At Trajector Medical, we understand that developing medical evidence for VA claims can be overwhelming.
See our most frequently asked questions below to help save you time. This information can also help you get the most from your free evaluation with a member of our staff.
We offer a free medical evaluation to see if we are a fit for you. If our medical evidence does not result in a VA disability benefits compensation increase, you don’t pay a penny for our services
We are a medical evidence development company that works to maximize the VA disability benefits for which you are medically, legally and ethically qualified. A VSO may not be able to provide the evidence we can. We do not assist Veterans with filing their claims; however, an accredited VSO may be able to assist with this.
Yes. Trajector Medical assists U.S. military Veterans around the world develop medical evidence supporting the VA disability benefits for which they are medically, legally and ethically qualified.
VA Disability Rating
The VA rating decision letter is the letter that outlines the VA’s decision regarding your disability claim. The VA will decide if your disabilities are service-connected and eligible for benefits. Your disabilities will also receive a VA disability benefits rating. This rating can be anywhere from 0% (not severe enough to be compensable by law) to 100% (so severe they are fully covered). These VA ratings will determine your monthly payments. This letter will also list the sum of your benefits, and when you are going to begin receiving VA disability payments.
A VA Disability Rating is a percentage of possible benefits, decided by the VA’s Rating Authorities, to a disabled Veteran. The VA Disability Rating determines the amount of VA Disability Benefits a Veteran will receive for service-related conditions. The VA Disability Rating reflects the severity and impact of the disability. For example, a 0% VA Disability Rating is given to a condition that the VA recognizes as a service-related injury but does not qualify for compensation. Disability ratings are rounded off to the nearest 10, i.e., 50%, 60%, 70%.
The Total Combined VA Disability Rating is the combination of all of the conditions afflicting a Veteran. After each condition is given a VA Disability Rating, all the ratings are calculated to give a Total Combined VA Disability Rating. This overall VA Disability Rating is then used to determine the exact amount of VA disability benefits compensation the Veteran will receive.
Even conditions rated at 0% are service-connected and eligible for VA disability compensation if the condition worsens. Veterans will not have to show that the condition was caused by service because the VA has already determined that it is and simply thinks the current symptoms do not warrant monthly compensation.
At a 0% rating, Veterans may qualify for certain ancillary benefits, such as health care, but will not receive monthly VA disability compensation.
Veterans must receive a disability rating of 10% or higher to be eligible for a monthly benefit check from the VA.
A 100% rating usually corresponds with a total disability or a condition that VA deems extremely impairing. Ratings are determined based on rating criteria, which is why it is so important to submit credible, accurate, and thorough medical evidence.
Medical Evidence & Service Connection
A compensation and pension (C&P) exam is an important part of the VA disability benefits process. A VA or VA-contracted physician will perform an evaluation of the disability for which a Veteran applied. After the exam, the results will be used by the VA to assist in determining the outcome of the disability.
The evidence Veterans submit to demonstrate the severity of their disability helps the VA determine what rating they will be assigned.
Obtaining and examining military medical records can uncover a potential lifetime of benefits.
The best way to review the records is page by page, taking note of each diagnosis and symptom – creating a timeline with the date of the occurrence, the symptoms, tests performed, diagnosis, and any medications or treatments provided.
This can be fairly complicated terrain – many Veterans find that hiring a professional team like Trajector Medical can help ensure they have the proper medical evidence to pursue the VA disability benefits for which they medically, legally and ethically qualify.
A new claim for service-connection must include evidence connecting a condition to active duty service. The focus of medical evidence is very different if a condition is not yet service-connected. The current disability level is not as important as evidence that connects the dots for the VA.
Any records from non-VA medical providers should be included with the VA disability benefits claim. These records should include clinic notes and copies of diagnostic studies or imaging reports.
Most claims should include a Lay Statement as supporting evidence.
Evidence for secondary claims should focus on the timeline and the link. If the condition did not start in service but was caused by another disability, the evidence should highlight the cause of your new condition. Veterans can describe how the new condition has developed or worsened since they have had the service-connected disability symptoms.
For presumptive claims, the evidence should focus on proving exposure and establishing a current diagnosis. Most exposure can be shown with evidence of service locations and dates. Pictures can be powerful evidence. Many Veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam conflict have struggled to prove their exposure due to poor record-keeping at the time. Many of these claims have been supported with pictures, letters, and even memorabilia.
For an increase, review the VA rating decision letter carefully. The rating is not an arbitrary number – it is clearly defined by law. All decision letters must clearly state the evidence for and against the claim.
Veterans may always refer to the 38 CFR when a new decision is provided by the VA. This is an invaluable tool for ensuring that the disability was fairly decided, and will display the appropriate level of compensation for the impairing disability.
Did the VA C&P exam inadequately document your level of disability? If the VA examiner under-reported your disability level, you should appeal the rating with evidence directly addressing the symptoms needed for the higher rating.
If this sounds like a lot of work, remember that Trajector Medical can handle the heavy lifting with our professional medical evidence development services. Get started for free here.
For any VA disability claim for service connection to be successful, three main elements must be present.
- A current disability, diagnosed by a medical professional
- An in-service event, injury, or illness; and
- A medical nexus between the current disability and the in-service event, injury, or illness.
Reviewing current disabilities provides knowledge of potential building blocks for secondary disability claims. Veterans may not even realize that the conditions they currently have slowly developed and would not exist if they did not have the original service-connected disability.
Veterans can file their VA disability benefit claim online at eBenefits.va.gov, where they will have the option to upload digital attachments of evidence to support their claims. If they are not interested in filing your new claims online, Veterans can print a 526EZ form and file by mail or contact your local VSO for help.
During the evaluation process, the VA may schedule a C&P examination. When this occurs, it is a good sign that the VA is taking the claim seriously and is following their required duty to develop the claim fully. It is important to understand the current disability so that a comprehensive record is documented by the C&P examiner and available for the VA rater to review when deciding the claim.
A statement in support of a claim for increase should focus on new symptoms. An increase statement does not need to show a Nexus since you are already service-connected for the condition. It is helpful to know what symptoms are needed for the next higher rating and be proactive about filing for an increase if your condition worsens. Many Veterans miss out on years of valuable benefits because they do not pay attention to what symptoms determine their rating.
After a Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO) decision, Veterans have 365 days in which to file their appeal. The new appeal system provides three different options to file an appeal: Supplemental Claim, Higher-Level Review, and a Board Appeal.
If you have determined that you can obtain new evidence directly refuting the reason for your denial, you should begin obtaining this evidence right away. If you plan on asking a private provider for an exam or a private medical opinion, it may take many months before you can obtain an appointment. The doctor may decline to help you, requiring you to start over and search for a new physician. To avoid this difficulty, consider hiring Trajector Medical. We are experts in developing professional medical evidence.
Veterans have one year from the date of their Rating Decision Letter to file an appeal.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 has restructured the appeals process. If you have received an unfavorable rating decision on an initial VA compensation claim, the VA’s new disability appeals process permits Veterans to choose from three different review options when filing an appeal:
- Higher-Level Review: In a Higher-Level Review, Veterans request the Regional Office (RO) issue another decision based on a higher level of review. This review is conducted by a more experienced rating specialist at the Regional Office. The higher-level reviewer has the ability to overturn a previous decision based on a number of factors including a clear and unmistakable error (CUE). Veterans are not permitted to submit additional evidence in support of their claims.
- Supplemental Claim: A Supplemental Claim is the submission of new and relevant evidence. The VA has a duty to assist Veterans in gathering evidence to support their claims. When using this appeal, Veterans will maintain the same effective dates for their claims when submitting new and relevant evidence as long as the supplemental claim is submitted within one year of their RO’s initial decision.
- Notice of Disagreement: Veterans can appeal their cases directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals following an unfavorable decision. Now Veterans are able to skip the second level of review that previously existed. They are also able to apply for three different appeals: a direct appeal, a hearing, or an evidence appeal.
Additionally, if a Veteran receives an unfavorable result, he or she can appeal using the other strategies. For example, a Veteran can file a Supplemental Claim or Notice of Disagreement after an unfavorable Higher-Level Review.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 restructured the appeals process. As of its passing:
- Supplemental Claims: VA’s goal for completing Supplemental Claim decisions is an average of 125 days.
- Higher-Level Review: VA’s goal for completing Higher-Level Reviews is an average of 125 days.
- Appeals to the Board of Veterans Appeals: VA lists varying adjudication timelines for each docket.
- Direct Docket: VA has set a goal to decide claims in this docket within 365 days.
- Evidence Docket: VA states that claims in this docket may take longer than 365 days.
- Hearing Docket: Appeals in this docket are projected to take the longest amount of time to adjudicate, with wait times that may exceed 365 days.
The VA updates its schedule of benefits each year.
At a 30 percent or higher rating, Veterans are eligible for additional benefits for dependents living in their household.
If Veterans have two separate service-connected medical conditions, be advised that the VA does not add ratings together to determine a total rating. Instead, it has its own formula to combine multiple disability ratings.
Depending on a Veteran’s combined rating and ability to sustain employment, they may be eligible for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
TDIU permits Veterans to be compensated at the 100-percent rate in cases where their service-connected disabilities impact their ability to work. However, several factors must occur to qualify for TDIU.
The effective date of the VA disability benefit is presented on the VA rating decision letter.
A Veteran generally can still work when receiving VA disability payments. However, typically, to receive TDIU, a Veteran cannot work full time or generally earn anything above the poverty line.
Veterans’ benefits are excluded from federal taxable income. The following amounts paid to Veterans or their families are not taxable:
- Money for education or training
- Subsistence allowances
- Disability compensation for disabilities paid either to Veterans or their families
- Pension payments to Veterans or their dependents
Question Not Answered Above?
Call us for a free consultation if your question is not answered here or if you need more assistance. We are happy to help.