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VA Must Help Veterans Apply for SSD and Benefits

Author: Olinsky Law Group

Published: 2011-11-05

Synopsis:

Veterans Health Administration directive requires VHA health care providers to aid veterans in applying for Social Security Disability and other benefits.

Main Digest

A little-known Veterans Health Administration (VHA) directive requires VHA health care providers to aid veterans in applying for Social Security Disability and other benefits not related to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The directive, 2008-071, mandates that VHA health care providers assist veteran patients with completing non-VA medical forms required for various benefits processes, including Social Security Disability.

It also requires the VA health care provider to obtain, on request, medical statements, which can be used for non-VA purposes.

For those veterans applying for benefits like Social Security Disability, the help that the VHA owes them can be invaluable.

Process for Requesting Help With Non-VA Medical Forms

Veterans may ask VHA health care providers to complete non-VA forms that require the assistance of a health professional.

Either a primary care provider or a specialist can help the veteran with the form.

Examples of the non-VA forms that the VHA health care providers can help with include:

The VHA health care professional can complete the non-VA form by appointment or when the veteran visits him or her for treatment generally. All the veteran must do is present the form to the health care professional and he or she will fill it out. The veteran also must complete and sign the Individuals Request for a Copy of their Own Health Information Form (Form 10-5345a).

The practitioner may request that the veteran pick up the non-VA form at another time if the information necessary to complete the form is not available, or if filling out the form would cause a lengthy delay in the professional's schedule.

Process for Requesting Help With Medical Statements

A medical statement is a portion of a patient's medical records describing the status of an existing medical condition, disease or injury. The statement typically includes the diagnosis and prognosis of the person's disease or injury. Medical statements are especially useful if the patient is applying for Social Security Disability benefits. In such a case, a medical statement includes an evaluation of the person's ability or inability to do work.

If the veteran would like to forward his or her own medical statement to the party requesting the statement (the Social Security Administration or an insurer, for example), he or she must complete Form 10-5345a. On the other hand, if the veteran prefers that the VA forward the statement directly to the requesting party, he or she needs to complete the Request for an Authorization to Release Medical Records of Health Information Form (Form 10-5345).

The Importance of VA Medical Statements in Obtaining Disability Benefits

In addition to VA disability benefits, many veterans also apply for Social Security disability benefits. Medical statements from the VA are important in obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits determination process. If a veteran applies for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate his or her medical history to establish if the veteran is eligible for disability benefits.

In order to evaluate the applicant's medical history, the SSA requires a medical source statement, which is a medical opinion that outlines the degree of disability the SSDI applicant has. The medical source statement must come from acceptable medical sources, which include licensed physicians, psychologists and other professionals. The medical source statement is very important, as the SSA gives significant weight to the health care professionals' opinions when determining eligibility for disability benefits.

In a veteran's situation, the medical statement from the VA is likely going to be used as the medical source statement, as most of the licensed physicians familiar with a veteran's medical conditions are likely going to be VHA health care providers. It is therefore crucial for the veteran to obtain a non-VA medical statement, in order for the application for SSDI benefits to succeed.

An Attorney Can Help

One of the problems veterans encounter when applying for SSDI and other benefits is that the VHA and other health care providers are often non-responsive or only partially responsive to requests for medical statements and records. If the medical records provided to the SSA are incomplete, it can cause the SSA to deny benefits or order the applicant to undergo additional medical exams, further delaying the application process.

As a veteran, you are entitled to receive assistance from the VA in filling non-VA forms where a health professional's help would be useful. You are also entitled to complete medical statements from your VHA health care providers, for use in applying for SSDI and other non-VA benefits. If you are in this situation, an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability benefits can help. In addition to helping you to obtain your complete medical records from the VA, an experienced attorney can advise you throughout the benefits application process and ensure that you put forth the strongest application possible. Article provided by Olinsky Law Group- Visit us at www.windisability.com

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