According to a Wall Street study based on Census Bureau data, Illinois veterans make up 5.7% of the state’s population. If you were an armed forces member and you’ve been diagnosed with an injury or illness connected to your military service, you might be eligible for disability benefits.
You can receive VA benefits whether you are fully or partially disabled and if your military service worsened an existing condition.
Injury claims and applications for monthly benefits involve a complicated process of filing the required paperwork and meeting strict deadlines. Unfortunately, getting the benefits you need is difficult, and denials occur in about 75% of initial applications.
The legal team at Nessler & Associates can help you file a successful disability claim with the federal government. Contact our team of veteran advocates for a complimentary consultation and get the legal advice you need to pursue your benefits or appeal a denial.
Illinois VA Resources
Illinois is home to 49 VA health care facilities, including 5 medical centers. Many outpatient clinics are located throughout the state if you require medical care. You can receive regular care at one VA location of your choice but may be referred to another for specialized medical care.
The following VA medical centers provide surgery, critical care, physical therapy, and mental health care.
- Chicago: Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
- North Chicago: Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
- Hines: Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital
- Danville: Danville VA Medical Center
- Marion: Marion VA Medical Center
Outpatient clinics provide health and wellness visits.
VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) provide routine appointments in convenient locations.
Vet centers provide community-based counseling to vets who served in a combat zone and their families.
The Illinois VA Regional Benefit Office is located in Chicago.
About VA Disability Benefits
To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet three specific criteria.
You Must Have a Current Diagnosis
You must present evidence of your diagnosed condition through medical records. These records should include the medical diagnosis, care you received at the time, and the type of care after discharge you require, including contract nursing home care.
You Need Your Service Records or Separation Documents
To prove a military service-connected disability, you must provide your service records. These records document your combat injury or show how you could have been exposed to a hazard that causes medical injuries. Your separation from the military must have been under conditions other than dishonorable.
Your Injury or Illness Must Affect Your Everyday Life
The VA gives payments for partial disabilities if your military service caused them. These injuries may include chronic pain, hearing loss, anxiety, cancer, and loss of range of motion. The VA determines payment amounts by the percent disability your injury or illness causes.
Common complaints from veterans include long wait times for claims processing, outdated definitions of disability, and an overly complicated application process.
Contact the disability lawyers with Nessler & Associates to get assistance with your application or appeal.
VA Disability Compensation Levels
The VA uses a Schedule for Rating Disabilities to determine disability ratings based on your medical condition and the impact of your symptoms on your general health and ability to function. If you have multiple disabilities, you will receive a combined disability rating.
You receive a rating from 0 to 100% in 10% increments. A 0% rating means no compensation, and 100% is the highest monthly benefit. The benefits are tax-free.
The monthly 2022 VA benefits for veterans with a 10% disability rating ranges from $152.64 to $3,332.06 without dependents. Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or higher receive additional compensation for dependents which can include your spouse, children or dependent parents. Dependent children between 18 and 23 must be attending school and be recorded as a dependent on your tax return.
To learn more about the federal and state benefits you are eligible to receive, contact the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Why Was My Claim for VA Benefits in Illinois Denied?
It can be frustrating to learn that your claim for VA benefits was denied. Some common reasons for denial of VA compensation include:
Missing the Submission Deadline
While there is no deadline to apply for benefits, you are only eligible to apply for benefits to cover current disabilities. Waiting for the injury to heal may make you ineligible for compensation.
Failed to Provide a Medical Diagnosis of the Disability
If you don’t submit sufficient proof about your disability in your claim, it will likely be denied. The VA has strict guidelines about the conditions that qualify as disabilities and the level of compensation each veteran can receive.
Your doctor’s recommendation needs to be concise and indicate that the condition is service-related.
You also need a specific diagnosis, such as a mental health impairment like PTSD or physical injuries like spinal stenosis or tinnitus.
Your Disability Rating Doesn’t Qualify You for Benefits
If you receive a rating of less than 10%, you will be ineligible for compensation. Our disability injury lawyers can help you appeal a VA disability rating by investigating your circumstances and increasing your rating.
You Missed Your C&P Exam
A C&P exam determines the extent of your current disability and whether it is service-related, qualifying you for VA benefits. Your application is automatically denied if you miss this appointment.
Your Condition is Not Considered Service-Related
The VA may determine that your condition is independent of your military service, was pre-existing, or was not worsened by your time in the armed forces.
Is a Denial Letter the End of the Road?
If the VA believes you have not met their criteria for benefits, you will be issued a denial letter outlining the reasons for the denial. This letter provides crucial information for building your appeal strategy. You can submit an appeal, but you only have one year from the denial date.
How a Nessler & Associates Disability Lawyer in Illinois Can Help
Navigating the VA disability application, and appeals process can be overwhelming for veterans with disabilities. Mistakes such as missing deadlines or providing inadequate proof of your diagnosis can cost you thousands in missed compensation. Our law firm can help you take the following steps:
Option #1: File a Notice of Disagreement (NOD)
You have one year from the date of your denial to send the VA Regional Office that denied your benefits a NOD form.
The NOD is only a notification, so keep it general by stating you disagree with and are appealing their decision to deny you benefits.
Once you file your appeal, you will have to choose whether you want a decision review officer (DRO) appeal or you want to appeal directly to the Board of Veterans (BVA).
Typically a DRO is quicker than a BVA appeal, and if the DRO still doesn’t authorize your VA benefits, you can take your claim to the BVA.
Option #2: File a VA Higher Level Review (HLR) Request
Instead of filing a NOD, you can file an HLR request and have a senior rating officer review your initial file. This option is a second look at your claim and is designed to overturn the decision if you don’t have new evidence.
However, if the senior reviewer uncovers a duty to assist error, they will ask you to submit new evidence.
Option #3: File a Supplemental Claim
If you want to submit more supporting evidence, you can file a Supplemental Claim with the new evidence within one year of your VA denial. If approved, your benefits go into effect based on your initial claim submission.
If you want help with your initial VA claim, filing an appeal, or going to a hearing, we can help and provide you with peace of mind. Call our law firm at (800) 727-8010 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, and learn how we can help you with your specific circumstances and ensure the best possible outcome.