New VA Forms Are a Departure from Times Past

New VA Forms Are a Departure from Times Past

Two recent changes to the veterans’ disability benefits claims process have sparked a significant amount of controversy and criticism. Veterans’ advocacy groups and other veterans-oriented entities claim that the VA’s new “intent to file” form imposes a burden on veterans seeking disability benefits. Veterans’ advocates are also criticizing new rules that allow VA claims processors to focus exclusively on a veteran’s injury or injuries that are identified in that veteran’s claims paperwork and not consider additional injuries or disabilities that may be discovered during the claims process.

The New “Intent to File” Form

In times past, a veteran seeking disability benefits only needed to reach out to his or her local VA office and make this desire known. Any form of documentation, such as a handwritten letter or note, would be sufficient to start the benefits claims process. Doing so would also lock in an “effective date” for purposes of future payout of benefits. For instance, a veteran who contacted the VA by note on July 1, 2014 and whose claim was later approved by the VA, would have benefits that would begin as of July 1, 2014.

Now, however, a veteran needs to complete an “intent to file” form in order to begin the benefits claims process and lock in an effective date. Although the VA claims that the form is simple and can be completed online or over the phone, advocates say this move presupposes that veterans are familiar with the new form and know how to complete it. Otherwise, veterans who do not know of this change may send a handwritten note and wait weeks or longer before learning that they needed to complete a form to begin the process.  In the meantime, they have lost out on weeks or months of benefits.

The Focus on Documented Injuries

Veterans must also be careful to list all their service-related disabilities and injuries; those that are omitted can be ignored, if the new VA rules are followed. For veterans with mental injuries or memory trouble, this can lead to a denial of benefits for what would otherwise be a valid service-related injury claim. For instance, suppose a veteran suffered an injury while serving that made it difficult for her to remember certain events and details. At the same time, she also suffered a serious injury to her back. When she files her claim for benefits, new VA rules would allow the VA to ignore anything related to her back injury if she failed to list this injury on her paperwork – even if her failure to do so was connected to her memory difficulties.

You Need an Advocate in Your Corner

These new rules suggest that the VA is moving away from being a veterans-centered organization. That is why when you are injured while serving, you need a knowledgeable and experienced veterans disability lawyer on your side. At Klok Law Firm LLC, we have years of experience in helping veterans get the benefits they deserve. We stay abreast of changes in the process so we can provide you with the best and most current advice. Contact us today at (843) 216-8860 for a free consultation about your situation.