Our Services
FAQ Recent News About VLG Contact Us VSO/VSR Resources

8070 La Jolla Shores Dr. #437 La Jolla, CA. 92037

Pulmonary Disorder Claims

The list of severe pulmonary disorders is long. It includes: chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis, asbestosis and so forth.

The disability level or rating of these pulmonary disorders is often measured by the FEV1/FVC ratio, also called Tiffeneau index, is a calculated ratio used in the diagnosis of obstructive and restrictive lung disease. It represents the volume of air exhaled in the first second. Another test called diffusion capacity of the lung is a measure of how well oxygen and carbon dioxide are transferred (diffused) between the lungs and the blood.

If you are a veteran of the US Armed Forces and you have suffered from a pulmonary disorder or damage to your lungs from your service in the military, contact an attorney at the Veterans Law Group at 888-811-0523.

Accrued Benefits Claims

An accrued benefit is not considered a death benefit, but a benefit owed to the veteran for a period prior to his death. Generally, accrued benefits are payable to the surviving spouse, and, if there is none, then to the surviving children in equal shares. See 38 U.S.C. § 5121. Like in the case of death benefits, survivors become the claimants in these VA proceedings.

A survivor of a deceased veteran is entitled to accrued benefits only if the entitlement derives from an existing rating or other VA decision or from a pending claim filed by the deceased veteran.

One important requirement of an accrued benefits claim is that it must be filed within one year of the death of the veteran.

Another important limitation of accrued benefits claims are that they are decided only on the evidence existing at the time of the veteran’s death. A claimant may not submit additional evidence, such as private medical reports, to establishment entitlement to benefits. The only post-death evidence which can be considered is the death certificate.

Gulf War Syndrome

Many Gulf War veterans suffer from illnesses which the medically community does not clearly understand. Physicians sometimes refer to these poorly-known illnesses as undiagnosed illness, chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic multi-symptom illness. The causes of Gulf War syndrome are not well-known, but there is speculation that toxic exposure or medical vaccinations may be a cause.

At any rate, to qualify for VA benefits, a Gulf War veteran must have an undiagnosed illness, a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness or one of the diagnosed illnesses listed in the regulations. Also, the illness must manifest a disability to a degree of ten (10) percent or more. See 38 U.S.C. § 1117.

Personality Disorders

The so-called personality disorder diagnosis is the darling of the VA. A personality disorder is not a recognized disability in the VA system. The military physicians know that, and thus they frequently diagnose mental problems arising during service as personality disorders. For example, when a soldier’s behavior becomes erratic or abnormal (often early signs of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder), military physicians typically give a perfunctory diagnosis of personality disorder in the separation examination. It is important that the claimant’s representative does not accept this diagnosis at face value. Rather, a private psychiatric evaluation is usually needed to determine whether the veteran’s alleged personality disorder was, in fact, the first symptoms of a true psychiatric disability during service.

In-Service Sexual & Physical Assaults

PTSD claims based upon in-service assaults, especially sexual assaults, present unique problems of corroboration. Because of the sensitive nature of sexual assaults, many victims do not report them. As such, there will rarely be documentation or other written memorial of the assault. Because of this problem, the VA has relaxed the evidentiary requirements for corroborating this type of in-service stressor:

If a post-traumatic stress disorder claim is based on in-service personal assault, evidence from sources other than the veteran’s service records may corroborate the veteran’s account of the stressor incident. Examples of such evidence include, but are not limited to: records from law enforce authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals, or physicians; pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases; and statements from family members, roommates, fellow service members, or clergy. Evidence of behavior changes following the claimed assault is one type of relevant evidence that may be found in these sources. § 3.304(f)(3) (emphasis added).

AGENT ORANGE EXPOSURE

What is Agent Orange?

“Agent Orange” refers to a mix of tactical herbicides the U.S. military sprayed in the jungles of Vietnam and around the Korean demilitarized zone to remove trees and dense tropical foliage that provided enemy cover. Herbicides were also used by the U.S. military to defoliate military facilities in the U.S. and in other countries as far back as the 1950s.

When is Agent Orange exposure presumed?

VA presumes that Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides if they served:

What does presumed exposure to Agent Orange mean?

The “presumptive policy” makes it easier for veterans to prove their disability claims. Specifically, if exposure to Agent Orange is presumed, the veteran does not need to submit evidence of actual exposure to Agent Orange.

How do you prove actual exposure when exposure to Agent Orange is not presumed?

Even if you do not serve in Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone during the specified time periods, you can still apply for disability compensation if you were exposed to an herbicide while in the military and believe it led to the onset of a disease. This includes:

  1. Veterans who served on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand during the Vietnam Era.
  2. Veterans who served where herbicides were tested and stored outside of Vietnam.
  3. Veterans who were crewmembers on C-123 planes flown after the Vietnam War.
  4. Veterans associated with Department of Defense (DoD) projects to test, dispose of, or store herbicides in the U.S.

Which diseases are presumed to have been caused by Agent Orange Exposure?

The VA presumes the following diseases are caused by exposure to Agent Orange:

Assuming Agent Orange exposure, what evidence is needed to prove your disability claim?

If you are seeking service connection for one of the diseases VA presumes is associated with exposure to herbicides during service, VA requires the following:

  1. A medical diagnosis of a disease which VA recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange (listed above)
  2. Competent evidence of
  3. service in Vietnam or at or near the Korean demilitarized zone during the dates shown above, or
  4. exposure to herbicides in a location other than the Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone.
  5. Competent medical evidence that the disease began within the deadline (if any). (See 38 CFR 3.307(a)(6)(ii) for more information on deadlines.)

If you believe that you have a disease caused by herbicide exposure, but that disease is not on the list of diseases associated with Agent Orange, you may still apply for service-connection. In these cases, VA requires all of the following:

  1. Competent medical evidence of a current disability,
  2. Competent medical evidence of an actual connection between herbicide exposure and the current disability, AND
  3. Competent evidence of:
  4. service in Vietnam or at or near the Korean demilitarized zone during the dates shown above, or
  5. exposure to herbicides in a location other than Vietnam or the Korean demilitarized zone.

Heart Disease

There are many severe heart diseases contemplated by the VA disability system, including: valvular heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, endocarditis, pericarditis, arteriosclerosis, hypertensive heart disease, cor pulmonale, myocardial infarction and so forth. Normally, these conditions are not caused by any service-related incident. Rather, a claim for service-related heart disease is normally proven by showing that the first the symptoms of the heart disease manifested or appeared during a claimant’s period of service.

Ischemic heart disease is also known as coronary artery disease or “hardening of the arteries.” Cholesterol plaque can build up in the arteries of the heart and cause “ischemia,” which means the heart is not getting enough blood flow and oxygen. If the plaque blocks an artery, a heart attack can result.

Veterans who develop ischemic heart disease and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and military service to be eligible to receive VA

Congenital Heart Disease is a familial or genetically caused heart disease. Just because a veteran is genetically predisposed or susceptible to a disease (coronary blockage or cardiac arrest) does not mean the condition is not service-related.

For Veteran’s Administration purposes, a disability or disease can still be considered service-connected if it manifested (became symptomatic) during the veteran’s period of service. This alternate method of proving service-connection– the so-called theory of temporal service-connection — is based upon a temporal relationship or coincidence between the veteran’s period of service and his current disability. Under this theory, a condition, illness or disorder becomes a “disability” within the meaning of VA law when it first manifests symptoms. Thus, if a condition first becomes symptomatic during service, his condition will be considered service-related or service-connected.

If you believe you are suffering from heart disease as a result of your service in the U.S. Military, contact the office of the Veterans Law Group today at 888-811-0523.

Neurological Disabilities

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI refers to any significant trauma to the head. In VA cases, TBI is normally associated with trauma caused by a nearby blast or explosion. Symptoms of TBI can vary, including changes in a person’s ability to think, difficulty with controlling emotions, walking, or speaking, and also impairment of a claimant’s sense of sight or hearing.

Mild TBI often involves short-term change or loss in consciousness. Severe TBI refers to longer periods of both. It is important to keep in mind that, while TBI affects a person’s physical functioning, it also can his or her emotional well being. Insomnia, depression and anxiety are common secondary symptoms of TBI.) .

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are one of the most underrated VA disabilities. The schedule only allows for a fifty (50) percent disability rating for the severest condition: “With frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability.” In cases of severe migraines, the best approach is to seek a total disability rating based upon individual unemployability (TDIU).

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

We all know that MS is a very debilitating disease. For VA disability claims, the key question is when did the MS symptoms first manifest. If they can be shown to have manifested during service or within seven (7) years of discharge, then the condition is considered to be service-related. Therefore, early signs of MS are what to look for in proving a MS claim. Multiple sclerosis symptoms generally appear between the ages of 20 and 40. The most common early symptoms of MS include: tingling, numbness, loss of balance, weakness in one or more limbs, blurred or double vision.).

If you are a veteran of the US military and are suffering from a neurological disorder such as TBI, migraine headaches, or multiple sclerosis, contact the Veterans Law Group at 888-811-0523 to discuss your potential claim with one of our attorneys.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI refers to any significant trauma to the head. In VA cases, TBI is normally associated with trauma caused by a nearby blast or explosion. Symptoms of TBI can vary, including changes in a person’s ability to think, difficulty with controlling emotions, walking, or speaking, and also impairment of a claimant’s sense of sight or hearing.

Mild TBI often involves short-term change or loss in consciousness. Severe TBI refers to longer periods of both. It is important to keep in mind that, while TBI affects a person’s physical functioning, it also can his or her emotional well being. Insomnia, depression and anxiety are common secondary symptoms of TBI.) .

Spinal Disability – Severe Back Injury

Back Injuries

Back disabilities ratings are commonly based upon the length of incapacitating episodes. For example, a sixty (60) percent disability rating is warranted if the claimant suffers from incapacitating episodes having a total duration of at least 6 weeks during the past 12 months. An incapacitating episode is “a period of acute signs and symptoms due to intervertebral disc syndrome that requires bed rest prescribed by a physician and treatment by a physician.

If you are a veteran of the US Armed Forces and you have suffered a back injury or damage to your spine from your service in the military, contact an attorney at the Veterans Law Group at 888-811-0523.