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Mods, I performed a search, but did not see any topics covering the above process, and I wanted to give my $.02 on how my claim process worked.

1. I separated from AD in late 2014, and had attended TAP classes in September of that year. When asked by the briefer if any of us planned on filing a disability compensation claim, almost none of the 40 of us raised our hands. He offered to look at each of our medical records if we made an appointment with him and encouraged us to do so.

2. I ordered copies of my medical records from my base's clinic immediately after the TAP class was over for the day. In the AF, your medical records will typically take 6-8 weeks to be copied or put on a CD in PDF format. I recommend doing this as early as possible in the process, and I will explain why in paragraph 5.

3. There are many Veteran's Service Organizations (VSOs) out there, and they all have a common goal to fight for Veterans. I chose the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) because after careful research, they give back the most to Veterans, and are a powerful lobbying organization.

4. When I made my appointment with the representative who briefed at my TAP class, he went through my records and helped me fill out all of the proper forms. I remember needing my marriage certificate, birth certificates for my family, SSN cards, and finally, a bank account number as well as the routing number of your bank.

5. I filed my claim in early December before I separated at the end of the calendar month in 2014. This was incredibly important because you will either file under the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) or the QuickStart Program. If I had gotten my medical records earlier, I would have been able to have my VA rating (if anything in my records warranted it) on my discharge date. Unfortunately, I was not eligible for this program as there was not enough time to get my VA exams completed. Fortunately, my claim decision was made in April 2015, which was only four months after filing under the QuickStart Program. If you wait months or years later, then your claim could take anywhere between 1-2 years just for an initial decision to be made.

6. I had a handful of people who I really admired and respected while in the AF. One common theme every single one of them said to me was to make sure everything was documented in my medical records. I'm thankful to this day that I took their advice.

7. Some helpful websites:

http://militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/index.html

http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/bookc.asp#a

http://www.dav.org

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good post!

another point: you can go and establish a "date of claim" or something, then proceed to gather your paperwork before you actually submit everything. (you have a year from that date)

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I guess I got lucky. Used the DAV folks on base as well, but didn't file my claim until 3 months after my DOS (several reasons - didn't want to inadvertently force a DNIF, and wasn't sure of post-separation job plans) . It was filed as a fully-developed claim (this is also important). FIVE WEEKS after the fully-developed claim was submitted I went in for the exam. Three weeks after that I got my rating and my first payment, including back pay back to my DOS.

EIGHT WEEKS from filing to seeing $$. Southern AZ (Tucson) VA rocks, btw. I've heard anecdotal stories of multi-year waits in other locales, and so the VA you choose to do the filing at is VERY important. If you don't mind a trip or two to Tucson, I'd highly recommend filing your claim there.

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What kinda money are we talking about here? Just curious...

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What kinda money are we talking about here? Just curious...

Look up the first link in section seven above, and you'll see that each scenario is different for every Veteran. Just because you might have two disabilities that add up to 100% (50% and 50%) you will not have a 100% rating. This is where you will look at the combined rating tables. Basically, you'll file the claim, have exams with the VA, get a rating, argue the rating (through your VSO), and then get a final rating. As I understand it, you will not pay taxes on the compensation you receive for the rest of your life as it does not count as income. Not a bad deal for a lot of paperwork, some exams, and some wait time.

Edit to add this...the DAV provides lawyers who will fight your claim for you if needed, and it is provided at no cost to the Veteran. Get it done early on and don't wait too long after your discharge.

Edited by Fud

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Is there something with having a disability rating and flying for the airlines? I heard some rumor/talk about some guys who got in trouble for claiming disability and working for Southwest. Maybe because they just didn't disclose it?

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Is there something with having a disability rating and flying for the airlines? I heard some rumor/talk about some guys who got in trouble for claiming disability and working for Southwest. Maybe because they just didn't disclose it?

Not sure on this question as I'm not a pilot for any of the airlines.

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I didn't make a VA claim when I separated, but I know several guys who did and are current airline guys (including one at SWA). It will end up getting documented on your Class 1 physical, and the AME will need to clear you to fly. Sleep apnea and PTSD are the two that I have heard may keep you from flying. The guys I know told me their disability was for joint/muscle/bone problems.

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Great info thanks HercDude

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I have documented disabilities with the VA and it didn't affect my Class 1 or my airline hire.

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I have documented disabilities with the VA and it didn't affect my Class 1 or my airline hire.

Tank-

Check your PMs

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Very important thread topic, thanks for starting it. I just finished my disability claims process and it seems my experience was pretty similar:

- As part of the retirement/separation process, you should go to the medical records section on base and request an electronic copy of your records. If memory serves it takes about 4-6 weeks, so start early.

- My VA disability claim was generated by an AMVETS counselor. It literally took 2 months to get an appointment, so once again, start early

- Your records will be delivered on a disc. If you've never seen an electronic version of your medical records, it is astounding. Everything is typed, indexed, organized...truly top notch.

- The AMVETS counselor did everything for me. I just had to bring basic records (bank routing info, proof of marriage/children). The appointment took less than an hour.

- We kind of went around in circles regarding who does the separation physical (flight medicine or the VA--the process keeps changing). Ultimately the VA did the physical via one of their local contractors.

- The VA E-Benefits website is very good for tracking what's going on with your claim. I actually called one day and a counselor told me it would take about 7 months to process my claim, but ultimately it only took 4 months.

- If you read up on VA disability and concurrent receipt (receiving 100% of your military retirement while drawing your full VA benefit), you realize it is a very, VERY good deal, provided your final disability rating is 50% or higher.

Edited by DUNBAR

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Dudes

Great topic, most dudes just don't want to whine or be sick, but this is huge.  Note to self, if you took any sort of VSP/VSI/SSBI and then qualify for a VA compensation, they are coming for you.  I've been knee deep in the regs because of a recent diagnosis, and it appears when I qualify (I'll be 100% for a while), they will deduct until I pay it back.  My math says about 10 years to pay it back, ouch.  There are ways around it, I will be writing a letter to the SAF to forgive it, but it will be a fight.

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I'm going through an MEB/IPEB and am filling out paperwork for my VA claim.  Is there any reason to select the box stating "No I do not want VA compensation in lieu of military retired pay"?  As i read it if I have less than 50% disability (not sure of that is via the AF or VA) all I am doing is reducing my taxable retired income by the amount the VA pays where as if it is over 50% I would receive both.  

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I'm going through an MEB/IPEB and am filling out paperwork for my VA claim.  Is there any reason to select the box stating "No I do not want VA compensation in lieu of military retired pay"?  As i read it if I have less than 50% disability (not sure of that is via the AF or VA) all I am doing is reducing my taxable retired income by the amount the VA pays where as if it is over 50% I would receive both.  

Robo, The two processes are similar, yet very different from what I've been told.  I would not check any box without consulting with an attorney.  From what I remember, there are lawyers that are paid by the VA (not you) to get you through the MEB process.  It may have changed, but I'm not sure.  Good luck.  

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Incentives and Swelling Disability Rolls

Disability rolls have swelled steeply over the past decade. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the number of veterans receiving disability payments rose by almost 55 percent from 2000 to 2013, despite a 17 percent decline in the total population of living veterans. Federal spending on the VA’s disability program has nearly tripled over that same period.[5] Media reporting has raised serious questions about how much of the increase in disability cases is due to worse health among veterans versus more lenient agency decision making.[6] A 2014 paper in Psychological Injury and Law identified “collusive lying” between disability-benefits applicants and VA staff as one possible problem.[7]

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/11/triple-dipping-thousands-of-veterans-receive-more-than-100000-in-benefits-every-year

Thoughts?

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Incentives and Swelling Disability Rolls

Disability rolls have swelled steeply over the past decade. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the number of veterans receiving disability payments rose by almost 55 percent from 2000 to 2013, despite a 17 percent decline in the total population of living veterans

Thoughts?

Perhaps there's a correlation with being continuously at war since 2003, and not being at war before that.

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Perhaps there's a correlation with being continuously at war since 2003, and not being at war before that.

Agreed, but you missed this part:

Media reporting has raised serious questions about how much of the increase in disability cases is due to worse health among veterans versus more lenient agency decision making.[6] A 2014 paper in Psychological Injury and Law identified “collusive lying” between disability-benefits applicants and VA staff as one possible problem.[7]

I have overheard several officers and enlisted openly discussing how the VA has instructed them on how to increase their disability rating to get more money for their "disabilities".

That these individuals would freely discuss defrauding the US Government and the American people to me indicates the practice is widespread and is part of a larger cultural problem and increasingly entitled mindset.

Although 10+ years of flying fighters has left its scars, I would find it terribly difficult to carry a VA disability rating as a functional man who is capable of providing for my family, regardless of the difficulty or pain I face in doing so.

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I didn't miss it. I dismissed it as speculative. The va disability system is designed to account for partial disabilities. It should be no surprise that 12 years of violent conflict for hundreds of thousands of individuals has led to an increase in partial disabilities. I'm avgually surprised the number isn higher.

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I didn't miss it. I dismissed it as speculative. The va disability system is designed to account for partial disabilities. It should be no surprise that 12 years of violent conflict for hundreds of thousands of individuals has led to an increase in partial disabilities. I'm avgually surprised the number isn higher.

You dismissed an article published in a peer reviewed professional journal written by a psychologist experienced in dealing with VA claims as speculative? That's convenient.

Do you find it difficult to imagine that along with the thousands of actually disabled service members deserving of VA benefits, there are also a large number claiming disability fraudulently? Or that it has become increasingly easy to receive a VA disability rating as a result of political pressure and a lowering of the definition of "disability"?

Here's the full-text article if anyone is interested: http://www.veteranslawlibrary.com/files/Veterans_Symptom_Validity_Russo.pdf

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Although 10+ years of flying fighters has left its scars, I would find it terribly difficult to carry a VA disability rating as a functional man who is capable of providing for my family, regardless of the difficulty or pain I face in doing so.

Why would you find it difficult?  If you have neck or back issues as a result of flying fighters, you have a "service connected disability".  Flying fighters was the answer to a life long dream and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  But it definitely left some physical chaos in it's wake for me and many others.  I'm not advocating lying about it or making it out to be worse than it is, but the system is there for a reason.  Even if you only get a 10% rating because your neck is jacked up and your hearing sucks now, that's a huge benefit when you go for a VA home loan (funding fee waived) and it's a completely legitimate claim.

 

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The VASRD needs to be drastically reformed. As long as Sleep Apnea needing a CPAP gets 50 and other extreme ratings, there is too much incentive for the status quo.

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Why would you find it difficult?

 

Because neck, back, and hearing issues does not make one disabled, even though good 'ol progressive Uncle Sam might say so. One only becomes "disabled" once they accept the label. And if I refuse the label, yet accept the payment, what does that make me?

Every dollar that goes toward mandatory VA entitlements is likely to be taken away from military O&M budgets, further straining the force. This is a zero sum game.

PerCapitaInflationAdjustedDefenseSpendin

"PerCapitaInflationAdjustedDefenseSpending" by Johnpseudo - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PerCapitaInflationAdjustedDefenseSpending.PNG#/media/File:PerCapitaInflationAdjustedDefenseSpending.PNG

See that swell in the VA budget? There are a lot of folks in there in the sleep apnea / PTSD check of the month club.

Want to do something great for your country? Resist the urge to reach in Uncle Sam's pocket, even when he practically begs you to.

Edited by Flaco
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The VASRD needs to be drastically reformed. As long as Sleep Apnea needing a CPAP gets 50 and other extreme ratings, there is too much incentive for the status quo.

Agreed, reform is definitely needed.  The sleep apnea 50% thing is pretty ridiculous.  

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