Much Needed Changes to VA Disability Ratings
Much needed changes are being implemented by the Department of Veterans Affairs for disabled veterans. These three disability rating revisions are the first changes in, hopefully, a long line of changes for veterans. Disability ratings are the ratings that determine the amount of compensation a veteran receives. The new revisions will be implemented immediately for all new claims.
The first new change has been in the works since January and will be changing how the VA Department evaluates traumatic brain injury (TBI). Traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide scope of issues, including amnesia, loss of consciousness, pain, headaches, speech and hearing problems, decreased attention and memory, as well as irritability, depression, slower thinking, sleep difficulties and social interaction issues. The new regulation will cover temporary and prolonged effects of TBI, including mental impairment, physical impairment and emotion and behavioral impairments.
It is quite common for veterans to return home with blast injuries from roadside bombings and other explosions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Over 6,000 veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries from these explosions, from mild impairment to severe trauma. The new revision will only apply to new disability claims, but the VA has stated that they will allow reevaluation in some cases, although they will not approve retroactive benefits for those who have already been rated. Hopefully this new revision will help veterans and their families receive the compensation they deserve for their service.
The second new change is to allow Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes referred to as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’, to be a service-connected disability. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is not entirely understood, but is thought to be caused by exposure to heavy metals, neurotoxins and certain viruses. Once diagnosed, ALS usually progresses rapidly. This new rule will apply to all new claims, pending claims and those currently being appealed.
The final change by the VA Department for disability claims is for evaluating multiple scars caused by service-connected burns. This new rule applies to all new claims.
Hopefully these changes are just the tip of the iceberg for the Veterans Affairs Department.
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