VA To Be Mostly Immune From Federal Hiring Freeze
President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats reached a compromise that may affect disability benefits for thousands of veterans, as the Department of Veterans Affairs clarified that the administration-imposed federal hiring freeze would not affect public safety positions.
Acting Secretary Robert Snyder said this phrase is broadly defined to include nurses, doctors, counselors, and most other healthcare jobs. In the past, VA Secretary-designate David Shulkin has echoed this sentiment, calling on the agency to hire more doctors and nurses. Although the VA is still reeling from a 2014 patient wait time scandal, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer initially said that the announced freeze would affect all agencies equally. The disability benefits system is “broken,” he insisted, and “hiring more people isn’t the answer” to helping veterans “get the services that they’ve earned.”
In addition to public safety jobs, the announced waiver also includes national security positions.
Available Disability Benefits for Veterans
In addition to Social Security Disability and related benefits, many veterans are entitled to either disability services benefits or a VA pension. To be eligible for disability benefits, the victim must:
- Be a veteran with an honorable or general discharge,
- Suffer from a current medical condition that significantly inhibits everyday functions,
- Have a diagnosis of an injury or illness during the period of active duty, and
- Show a connection between the current disability and the prior injury or illness.
Preexisting conditions exacerbated by a service-related injury or illness are usually fully covered.
Medical evidence is a key to a successful claim. Inmost cases, the victim’s file must contain both a diagnosis from a doctor during the period of service and an evidence-based conclusion from a subsequent doctor about the nexus between the diagnosis and the disability.
If the victim passes the eligibility phase, a VA regional office reviews the medical evidence and assigns a percentage of disability between 10 and 100 percent. The monetary scale changes frequently, but generally ranges from about $125 per month for a 10 percent disability to $2,700 per month for a 100 percent disability. Victims who are more than 30 percent disabled are also entitled to dependent benefits. Victims are normally reassessed six months after they complete any assigned rehabilitative therapy and every five years thereafter.
What an Attorney Can Do
In an era of limited funds and limited services, VA hearing officers are anxious to deny claims, either in whole or in part, so it is important to not let an initial denial be overly discouraging, because nearly everyone is in the same boat. At the appeal, an attorney can fully advocate for the victim, dramatically increasing the chances of fair disability benefits. In many cases, these benefits are retroactive to the filing date.
Veterans disability benefits are available, but the VA does not simply give them away. For a free consultation with an experienced disability lawyer in Mumfordville, contact Attorney Gary S. Logsdon. We do not charge upfront legal fees in disability cases.