Filing a Claim for Disability or Pension

Filing a claim

In order to file a claim for benefits call our office and make an appointment. When making an appointment, be prepared to provide the last two numbers of your Social Security number as this will assist us in booking an appointment for you with the corresponding State Service Officer. If you live on the West side of the greater Denver-metro area and would like to been seen in our Lakewood location please call that office for an appointment.

 

Compensation vs Pension

One of the biggest misunderstanding in veterans benefits is the difference between compensation for a service-connected disability and war-time veterans pension. Most veterans who say they are receiving a VA pension are actually in receipt of service-related compensation. Every veteran and situation is unique so discuss your individual case with a veterans service officer.

 

  • Compensation is awarded to a veteran based in an injury or illness related to military service and the amount is based on the severity of the illness or injury. Many veterans with honorable, general under honorable condition and medical retirement has a similar baseline of benefits. However, due to ongoing changes in regulations, veterans may have vastly different benefits depending on when, where and how long they served.
  • Pension is a benefit for war-time veterans who have extremely limited incomes (the benefit may be avaiallb3e for certain family members as well – talk to your service officer), are unable to work or who are 64 or older.

 

How do I make an appointment?

Call the main office located at:

1355 South Colorado Blvd.,

Building C, Suite 113

Denver, CO 80222

at 303-284-6077

Monday-Thursday 0700AM-4:00PM and Friday 0700AM-1:00PM

or

our office located in the VA Regional Office at:

155 Van Godron

Room 210 (first floor)

Lakewood, CO 80228

at 303-914-5832

Monday-Thursday 0700AM-4:00PM and Friday 0700AM-1:00PM

 

 

or contact your local County Veterans Service Officer/Office.

Click here for a list of the County offices.

 

What do I need to bring to an appointment?

In general at a minimum:

  • Discharge/DD214 Member Copy 4
  • Marriage and divorce certificates/decrees (if applicable) and spouse social security number
  • Copies of private medical evidence/records (non VA Medical Center records) we cannot copy for you
  • Direct deposit information
  • Children’s birth certificates (if applicable) and social security number(s)
  • For adopted children, a copy of the adoption decree
  • Death certificate (if applicable)
  • If claiming pension and/or Aid and Attendance, we need any financial award documents, bank statements, etc. Call before hand for specific information needed.

When you make your appointment we can let you know specifically what you need to bring.

 

When can I expect a return call/email? On regular business days you can expect a return phone call or email with 24 hours. Please do not call/email repeatedly in that 24 hour period as it slows down the process.

 

Do we take walk-ins? Unfortunately due to our high volume of clients, we are currently unable to take walk-ins. Call 303-284-6077 to make an appointment at the Colorado Blvd location or call 303-914-5832 for the Lakewood location.

 

How do I make a claim for benefits? Make an appointment with one of our Nationally trained Veterans Service Officers who will walk you through all the paperwork ensuring the correct forms are filled out.

 

What evidence can I bring to my appointment to support my service connection claim?

  • Service medical records if you have them
  • Private Medical Records OR Doctors name, address and phone number with dates of treatment. Generally it is better if you can obtain private medical records and bring them as this greatly speeds up  the claim process. It is your responsibility to ensure the VA receives all records not in the possession of a Federal department or agency.
  • Discharge Paperwork/DD214
  • Buddy statements – written statements from those you knew in service who can provide verification of the illness, injury, event, etc.
  • Pictures
  • Written statements from family, friends, employers, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
  • Proof of diagnosis of the illness/injury/condition
  • Direct deposit information

 

What the evidence must show for service connection (from 38 U.S.C. 5103)

The evidence must show three things:

  1. You had an injury in military service, or a disease that began in or was made worse during military service, or there was an event in service that caused injury or disease.
  2. You have a current physical or mental disability shown by medical evidence.
  3. There is a relationship (nexus) between your disability and an injury, disease, or event in military service. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship. However, under certain circumstances, VA may conclude that certain current disabilities were caused by service even if there is no specific evidence proving this in your claim. The cause of a disability is presumed for the following veterans who have certain disabilities:
  • Former prisoners of war
  • Veterans who have certain chronic or tropical diseases that become evident within a specific period of time after discharge from service
  • Veterans who were exposed to ionizing radiation, mustard gas, or Lewisite while in service
  • Veterans who were exposed to certain herbicides, such as by serving in Vietnam
  • Veterans who served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War

 

What the evidence must show for an increased evaluation

To support your claim for an increased evaluation of your service-connected disability, medical or lay evidence must show a worsening or increase in severity and the effect that worsening or increase has on your ability to work.

 

What the evidence must show for secondary service connection

In order to support your claim for compensation based upon an additional disability that was caused or aggravated by a service-connected disability, the evidence must show:

  1. You currently have a physical or mental disability shown by medical evidence, in addition to your service-connected disability AND
  2. Your service-connected disability either caused ro aggravated your additional disability. Medical records or medical opinions are required to establish this relationship. However, the VA may presume service-connection for cardiovascular disease developing in a claimant with a certain service-connected amputation(s) of one or both lower extremities.

 

Can I email you my documents? Yes and no. You may email us, however, we cannot receive personally identifying information, medical information or other sensitive information via email as it is not encrypted. You may fax your documents to: 303-284-3163.

 

I received a letter from the VA regarding my claim – should I call or make an appointment?

  • Within approximately 60 days of filing a claim you will receive a one page letter letting you know that the VA received your claim. Call if this letter does not arrive within 60 days.
  • VCAA Letter/Duty to Assist – This letter discusses what evidence, if any, the VA needs for your claim. Call/make an appointment with your service officer to go over this letter as failure to provide the information the VA is requesting could result in a denial. This letter typically contains forms and may contain language seeking as if the VA is requesting information they already have. Your service officer will go over this letter and help you with anything that needs to be done.
  • Rating Decision and/or Award letter – Make an appointment as soon as you receive your rating decision and/or award letter. Your service officer will go over the information with you and discuss options with you. Note your rating decision and award are time sensitive documents.

What is a Compensation and Pension Exam?

This exam, often called a C&P Exam, is set up by the VA and is a VERY important element in your case. This exam is by a VA Medical Professional and/or Provider who examines you and provides a detailed report to the VA Regional Office and becomes part of the evidence for your claim. Failure to report for your exam(s) will result in a denial of your claim. Call the number given to you if you need to reschedule.

 

How soon will I hear about my case/how soon will my case be settled? You may anticipate a letter from the VA within 6-8 weeks upon filing a claim acknowledging receipt of your claim. If you do not receive this letter, contact our office right away.

You will receive another letter letting you know what the VA has received and what else, if anything, the VA needs for your claim. Contact your Veteran Service Officer to go over this letter.

Depending on the complexity of your case, the VA case load an many others factors it is impossible to predict with accuracy the time it takes to complete your claim. Once the claim is decided, the VA will mail you a Rating Decision. Call your Veterans Service Officer to go over this decision and he/she will discuss with you your options at that time.

The time for settlement of a case depends on many factors such as complexity and type. Thus, one claim may take a few months while others may take a year or more.

 

How the VA determines the disability rating

When disabilities are found to be service-connected the VA assigns a disability rating. The rating is changed if there are changes in the condition(s). Depending in the disability involved the VA assigns a rating from 0% to as much as 100%. The VA uses a schedule for evaluating disabilities. This is published as Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 4. The following is considered when determining the disability rating:

  • Nature and symptoms of the condition
  • Severity and duration of the symptoms
  • Impact of the condition and symptoms on employment

 

Claims for Pension with or without Aid and Attendance

Due to the individual specifics of these claims, eligibility, etc., call and make an appointment with a Veterans Service Officer and he/she will go over the details needed for these claims.

 

Should I call or correspond directly with the VA? We recommend Veterans and claimants to keep in touch with the VSO throughout the claims process instead of corresponding directly with the VA. This helps ensure your claim flows smoothly and avoids delays.
If I change my address or phone number with the VA Medical Center do I need to inform you as well? Yes. We will not only update our records, we will inform the VA as well on your behalf.

 

2016 COLA rates