reviewed by a competent medical professional who has a strong understanding of biomechanics, pathophysiology and pharmacology. We review ALL of the medical evidence in your file and cross-check that with your medical history and review of symptoms intake questionnaires we have you complete. This analysis allows us to confirm that all of the required medical documentation is in your file AND, send you to the appropriate appointments to establish valid evidence supporting your existing and future claims.
What is the difference between a veteran going the BDD route on their own vs. having us guide them through the process? Using as an example a veteran retiring with 20+ yrs of service: over the past 7 years, we have NEVER had a single retiring veteran fail to hit a 50% or higher VA Svc. Con. Disability rating when we reviewed their medical records while they were within their +/-365 window, with most Army & USMC retirees coming in at 90 to 100% rating. With our help, those veterans file an average of 25 – 35 VALID claims that are fully supported by medical evidence while in the +/- 365 window vs. an average of 5-15, (with many lacking supporting evidence) when they use a VSO.
The more disappointing news is that we often run into retired veterans who have a rating of 0% to 40% who are NOT receiving both their full retirement and VA disability pay due to CRDP rules. While we’ve NEVER failed to get a retiring BDD veteran over the 50% threshold necessary to receive full retirement and VA disability pay while they are within the +/-365 window, it’s also not uncommon for us to find veterans who DESERVE to be over 50%, but because they have insufficient documentation of legitimate disabilities in their record and they are outside the +/-365 window, there’s sometimes nothing we can do to remedy the situation.
One year prior to your retirement or discharge is the ideal time for us to start working with you to help ensure you have the proper documentation you’re going to need to win ALL your VA disability claims. As you get closer to your discharge date and after the discharge date, the URGENCY increases dramatically since you must have everything documented in your medical charts no later than 365 days after your discharge from active duty.