It is not uncommon to hear people ask the question: “Why should I have representation in handling my VA claim?”
The answer boils down to a simple premise: because the claim process can be extremely maddening.
The VA disability claims process is intended to be non-adversarial. For the most part it is. Some people can file claims and get approved without any trouble. Others may think they have the most obvious case imaginable, but they get denied. What truly makes things go smoothly is giving the VA what they want, and to do that properly, you need someone who is experienced at handling VA claims.
Have you ever worked on a puzzle and got to a point where you were stuck? You may have walked away for a period of time and then come back to it. The break allowed you to come back with a fresh set of eyes. Suddenly the repetitive pattern that you were staring at is not so repetitive. That is what it is like to have representation. They are fresh set of eyes to see things from a completely different point of view. A representative can be a VA Accredited Claims Agent, an Attorney or a Veterans Service Officer. Here are the four top reasons to appoint a representative for your claims:
1. Your representative did not serve in your shoes.
They did not experience what you did. They did not have to live with the nightmares or the pain or the rash or the prosthetic limb, or the second-guessing that you may have to live with. While you may want to bang your fist on the table repeatedly and tell the VA that you suffered a particular injury, the VA is looking for the evidence that actually supports that claim. What may seem like evidence to you, is not what the VA considers as probative evidence, and an experienced representative would know this and be able to find probative evidence to support your claim.
2. There can be times where a veteran may be trying to relate a condition to service in the wrong manner.
Instead of trying to convince the VA that it is directly related to service, it may be best to prove that it is related on a secondary basis, or due to a condition that is already service connected. For example, instead of trying to prove that your diabetes and lymphedema are related to a chemical you were exposed to in boot camp, a better approach is connecting those issues to your already service-connected back condition. Your back condition caused depression which made you elf-medicate with food, causing your uncontrolled obesity, which then caused the diabetes and lymphedema. It is this type of “outside-the-box thinking” that an experienced representative can provide you.
3. You might have enough to deal with already.
Many veterans are not working or have more than themselves to worry about, some are even homeless. While the process may take a long time, and in a majority of instance it does, you do not want to waste that time going about things the wrong way. That monthly check could make the difference between having a roof over your head or not. Having the right representative to navigate the system is the best way to ensure that you are not wasting years of running around in circles with the VA, when there was a shorter path to disability compensation all along that you did not see.
4. The process is maddening.
Veterans want to give up when they are repeatedly denied. It may be that they do not understand why everyone in their circle is approved for PTSD claims but themselves. Instead of banging that fist, ask those around you if they had someone help them. Ask your doctor if they have worked with experienced representatives before that had helped others. Search online.
The VA is full or regulations that will help you get granted, or help you get that higher rating. But you must play their game; you have to play on their turf, with their rules. Do yourself a favor and a have someone that knows how to play that game help you out.