Having your VA benefits approved on appeal is a joyous occasion and well worth a celebration. However, there are some crucial steps you should take to safeguard your claim and protect your right to ongoing benefits after winning your appeal.
Unfortunately, winning your appeal doesn’t mean you’ll receive benefits right away. The BVA or CAVC only rule on cases; they don’t issue checks. You’ll need to wait for the Regional Office to assign a rating and effective date, then determine what your benefits will be. After this, you’ll receive your past-due benefits in 10 to 15 days.
It’s not entirely out of the question for there to be a wait of several months between a decision to grant service connection and when the Regional Office assigns a rating and effective date. It’s understandable to be anxious to receive that lump sum of past-due benefits—especially if you’ve exhausted your savings and your spouse isn’t working. However, it would be ill-advised to go on a spending spree until the money is in your bank account.
Sign Up for Direct Deposit and Medical Care
The VA is notorious for losing paperwork or sending documents to the wrong address, so it’s not a good idea to plan for receiving your benefits via paper check. You can sign up for direct deposit by completing the form included in your award packet or by calling the VA at 800-827-1000 and following the prompts.
If you’ve been awarded service-connection for your disability, you are entitled to some degree of medical care. Even if you plan to continue seeing a private doctor, signing up for VA medical care gives you additional options if your condition worsens. Signing up for care when you first receive benefits will give you one less thing to worry about down the road.
Explore Additional Veterans Benefits
Disabled Veterans often qualify for a number of benefits beyond cash disability payments. For example, you may be entitled to help with hearing aids or support animals as well as vocational rehabilitation benefits. At the state level, you may be eligible for property tax breaks, Veteran home loan programs, college tuition assistance, reduced or discounted license plate fees, and other money-saving perks. Your spouse or children may also be eligible for certain types of benefits.
Consult a Financial Planner
If you’re due a sizable sum in past-due benefits, it would be a wise move to consult a financial planner. Professional financial advice can help you figure out how to balance debt repayment with saving for the future and planning for the out-of-pocket costs related to your disability.
Advice from a financial planner is bound to be more objective than suggestions from friends and family. In fact, it’s generally not a good idea to share that you’re expecting a large lump sum payment. Money is a common source of conflict in families, and you don’t want to find yourself in the position of being asked to provide loans or gifts for questionable purchases.
Consider Filing for a Claims Increase
Are you ready for your legal journey with the VA to be over? While it’s tempting to accept the first amount you’re offered, this might not be in your best interest.
Because the appeals process can take so long, your condition may have worsened while you were waiting for your benefits to be approved. When this happens, you may be entitled to a higher rating or increase in benefits.
If you are no longer able to work due to your condition, you may qualify for TDIU. Veterans eligible for TDIU can receive benefits at the same level as someone who is considered 100% disabled if they can demonstrate that their condition prevents them from maintaining substantially gainful employment.
At the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, we’ve been helping Veterans access the VA disability benefits they earned in service of their country for over 20 years. Fill out the contact form on this page or call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.