If you believe the internet, or what the guy sitting across from you at your appointment at the VAMC said—which is what he heard from some guy who was sitting next to him at his last appointment—then the answer to the questions Who is eligible for VA compensation? and How do you get it? is No one, and You don’t.

I read comments like these every week on the VBA Facebook page. There are two thoughts I take away from these sentiments: some people commenting on Facebook would rather be cynics than attempt to help others; and some people are really, honestly hurting and need help with their VA compensation claims.

This blog is addressed to those who need help, don’t understand, or who’re trying to help others.

First, though, let’s bust those myths.

VA is still compiling FY16 data, but in FY15, VA paid more money to compensate more Veterans—with more claimed medical conditions rated at higher average percentages—than ever before. As you can see, someone’s getting paid, and that someone is (as of FY15) 4.56 million someones—and those someones are Veterans who took home $66.38 billion dollars in FY15 for their service-connected disabilities.

So, who are these people getting approved, and how do they do it?

If you read my last blog, you’ll remember that, since VA disability compensation is taxpayer money, there’s a legal process to claim that money. This means that VA disability compensation is guarded by the laws that your elected lawmakers wrote.

The laws explain who is eligible: those who have separated from active military service with any discharge except dishonorable, as well as those still serving in the Reserve/National Guard. That’s the first part. The second part is that, if you want to claim an injury or medical condition, it must have happened to you during the time you were active (including Reserves/Guard activated, Reserves/Guard drill and/or annual training). (An addition to the second part allows one to claim active military service aggravated a pre-service injury or medical condition). The third part is that, if you claim an injury or medical condition that occurred/happened to you during active service, then you need to give VA evidence of the injury or medical condition that occurred/happened during the time you were in active service.

Note: this does not mean that it had to happen while deployed, and it doesn’t mean it had to happen in uniform or during the duty day. Yes, you can file a claim if you served active duty during peacetime, or got injured in a pick-up basketball game off post after the duty day, and if the injuries you sustained affect you today, then it’s something you could claim.

Yeah, I know—I wasn’t a Sick Call Ranger, either. So, what do you do if you don’t have much in your records? My co-worker, Mark, wrote an excellent blog discussing what you can use for evidence. But I’d like to add even more detail to that list: pictures (you, your wound, your clothing and gear, your vehicle, your AAR, etc.), receipts, unit citations, award letters, prescriptions, news clippings, base hospital records, in-take and discharge logs; post-service private doctor records; and statements from your spouse, your commander, your platoon sergeant, your roommate, any witness who was there or knew you or was affected by your injury/medical conditions (“Yeah, after X happened, I remember Mikey didn’t go on patrol for a week, and I had to cover down.”).

The last thing you need is actually two things: a current medical diagnosis from a medical professional (VA or civilian), and for that doctor to give the professional opinion that after reviewing your military medical records your current diagnosis—the injury or condition you suffer from right now—is because of what happened to you in active service. Yes! Have the doc review your records.

Recap: active service period, not dishonorable; evidence that something happened to you on active service; current medical diagnosis; and medical professional agreeing the medical condition was caused by the thing that happened to you on active service.

So that explains Who is eligible for VA disability compensation and What you need to give VA to prove it. The last big remaining question is How? and I’ll cover that next time.

Disclaimer reminder: the internet, this blog and social media are not the places to share sensitive information, and I’m unable to answer complex or overly personal questions relating to your pending claim or your appeal of a completed claim. As always, IRIS is the best place (not the general VA call center) to ask these questions

Share this story

Published on Feb. 17, 2017

Estimated reading time is 4 min.

Views to date: 1,039


  1. Virgil S. Neece February 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I served 1974-1977 and have had a few things that showed up many years later. I have about 70% hearing loss and chronic back and leg pain caused by strokes or MS, they are still trying to determine. My BIG problem is getting records to prove that this happened back then, When I receive my records through VA they contain my enlistment physical but not my final etc physical. I have tried many times to get the final physical from Jan 1977 done in Hanau, West Germany and am told those records are no longer available. I did not start using VA Healthcare until 2006 and have used them exclusively since then.

  2. Adam Frey February 28, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Blogs always make it sound so straightforward and rosy, when in the REALITY which I and other service connected Vets live it is not so. Yes they pay you back pay after they Finally award you something….but they make no account for inflation or interest, that’s one scam. They drag it out so long that so many vets simply give up or die. There should be Mandatory monthly or at least quarterly updates on a vet’s case/appeal. And if ‘x’ time goes by there should be an instant review or something. I’ve been fighting a relatively simple issue, I am now in the 11th year. BVA remanded my appeal 2 years ago, I had a C&P 18 months ago, and since then….silence….So I’m sure the next letter I get will say my C&P is too old and order a new one, and back on the hamster wheel. They tell you to get a service officer….why? Is it not the VETERAN”S Administration? Arent they there to serve veteran’s? I dont need a service officer for most things in life, I expect private companies to do their jobs, why should I get less from the VA? Post a blog when they actually fix the appeals process, until then you are just blowing smoke…

  3. Mike Lewis February 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I am retired from the Navy. I suffered a kidney attack in boot camp. Was admitted to Great Lakes Naval Hospital where exploratory surgery was performed on one kidney. The doctors removed a cyst and put kidney back together. Pain began again and was diagnosed with hereditary polycystic diease. After retirement both kidneys were removed and i have had two kidney transplants also have polycyctic liver but it is functionibg at 100%. Did the VA via Navy actions when i had surgery in boot camp and was retained for service assume any responsibility for my kidney related disability?

  4. John Crockett February 27, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Is there any recourse/compensation for a life changing event that happened at the VA itself, during a medical procedure (colonoscopy) that is now not only humiliating, depressing, but is also keeping me from finding employment. I cant believe there is no recourse for what in a civilian hospital would be considered malpractice. I need some one that is truly on my side of this. Some one that will help me as now I am forced to live well below the poverty level, but can’t even get housing assistance. My life has been ruined my mental, physical and emotional health are gone and I have to search every day for a reason to just get out of bed. Please tell me how this is right!

    Let me be a little more detailed:

    October 2010 after several surgeries to remove cancerous colon polyps, I was severely backed up throwing up my own bile. I went to the Dallas VA ER they flushed me out and ordered a colonoscopy. The doctor did the procedure but ruptured me not once, not twice not even 3 times but I was told I had 14 ruptures. That is not an accident that is malpractice. Then I was informed after emergency surgery (I was leaking bile and air into my body cavity) that they had to remove almost all of my large intestine, and that instead of sending it off for biopsy they discarded it. I was 40, I have struggled to survive, I soil my self in public, to try and control it I am on an opiod based mediation to shut down my bowl it works for 3 to 4 hours but the drug to control it causes a positive drug test and thus makes me unemployable.

    I tried lawyers, the VA patient representative and have for years heard sorry that happened to you but no you can not get any kind of compensation. Is there anyone that can try and help make this wrong some what right????????

  5. Sy Kallhoff February 26, 2017 at 8:23 am

    I’am sick and tired of all the whining going on Did you hear any of rhe WW1 or WW!! vets complaining. No they got up off of there Butts and got a job raise a family and you are what turned out be nothing but wanting the GOV. to take care of you.
    Shame on you.

    Sy Kallhoff

    • John Crockett February 27, 2017 at 10:20 am

      not all, I have tried and am still trying to find an employer that will look beyond what the VA has caused and hire me for my skills. I do understand what you are saying but not every one is looking for a free ride but when you cant make a living because of something done to you beyond your control when trust that they are professional and will do a good job and you end up in a position like I am , what are you supposed to do? Please answer me that, or offer me an office management position or even just a decent paying office job and I will go to work. General statements are fine for those who do not know or understand.

    • Dale Hellman February 27, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      I agree Sy, I do not believe the VA was established to be complete medical care for all things that vets suffer from, especially aliments not service connected. It takes away from those that have suffered pain and debilitation.

  6. David Ulven February 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    I spent almost 2 weeks in the hospital at Ft. Leonardwood, Mo. in 1972 with A.R.D. I almost died and somehow that info has mysteriously disappeared. I developed asthma and copd due to this and yet my military records show nothing, so the V.A. turned down my claim, I wonder how many other people this has happened to.

  7. Trela Wishon February 20, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Question: My dad was active duty at Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, TX in 1958. He was a Munitions Technician. He loaded radioactive bombs on planes. The were manufactured in a warehouse building where he worked. He has COPD and very serious lung problems. How can we prove he was exposed to radiation fallout that caused his lung disease? Any suggestions?

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Trela, please don’t take this as a cop out answer. I mean it seriously and with best interest for your father. Since this is a complex question and I am not an expert, my best suggestion is that he speaks with a VSO to assist him. A VSO is a service organization like VFW, American Legion, DAV, AMVETS, etc., and their services are free. You can find them at most any VA Medical Center, though it’s best to make an appointment: http://www.va.gov/vso

      Another potential issue is the NPRC records fire–if your father doesn’t already have his records from service. The NPRC records fire destroyed “80 percent of Army personnel records for soldiers discharged between 1 Nov 1912 to 1 Jan 1960 and 75 percent of the Air Force records of Airmen discharged between 25 Sep 1947 to 1 Jan 1964 (with surnames beginning with Hubbard and running through the end of the alphabet).” You didn’t state your father’s name, nor his discharge, nor whether he has his own records, so hard to say if this affects him.

      A knowledgable VSO can do the legwork for him. In the meantime, gather everything he has that may help his cause: pictures, letters, postcards, service records, medals and awards letters, statements from others he served with (if possible), city records (is where he was stationed listed as a Superfund site?), and literally anything else you can think of that may prove or show that his now conditions were caused by his service.

  8. Victor Selers February 20, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Go directly to a lawyer and don’t waste your time on a VSO. Pay the lawyer and get it done right the first time. VSO s are salesmen.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      That is an option, and it is one’s right. However:

      1. (Generally speaking) a lawyer may not necessarily know the process any better than a VSO or You, the Veteran
      2. Lawyers will keep a huge chunk of your backpay
      3. Some of the common complaints are that lawyers don’t work quick, and it’s in their interest to delay the claim for as many months as possible to ensure a larger backpay

      These are the complaints and comments I often see re: lawyers on the social media platforms I administer for VBA, not necessarily my or the administration’s stance. Our official stance is that we have the resources provided online to help you successfully file. Or, if you dont’ feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can get a VSO to do it for you (for free).

  9. Catherine A. Bird February 20, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Okay, Mr. Davis, so what do you do if all of your military service medical records are HAND-WRITTEN and ILLEGIBLE?

    I served active duty in the U.S. Air Force for 8 years from 1990-1998, and every time I had to see a doctor/medical professional, they hand-wrote everything, in scribbles that resemble a two-year-old’s penmanship. I experienced 5 different injuries during my service, and made copies of my medical records right before out-processing. Nothing is legible, except for a typed report about a surgical C-spine discectomy from June 1995.

    As a result, I received a 20% disability rating JUST FOR MY NECK. And, while the VA recognized that my knee injuries were service-connected, I got nothing for them–all because I had ONE little knee injury prior to my military service, that did not interfere with my ability to RUN. Later, after a few more knee injuries during my service, I was told by doctors (during a temporary duty assignment (TDY) in Saudi Arabia) that I would never be able to run again.

    How am I supposed to prove that my injuries are service connected and worthy of compensation when NOTHING from my medical records during my service is legible????? If I can’t read them, surely no one else can.

    How do you explain that?

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Catherine, you’d think that doctors who spend so much time and money on their advanced degrees would first take penmanship lessons, right? Ugh.

      What do you do? Do you have sick call slips? Profiles? Exemptions from PT tests? Do you have any buddies or a spouse who could write a witness statement for you? Do you have any photos? Prescriptions? Receipts from buying medicine? Do you have awards letters that are relevant? Did you know that you could write your own lay statement, explaining what happened, when, where, and how? Did you know that you could transcribe or interpret the bad penmanship (“On page #, the illegible penmanship states X, Y, and Z. This is because 1, 2, and 3, and it effected me in A, B, and C ways while in service, and I, II, and III ways now, after service.” <- do that for every page of evidence that supports your claim and for which is illegible)?

  10. James Jackson February 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    What happened to the school check this month

  11. Joe arnold February 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    What happened to us navy vets from Vietnam who are suffering from known effects of agent orange but served aboard blue water ships. We seem to have been left out.

  12. Michael Shill Sr February 18, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Is it true according to the Law if service treatment records are missing, destroyed, or other wise lost, VA has the obligation to rebuild missing records after being released, and during the initial development of a Veterans claim?

  13. Mariam Martinez February 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Impressive Bio: Thanks for the information whereas, it is all very useful.

  14. Diana M Todd-Grosser February 18, 2017 at 11:46 am

    My husband was a ww2 disabled vet..He received a subsidy with his comp for me….when he died, the subsidy for me died with him…WHY I am his widow…I live on my ss from a job and other jobs totaling almost 40 years of work(I WORKED} yet, the subsidy from the VA which my husband received for me during his life, was in his check…I was told by VA advocate because of my SS I was not entitled to the subsidy after his death….WHY???????

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Diana, this could get pretty complex, and since it would require personal details, this is not the place to have this discussion. Please email us using IRIS: https://iris.custhelp.com/app/ask

  15. Steven M Ingmire February 18, 2017 at 11:15 am

    This a true statement, if you have a claim and document it in the service, you have the right to get compensation, yes it time consuming, but they back pay to the date of posting. It is important to document everything at time of injury even the little things count, getting primarily lead to secondarily issue and a higher percentage of compensation, so go for it, It is your right, I have.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:30 am


  16. 91Veteran February 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Jason, it might be more helpful to actually point out who veterans should see to determine the facts of filing a claim than post such condescending or misleading information.
    In the absence of facts, rumors will certainly flourish.
    If rumors are flourishing, that would suggest a poor effort at education. Why not point out who a veteran should see first when considering a claim? Is there someone within the VA that still understands their duty to assist?
    You then immediately go into reciting statistics regarding compensation that has been typical of the VA, and intentional by the VA to paint veterans as greedy rather than discuss the other side of service connection, which is required medical care for that condition.
    Your comments on the law are a real hoot given the VA often refuses to follow the law by using unqualified doctors to perform C&P exams, neglect their duty to assist and refuse to review medical records to see clear evidence of treatment of injuries while on Active Duty.
    Perhaps you will dismiss my comment as cynical, but I have over 25 years of experience with the VA as a service connected veteran, not an employee. I would rather have quality medical care than compensation, but the compensation makes up for what I pay out of pocket seeking that quality outside the VA.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:28 am

      91Veteran, I’m sorry you read condescension in my blog. I think it’s pretty clear and straight forward, and I’ve even received a few thank you replies as a result. That’s not common. It pains me to see that you believe my words are willfully “misleading.” But, as a writer, I slow down, take a deep breath, and realize that, even in my workshop classes in my MA program, some people don’t get me, my intent, or my message. It’s not a slight to them, just a matter of perspective and understanding. I’ve tried to make this a general and informative read. So far, it looks like I have succeeded.

      The issue with your first question is that it places the decision on someone other than the Veteran. The benefit (compensation) exists for the Veteran, not the gatekeeper. And who’s to say the gatekeeper is correct? If a Veteran feels s/he was injured in service, then they have the right to file a claim. Yes, this leads to a greater volume of claims, but it exists for the Veteran to take advantage of if they believe they should be compensated for what happened to them in service. Rather than add an unnecessary step prior to even filing for the benefit, we’ve explained the benefit, the eligibility, the process, the rates of pay, and have published on the internet step-by-step tutorials on how to do all of this. And then we blog about it and post on social media.

      But since you asked, yes, there are two common modes of prior-to-filing assistance, if desired: one can speak to the “Public Contact” at their regional office, or one can speak with a VSO. We encourage both. Technically, I guess this is a third method (these blog questions/comments).

      Your assertion that the statistics are used to “paint veterans as greedy” is troublesome, and wrong. These are the numbers we report to Congress, and they’re the numbers we use to (generally speaking) calculate what we’ll need for future budget. They’re literally just a snapshot. -I- used the statistics in this blog to objectively demonstrate that the sarcastic “No one” and “You don’t” responses are inaccurate. Your interpretation of the data isn’t shared by the Department or my administration.

  17. old marine February 18, 2017 at 8:15 am

    no wonder you don’t have any comments they get wiped out if they who monitor the comments don’t like them

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Old Marine, don’t mistake the lack of activity for something sinister. It’s just that this blog went out late on a Friday and the comments didn’t get pushed through until Monday. Also? There’s quite a few comments now–and they’re not all rosy.

    • Martha A Ousley March 1, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Mine has disappeared as well. I thought it to be honest, no holds barred albeit, but just the facts. I didn’t attack or use foul language. A retired employee of the disability department attacked me verbally and called my dying brother a liar. Either he lied when he signed the “I’m fine, let me go home papers in 1970” or he’s lying now about the agent orange, PTSD, etc. I outed her place of retirement and my post is gone. As usual. Typical VA baloney. We went private for care. But I will say this one last time. The healthcare is not charity, as we were treated over the last 4 decades. It was part of his pay plan. Signing off,
      A heartbroken sister
      Losing her brother

  18. Paul L. Schoen, SMSgt (USAF Ret) February 17, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Are you going to cover the “presumptive” cases such as Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and assignment in Vietnam?

  19. barry dubinsky February 17, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I was exposed to radioactive material. As a disposal tech

  20. Victor Kunkel February 17, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    What is being done for employees so overworked that it is abuse? Come to Santa Rosa CBOC; I dare you. Four MSAs are doing the work of 13. Two of us are Veteran Employees and we are being worked to the point of abuse. AL is being denied. Yet upper management continues to be hired. The VA is hurting us and we are getting sick. If you care, come observe. Victor Kunkel

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Victor, you should probably leave this comment on a VHA blog post, on a VHA social media page, or via an internal method, like your union steward.

  21. robin gray February 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    please send me more info on veterans benefits.
    i am with the vietnam era. i suffer from PTSD (1974-1976)
    i have no medical records because sick call was not promoted.
    please help me get some help for my condition.

  22. Peg Leg February 17, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I would be very appreciative on some information on how to survive a Claim 3911 for medical malpractice. I had a knee replacement at at VAMC which resulted in 4 additional surgeries, each to correct the last one and finally losing my right leg above my knee. It’s been 2 years and is now in the NOD stage. I have tried to get current information on it but it’s like the information is a closely guarded secret – especially to me. I’ve been told (read to) many times that it takes 291 days to process. It’s just a script being read in order to appease me.

    They tell me it’s not service connected but if I wasn’t a veteran I wouldn’t be receiving VA Healthcare – or lack thereof.
    I just really need some information about how to really check on it’s status. The first denial I received said I didn’t have the original knee surgery at a VAMC. I proved that to be false. HELP!!!

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Peg, I’m sorry to hear this. I believe you’re asking about an 1151 claim?

      More info here: http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-special-1151.asp

      You are correct, this is not a claim for something that happened in service, but something that happened at VA:

      -Injuries incurred or aggravated while receiving VA-sponsored medical treatment.

      -Injuries incurred or aggravated while pursuing a course of vocational rehabilitation under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31 or participating in compensated work therapy under 38 U.S.C. 1718.

      The choice is yours, and you have several of them. You can follow the instructions and do it yourself, but it’s probably in your best interest to talk to a VSO. I’d shop around (they’re free) for one who has experience with these types of claims. That said, they may just refer you to seek legal assistance.

  23. Frank Francis Kekes jr February 17, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    filled this out already

  24. Frank Francis Kekes jr February 17, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    I’ve filed commentkhd3

  25. Frank Francis Kekes jr February 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    If this injury sustained in service why can’t I file a claim and were do I find prove of medical attention that I had while serving?

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Frank, you can. But the evidence part is on you to obtain. Do you have your medical records? Did you ever go to sick call or the hospital while serving? Look at my list of things you can use for evidence in the blog above.

      In the meantime, if you don’t have your records, try contacting NPRC: https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel

  26. Frank Francis Kekes jr February 17, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I had a foot injury while on active duty in England and I reported it and the VA said there was no such Squardron while serving.
    The had no hospital just dispensery so finding records for that seems impossible. This injury has turned in Arithritis that efects my normal life! So now what if they can’t come up with evidence?

  27. Eddie McCoy Jones February 17, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I served from 1964 until November 1997. US Navy.ON the USS America Cva 66. I have a ringing in both ears.I put in all my time in the engine room on board the USS America. At that time there was no hearing protection offered.Shortly after I got out I realized that I could hear sounds but can’t understand what some people are saying. I got some hearing aids from the VA two years ago, but this didn’t stop the ringing. Can I get some help?

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Eddie, thank you for your service. As I’m not a doctor or qualified medical person, I can’t answer whether or not the ringing will go away, or whether it’s treatable. For this you’ll want to speak with your local VA Medical Center. Not sure who to ask? Walk in, ask for the “Patient Advocate,” and they’ll square you away.

      • Dale Hellman February 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

        Eddie, if you have ringing in your ears and have already received hearing aids, then go back to your primary care physician and complain of the ringing in your ears. They should set you up for another hearing exam for the ringing. First and foremost is to complain to your VA primary care Dr.ceD8

  28. Roosevelt Andrews Jr. February 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Hi my name is Roosevelt Andrews Jr. I have a host of injuries Hep C ,Vertigo, dizziness, cold weather frost bite, heart condition from antihistimine meds when in Army, percussion injuries from artillery unit,Reynaud syndrome small veins, sinus allergies from Korean country side front and rear sinus injuries bad heart and numbness in hands and feet , I have filled out compensation claims since 2006, my vision is fading fast now I can’t work as truck driver or Printing Press operator because I can’t see too well , and my health is fading and I am about to lose my home and my health will not let me provide for my family, I pray someone reads this thankyou for your time. Roosevelt Andrews Jr.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Roosevelt, I hope that you are first and foremost seeking treatment for your issues. You can apply for VA healthcare here: https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/online/

      As for your desire for compensation, your issues look very complex. I’ll get into this in the next blog, but due to the complexity and your own failing eyesight, your best bet is to get a VSO to assist you. They’re free, knowledgable, often Vets themselves, and they do great work. A VSO is a service organization like VFW, AMVETS, DAV, American Legion, and many many more. You can find one at your local VA Medical Center. Just make sure to bring allllllllllll of your records and evidence with you.

  29. William P Smith February 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you for the info,Brother. Seems pretty simple. Now I just need to know who I need to speak to to get a copy of my records from NMCB 74 while on deployment to Guam in 1973-75. Can Do….

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:47 am

      William, happy to help. :)

      If you didn’t leave service with your own records, contact NPRC: https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel

      They may not have everything, but they’ll probably have something. Be patient, it can take a couple months. When you get what they send, look it over for anything that can help your cause, such as the list of things I mentioned re: evidence in the blog above.

  30. Beatrice Lamb February 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    I was in the army guard for 4 years, got out on a general discharge. I was on active orders for over a year, am I able to claim anything? I have shoulder, hip and back issues

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Beatrice, you can claim any medical condition that happened to you while you were active for drill, annual training, or deployment. Remember: “shoulder, hip and back issues” are not medical conditions. You must have a specific and current medical diagnosis, evidence in your records from something that caused these medical conditions, and then a medical opinion agreeing they’re related.

  31. Doug Crow February 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for clearly stated information.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Thank you for reading, Doug. Please consider passing it along to those you think it may help. :)

  32. John D. Nusbaum February 17, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Finally, one of the most concisely written explanations of what the VA compensation system is and how to get on board.
    Thank you Jason Davis.

    John D. Nusbaum
    USAF Pararescue Specialist
    1965-1969 One tour 37th ARRS, Vietnam

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:42 am

      John, thank you for your service, and thank you for reading. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to even occasionally read a simple thank you. Social media gets ugly sometimes, but I’m just trying to lay it straight for all who will read. :)

  33. Barrie Gallego February 17, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Why do we that haven’t retired or received a Purple Heart, not rate travel pay while the mileage we all have to drive Is the same?

    14 years and told I am not qualified as well my brothers and sisters in uniform!!

  34. Vivian Walters February 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    I beg to differ with you but the compensation board does not listen to the doctors treating their patients. My husband is being treated by rheumatologists, hematologists, and pulmonologists at the va med center. All 3 believe his igg4 condition is related to his contact with agent orange. Because this condition is not in va guidelines his claims have been repeatedly denied.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Vivian, hard for me to reply without having any other information. Also, the disclaimer mentions that this isn’t the place for personal details. That said, the claim decision letter–even a denial–is the roadmap to getting granted. It shows what you gave VA, what VA looked at, and why it was/not granted. If denied, it also explains what more is needed to be granted.

      So, your husband is being treated and he has a current diagnosis. That’s the first thing. The three docs believe his conditions were caused by something that happened to him in service, and have supplied you with written evidence (perhaps a DBQ?) for you to submit with his claim. That’s thing two. You didn’t mention it in your comment, but you didn’t list the third needed thing–evidence from service.

      It’s absolutely possible to claim something that isn’t on the docks. I, personally, have a medical condition that isn’t listed by my actual diagnosis name, but is under a more common and somewhat-related condition. If you have the evidence to support it, the diagnosis, and the medical opinion that it’s all linked, then you can get it granted.

  35. Marjorie Finnegan February 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you for your time and research into this matter and sharing it with many that do not know or understand the VA system. Great work!

  36. Alan Preisser February 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    …”remember that, since VA disability compensation is taxpayer money…” This is not true if you have a VA Disability Rating (DR) of less then 50%. I have a DR of 40% and for 24+ years they have deducted my VA payment from my military retirement pay, only to give it back to me from the VA. It is MY money taken from me because I stayed in the service for full retirement. If I had left the service and was a civilian worker, the VA would have been paying me this money on top of any other compensation or retirement. Bottom line: I am being penalized for remaining in the service. The 50% DR criteria is a subjective and purely political figure; why should someone with 50% DR be paid his full retirement and VA payment while a person with 49% or less not receive their VA compensation without sacrificing an equal amount from their earned retirement pay.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Alan, in your example, you said “purely political figure.” The imperative here is to bring this up to your elected representatives who can change the law.

  37. brigitte pruett February 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    thank you for your blog. After covering the HOW, can you also cover “AFTER THE HOW”. What steps a veteran needs to take after submitting all the paper works required, all the documentation needed, the VA said that it has all it needs, but a year later the status is still in a review state.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Brigitte, unfortunately, there’s nothing active “to do” in the after state. You literally just wait. As someone who’s been in that process and knows the anxiety and uncertainty and sometimes frustration, I realize how much a letdown this answer is, but my method of communication is to tell it like it is.

      If you want a speedy decision, do NOT add anything to the claim after it has been submitted.

      That said, most claims only take a couple to a few months. There are some exceptions, since no two claims are the same, but there’s so many variables that affect how long. Perhaps I’ll touch on that then, too.

  38. William H Rather February 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm


  39. ROGER WIES February 17, 2017 at 12:21 pm


  40. K M Hall February 17, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Jason, What you say is fine, however, I was in a 3 car pileup during a drill weekend. I brought the accident report to the center & the corpsman did not make any notations in my record. Flash forward I was on a 9 mo Presidential recall & while lifting heavy furniture, felt/heard something snap in my back. By the following Monday I went to sick call. The army medic at 4 pm asked” if I could return the next day as the contract physician was leaving at 1630 & was STILL seeing the morning patients” When I DID see him the next morning (the medics had given me some muscle relaxers to help) with NO examination he wrote it down as” soft tissue damage”. That is what went in my records. & the Detroit VA? ” you had pre- existing back problems”. Phooey.
    BUT the people at the Saginaw VA are a great bunch of people who are to be commended for going above and beyond!

  41. Howard L Ganong Jr February 17, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I served in peacetime. I spent about a year in Germany. It took me a few years to claim any benefits but with a VA interview I was able to identify what helped cause my hearing problem. We were combat engineers and worked with explosives so that meant loud noises. But more specific was “tank rescue.” Tanks were stuck in the mud so that we could practice rescuing a tank from the mire. In doing that I was exposed to the loud engines of the tank, working right near the bellowing exhaust pipes. I remember the Sargent yelling orders at me following a tank rescue and I honestly could not hear him for about 25 minutes. When I told that to the VA interviewer he immediately recorded it and began appointments for me. I am glad to say that my hearing aids, provided by the VA helped me to hear family and friends once again. I am very thankful for that.
    Other issues with my health have also been treated in a professional and friendly manner.
    Thank You,
    Howard L. Ganong Jr.

  42. Leona Scott February 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Propaganda that is what this is. I have been trying to get disability since 2007. Submitted two CUEs of fact. VARO signed for them but never received them!! DeNovo Review submitted and received. I think someone from cleaning crew signed that. Not a GS12 as it should be. In both SOCs I have from VARO, no CUE mentioned. My entire file was sent to Am Vets wo POA. On and on. All documented.

  43. Carolie Watkins February 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Vietnam Vets Agent Orange exam conditions need to be treated by VA because it takes years for disability approval. Agent Orange conditions need immediate care. IHD was a priority and NM Vet has had 2 heart surgeries and many stents and still waiting 4 years later for disability. His teeth are rotten and infected from Agent Orange and this is affecting his overall health and if gets to his heart it’s over. VA will not pull his teeth until he gets disability for his teeth. He will not live 4 more years with this infection

  44. betty February 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    BS my husband has been fighting this since 30+ years ago and still no results. What a load of crap and because the VA had inexperience, lifers and clerks reading and making a decision, God help all our vets. I will continue to fight for my husband as he was part of the Vietnam Era. Shame on the Dept. of VA and the Secretaries who run the VA. Donald Trump you need to realize that there’s more than healthcare that’s wrong with the VA. My dad passed away 6 yrs ago and the VA is STILL paying for his healthcare even though I sent exactly what they needed. You want to know what’s wrong……contact me. I can give you a full blown education on the issues. Still waiting for an expedited (yes I said expedited) decision for my husband. Reply, WHICH THE VA NEVER provides, is required. Don’t care how busy folks are and don’t make the new administration an excuse since Donald Trump says he loves or veterans and military

  45. Bernard James February 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Nephew discharged from USMC basic training 1981 after five- six weeks for medical reason. Never improved and passed away two years ago. Is he considered a veteran eligible for benefits?

  46. Bernard James February 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Nephew medically discharged from USMC basic training after app. five weeks. Health never improved, and he passed away from condition for which was discharged and others. Would he be considered a veteran eligible for benefits?

  47. Raymundo alvarez February 17, 2017 at 11:34 am

    That a lot of bull because I file since 1975 and the v.a. lost my paperwork I still not getting v.a. compensation or disiabliliy check time and time still and now 67 yes old and now dieing so good luck

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Reymundo, I hope you stick around to read my next blog. Hopefully for next week. There, I’ll discuss how to actually file/send in your claim. Though “paper” is still an option, it’s slower and not recommended. Our entire process is digital, worked on computers. The simplest bet, though, is to just get a VSO to assist you.

  48. BED February 17, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Great information. My hope is that individuals will take the time to read it because there are a lot of myths circulating about Veterans benefits that are incorrect. VA has been good to many, and my wish is that all of my fellow veterans receive the same benefits.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:05 am


    • David Syster February 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Most likely Curt is not a doctor to diagnose his issues, so my opinion is to explain your symptoms and if his medical records have similar symptoms then he should be scheduled for a medical exam. His symptoms have to relate to an injury or medical situation from his military service.

  49. Curt Bartrug February 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

    What a crock! I provided evidence for continuing back problems from helicopter insertions in Vietnam and a witness (my former RTO) with a certified letter and went to appointment after appointment after appointment and then they wanted me to go to more.I finally told them to go to hell. Decided it wasn’t worth the aggravation dealing with the VA.

    There medical care has been good but dealing with the compensation part has been a joke.

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Curt, you didn’t specify, but this is a good place for a general comment re: what one can claim. This comment is not necessarily directed at you.

      “Back problems” or “knee pain” or something similarly vague are not actual medical conditions. As mentioned in the blog above, one needs to file for a specific and currently diagnosed medical condition. Pain is a symptom, it is not a medical diagnosis.

      If you’re having issues with your VA healthcare, our friends at VHA will be able to answer some of your general questions: https://www.facebook.com/VeteransHealth/

      Or, you could just go to your local VAMC and speak to the “Patient Advocate.”

  50. Charles Hubbs February 17, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Really,; seriously? A veteran who had a quack for a doctor who doesn’t know much an makes an incorrect diagnosis, that will get everyone off the hook. All they hire is incompetent doctors, that is the only kind they can afford, right? So, who suffers for 35 plus years now with a real bad back and can’t even go to a chiropractor? Me. It was a degenerative disc, not a pulled muscle.
    I am tired of telling my story tho. Who really cares? Not the VA…

  51. Emil Cuevas February 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I have service related health problems that I am having addressed with the VA and private health care facilities. I was not in combat but suffered from alcoholism and mental health problems.
    I served from 1967-1970. I have nightmares and occasionally suffer from anxiety and lack of sleep because of some of the things I witnessed. Do I have a good case for receiving benefits?

    • Jason Davis February 22, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Emil, welcome home. If you are being treated for those issues, then that is a good start. It’s also the most important part–ensuring you’re getting the care you need. Do you have a good case? I don’t ever wish to imply someone shouldn’t apply for the benefits they feel they need or have earned. I simply make it a point to outline how to do so. In the blog above, it lists what you will need to demonstrate to the VA. If you’re being treated, then you likely have one of the three things you’ll need. The other two are listed above.

    • Charles H Gonzalez February 27, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      I am getting 40 percent disability for injuries received in the military after 20 years service. Been trying to get increase for my back do to chronic pain and receive injection in my back about every six to seven months. I was denied the last time I filed a claim .

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • The PACT Act will help VA provide health care and benefits to millions of toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors. Veterans have already begun to apply for the benefits.

  • More than 821,000 Veterans who want the convenience of an easy app on their smartphones are downloading VA’s Health and Benefits mobile app.

  • Here are the most asked questions and answers about Long COVID. Also, a list of many of the symptoms. Use this list to tell your clinician or care team.