When it comes down to acting in a timely manner, the VA can be about as useful as chem-light batteries or a left-handed monkey wrench. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do to expedite your case. However, there are five things you can do to make your claim easier to approve.
1. Have Access to a Physician Outside the VA
A good portion of VA claims relate to service-connection in dispute. Therefore, it may be helpful to have access to a physician outside of the VA who is willing to offer his or her medical opinion that your condition and resulting treatment is related to the activities and events you experienced during military service, as well as describe your limitations.
2. Collect Nexus letters
A Nexus Letter is a letter drafted by your doctor after they have examined your military records and medical files in which they state that, based off their medical opinion, it is “as likely as not” that your medical condition is a result of the activities and events you experienced during military service. Nexus letters can aide in proving that your condition is service-connected.
3. Remember the Buddy System and Collect “Buddy Letters”
Witnesses to your condition are helpful to have on your side. Contact the people you served with in the same unit, at the same time, that are aware of the injuries and experiences you are claiming and ask them to write a letter on your behalf stating information they are personally aware of as it pertains to your condition.
4. Write to Your Congressman and/or Senator
If you have been waiting at least a year for a decision, it may be to your advantage to write to your congressman and/or senator and ask for a congressional senatorial inquiry into your claim. Although you will typically receive a letter that states there are thousands of people ahead of you, writing a letter actually requires the VA to look into your status and requires them to respond to the legislature member looking into your claim.
How to Find and Email Your Senator
Step 1: Visit flsenate.gov/senators/district and click the button on the right-hand side that reads “Find your State Legislators U.S Representatives & U.S. Senators.”
Step 3: Once your search results load, you will see the name and photo of your Senator. Under his/her photo, you will see a blue “Email this Senator” button. Click this button and you will be prompted to fill out a form with your message and contact info.
6 Tips for Writing your Email:
- Start off by introducing yourself.
- Write in a professional tone.
- Explain the nature of your military service, and the activities and events you have experienced.
- Explain the conditions and/or injuries that you are claiming and that you have been attempting to get compensation for these conditions and/or injuries.
- Supply the date that you submitted your application and the number of days that you have been waiting for a response.
- Sign off with a request that the Senator looks into your claim. Example: It would be greatly appreciated if you would employ your good offices to contact the Veterans Administration and request they conduct a prompt investigation into the status of my claim.
Step 4: Click “Send Email” at the bottom of the form when you are ready to send the email.
5. Create an eBenefits Account
Your eBenefits account will be very useful to you in your VA claim. On your account you can manage your health records, obtain military information, and submit evidence. You can also check the status of your claim since your eBenefits account will register when a decision is made and what that decision is.
How to create an eBenefits Account
Step 1: Visit ebenefits.va.gov
Step 2: On the main page, click the tab on the top-right labeled “Register.”
Step 3: Follow the instructions and prompts to create your account. Make sure to write down your password and ID in a safe place so you don’t forget it later!
This is how you create a basic account, which is the first step. But in order to get the most out of your eBenefits account, you will need to upgrade to a premium account. If you upgrade to a premium account, you will be able to apply for new claims, access a VA benefits timeline, submit records, and order necessary medical supplies (such as hearing aid batteries and diabetic socks).
How to Authenticate Your eBenefits Account and Upgrade to “Premium”
After creating a basic account, you will be prompted to upgrade to premium and authenticate your account.
In order to authenticate your account, you will need to answer 5 questions to verify your identity. These 5 questions are pulled from the information found in your credit reports. You will have 2 minutes to answer each question, and allowing the timer to run out can prevent you from completing.
If you’d like to learn more about the VA and your rights, get my book, Standby to Standby: Why Your Veteran Benefits Are Taking So Long And What You Can Do About It.
From this book you will learn…
- 5 things you can do to move your case along quicker (page 2)
- Why it takes so long to receive a decision (page 1)
- 6 tips for writing an email to your Congressman and/or Senator about your claim (page 5)
- How to create and authenticate your eBenefits account (page 6)
- What an “Awarded Benefits” letter looks like (page 13)
- What a “Denial for Benefits” letter looks like (page 15)
- How to appeal a denied claim (page 16)
- And much more…