Va Disability Rating For Tbi


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When Should You File A Claim For A Tbi

How to Get a VA Rating for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

While there is no cure for TBI, early intervention and treatment can help to minimize the long-term effects of the injury. TBI symptoms often get worse over time and can increase the risk of developing mental health problems and nervous system diseases.

Getting treatment as early as possible is important, which is why you should file a TBI VA claim and get access to VA healthcare for TBI treatment as soon as possible.

What Veterans Need To Know About The Symptoms And Effects Of A Tbi

A traumatic brain injury can happen to anyone, but its a critical health issue for service members and veterans. A TBI is caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head that disturbs and interferes with normal brain function.

When the brain moves back and forth inside the skull, the rapid motion causes stress that can damage brain tissue when nerve fibers are pulled apart. For most people, a TBI is typically caused by a fall, motor vehicle accident, or an assault when the head strikes another object.

Each year in the U.S., approximately 1.7 million people sustain a TBI, and over 50,000 die because of TBI injuries.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has given major focus to TBIsoften referred to as the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan Warsas military personnel are at a greater risk for experiencing a TBI than civilians. Not only are military training activities potentially dangerous, service members are often deployed to locations where they risk being exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices . Additionally, they are vulnerable to suicide bombers, mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, and land mines.

How To Get Disability Benefits For A Tbi

For the VA to consider disability benefits, you must file a claim. The VA will usually request a Compensation and Pension exam. The examining physician will complete a neurological exam. They also will ask you questions about your symptoms and service. If the VA schedules an exam, you should attend it to avoid denial of your claim.

You also can use a Disability Benefits Questionnaire to help your claim. The questionnaire allows your physician to address symptoms, severity, possible causes, and how the condition may be related to other health concerns. A private physician can complete the form for you.

Along with reports from a neurologist, mental health professional, and other doctors, you would want to submit service records that document the injury if theyre available. You also can submit buddy statements from fellow service members and lay statements from people who knew you before and after the head injury and can speak to the changes youve undergone.

Once the VA processes your claim for benefits, you will receive a rating decision containing either a grant or a denial. If the VA denies your benefits, you can file an appeal. If you receive more than a 0% rating, you should receive monthly compensation and could be awarded past due benefits back to when you filed your claim.

The firm got me to 70%, and I was happy. Individual unemployability was awarded to me and to this day Im so grateful. My future is no longer bleak. These people work very hard for you.

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The Benefit Of Presumed Service Connection

When the VA presumes that a condition is service-connected, this means the veteran does not have to prove that the illness or injury was caused while they were in service. Medical evidence won’t be needed because the VA decides that the mere existence of the disease or medical condition is enough to establish service connection. This is much easier than having to submit evidence to prove the disability was caused during service.

However, even if the illness or injury doesn’t entitle the veteran to presumed secondary service connection under the proposed rule, an application for benefits can still be made under other service connection rules. See this article on the various ways to establish service connection to get benefits.

Services A Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer Can Provide

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When you are working on a claim after suffering a traumatic brain injury, you may want to hire a skilled Colorado VA TBI lawyer. If you are a veteran who relies on disability benefits to cover your medical expenses and other costs related to your injury or illness that you have developed after military service, you may have an issue receiving your benefits. If you are planning to file a claim for the first time, its important that you get it right. A lawyer can support you as you file your claim, and if you need any issues to resolve, a lawyer can find solutions for them. Know some of the following legal services that you can expect to receive from a qualified lawyer.

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Legal Assistance For Veterans With Tbi

If you were exposed to a blast on active duty and your doctors are concerned you may now be showing signs of a TBI, please contact the experienced advocates at Veterans Help Group to evaluate any possible claims that could be made. We offer a free case evaluation and are happy to answer your questions.

Hanks, Temkin, Machammer, & Dikmen, 1999.

Bowen, Chamberlain, Tennant, Neumann, & Conner, 1998 Deb, Lyons, Koutzoukis, Ali, & McCarthy, 1999 Holtzer, Burright, Lynn, & Donovick, 2000 Jorge et al., 2004 Jorge, Robinson, & Starkstein, 1993 Mooney & Speed, 2001 Pedoroff et al., 1992.

Max, MacKenzie, & Rice, 1991 Wallace Bogner, 2000.

Deb et al., 1999 Mooney & Speed, 2001 Price, 2004 Silver, Kramer, Greenwald, & Weissman, 2001.

The second proposed note directs raters that cognitive impairment cannot be evaluated under both the cognitive impairment criteria and as part of the subjective clusters. The third proposed note directs raters to evaluate under the set of criteria that is most in accord with reported residuals regardless of classification of the TBI as mild, moderate or severe and the severity determination in proximity to the time of injury.

What About Secondary Service Connection

It is possible for veterans to qualify for benefits for secondary service connection due to other conditions that developed as a secondary result of a traumatic brain injury such as Parkinsonism, Dementias, Depression, and more.

When a veteran seeks disability benefits for a TBI, its possible that they may also qualify for benefits for secondary service connection. This means that the veteran has other conditions that developed as a secondary result of TBI.

Officials actually adjusted the secondary service connection regulations for TBI in 2013, connecting several illnesses to this condition. These conditions include:

These all can apply toward a secondary service connection claim, unless there is clear evidence to demonstrate the contrary. Since the above conditions can potentially inhibit your ability to work and perform daily functions, you might decide to seek VA evaluation for the disability.

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Veterans With Brain Injuries Or Related Illnesses That Resulted From Military Service Will Soon Have An Easier Time Getting Disability Compensation

Thousands of service members returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from traumatic brain injury . So many, in fact, that TBI is called the “signature injury” of these wars. This has been attributed in part to the common use of roadside bombs , fire bombs, and other explosives by insurgents.

Traumatic brain injury is characterized by both physical and psychological impairments, and oftentimes, veterans suffer from residual effects of TBI. In those cases, the VA may not recognize those residual symptoms as being caused by traumatic brain injury, and this creates a limitation on the benefits a veteran can receive.

Va Presumptions For Traumatic Brain Injuries

How is VA TBI Rating Determined?

For many years, the VA faced criticism for not recognizing the severity of TBI and the role it plays in facilitating other serious, crippling conditions. It responded to the criticism in 2013 by proposing new regulations that expanded benefits for veterans with TBI who later develop certain conditions. The regulations went into effect in January 2014.

The new regulations presume service connection for five diseases if precipitated by a service-connected TBI. In other words, if you suffered a TBI during your service, the VA must grant service connection to the following:

Parkinsons disease: Presumed to be service-connected if diagnosed following moderate or severe service-connected TBI.

Seizures: Presumed to be service-connected if diagnosed following moderate or severe service-connected TBI and doctors have established no other cause.

Dementia: Presumed to be service-connected if diagnosed within 15 years of moderate or severe service-connected TBI.

Depression: Presumed to be service-connected if diagnosed within three years of moderate or severe service-connected TBI or within one year of mild TBI.

Hormone Deficiency: Presumed to be service-connected if diagnosed within one year of moderate or severe service-connected TBI.

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How Does The Va Rate Tbi

To rate a veterans traumatic brain injury, the VA follows 38 CFR § 4.124aSchedule of ratings neurological conditions and convulsive disorders.

VA first identifies three main areas of dysfunction caused by TBI that profoundly affect a veterans ability to function, and each area of dysfunction generally will be evaluated.

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Emotional/behavioral dysfunction
  • Physical dysfunction
  • Residual TBI symptoms can also include subjective symptoms that are harder to prove medically, such as fatigue, sleep problems, or headaches.

    Under 38 CFR, VA then evaluates the TBI residuals based on the severity of the following 10 categories:

    • Memory, attention, concentration, executive function

    For each of the above ten criteria, VA assigns a level of severity on a scale of 0 to Total. VA then equates that value to the VA rating schedule for TBI of 0, 10, 40, 70, and 100 percent.

    Bear in mind, VA compensation is awarded based on your inability to work. In theory, you may be awarded any of the following VA ratings in light of how the TBI residuals impede your ability to perform in a work environment and complete activities of daily living .

    Tbi And Secondary Service Connection

    When a Veteran seeks disability benefits for a TBI, its possible that they may also qualify for benefits for secondary service connection. This means that the Veteran has other conditions that developed as a secondary result of TBI.

    Officials actually adjusted the secondary service connection regulations for TBI in 2013, connecting several illnesses to this condition.

    These conditions include:

    • Parkinsonism following moderate or severe TBI
    • Dementias that develops within 15 years of moderate or severe TBI
    • Unprovoked seizures following moderate or severe TBI
    • Depression that manifests within three years of moderate or severe TBI or within 12 months of mild TBI
    • Disease of Hormone Deficiency that manifests with 12 months of moderate or severe TBI

    These all can apply toward a secondary service connection claim, unless there is clear evidence to demonstrate the contrary. Since the above conditions can potentially inhibit your ability to work and perform daily functions, you might decide to seek VA evaluation for the disability.

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    How Does Va Diagnose Tbi

    VA generally relies on the following evidence to diagnose TBI and evaluate the severity of the traumatic injury:

    • Glasgow Coma Scale scores
    • Duration of an altered mental state of consciousness
    • Duration of loss of consciousness
    • Duration of amnesia

    A host of immediate symptoms and symptoms that surface after the injury also help the physician understand the severity of a TBI, including:

    • Not thinking clearly, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering,
    • Paralysis or stroke
    • Anxiety or depression
    • Sleeping too much, too little sleep, difficulty waking up or falling asleep

    Depending on the medical evidence and symptoms, VA will diagnose TBI as mild , moderate or severe. Again, this diagnosis of the severity of the initial trauma is not used for rating purposes.

    Practice Tips & Strategies

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    Client Interview

    Given the prevalence of the problem, it is prudent to make TBI a part of any initial client interview. As part of any initial interview, it is important to initially ask about any exposure to a blast or other type of concussive event. If a concussive event is established, go through the checklist of symptoms with the client to determine what, if any, current symptoms the client may be experiencing.

    Review records

    Review the medical records for any evidence of symptoms of, and treatment for, TBI. You may be fortunate enough, if the treatment is fairly recent, to find documentation on TBI screening.

    In an effort to prevent soldiers from falling through the cracks, the Army recently instituted mandatory training for TBI for all soldiers. This training includes video and written material on TBI producing events, short and long term symptoms including mild TBI, and treatment options including screening for TBI. This training provides a much greater awareness to veterans of TBI. It also promotes active and aggressive treatment and assistance from fellow soldiers and leadership, in recognizing symptoms of TBI in others. Hopefully, this will result in more thorough documentation of the symptoms.

    The DVBIC also provides a form for medical treatment providers, including the MACE clinical form and the Clinical Practice Guideline and Recommendations. The forms are all available on the DVIBC website at .

    Making the claim


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    How Are Tbis Diagnosed

    After suffering a TBI, symptoms may begin to manifest cognitively, physically, behaviorally, and/or emotionally. These symptoms of a TBI are unique to the individual and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, the most common symptoms include the following:

    • Dizziness and headaches
    • Difficulty concentrating

    TBIs are diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe based upon medical testing and the severity of the veterans symptoms. Residual symptoms of mild TBIs usually, but do not always, resolve within about six months after the injury. Residual symptoms of more acute TBIs can be long-lasting, permanent, or may take years to manifest .

    Assessment of a TBIs initial severity is measured by:

    • The results from MRI, PET, CT, or other medical imaging scans
    • The length of time that a veteran faced an altered state of consciousness
    • The length of time that a veteran remained unconscious
    • The length of post-traumatic amnesia
    • The score the initial trauma receives on the Glasgow Coma Scale

    Below is a table outlining how VA measures the severity of an initial trauma in order to diagnose a TBI:

    Note: The classification measured by the table above has no bearing on VAs evaluation for a rating decision, only to measure the initial severity of a TBI.

    Current Tbi Denial Issues

    One of the biggest problems Ive seen and heard from other attorneys is VAs use of contracted examiners who frequently co-mingle PTSD with TBI.

    This frequently results in a lower overall disability rating. Or, it will prevent the veteran from securing Permanent & Total due to possible improvement of PTSD.

    Is the commingling, anti-pyramid approach correct, here?

    Frequently not.

    The reality is medial science has the ability to differentiate between many of the symptoms of TBI and PTSD. However, examiners frequently claim that such symptoms cannot be differentiated without mere speculation.

    Remember. A TBI disability is a physical disability to the brain. PTSD is a mental health disability. These are not the same types of conditions, but they sometimes share symptoms.

    Is there a way to win. Yes, but its risky to go it alone.

    To win in these scenarios, veterans are frequently required to hire an attorney who in turn will hire an expert to evaluate the medical evidence. Those veterans who go it alone frequently get caught up in the appeals hamster wheel or give up.

    Giving up is the most tragic outcome, especially since certain forms of health care may only be available through VA with a rated TBI. For these veterans, they frequently go without the care they need and deserve because VA is trying to save Uncle Sam a bucks on the backs of vets.

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    There Should Be A Link Between The Current Disability And The In

    A medical nexus is required to establish a connection between your TBI and your in-service injury. This document is important in filing a VA disability claim. All the details of your physical, mental, intellectual changes must be included in your statement. If you can also prove that a secondary condition was caused by the initial TBI, you can recover additional compensation.

    When you apply for disability compensation for a TBI, the VA will review your documentation and evidence. They will examine your personnel and medical records and look for evidence to prove service connection. In addition, you must also provide personal statements and witness statements.

    In some cases, the VA may require you to attend a Compensation & Pension examination. The VA clinician will do an assessment and provide a medical opinion regarding the severity of your medical condition. Failure to report to this examination may lead to the denial of your claim.

    Why Hire A Lawyer To Helpwith Your Tbi Va Disability Claim Appeal

    VA Disability Compensation for TBI and PTSD

    The VA disability benefits system is supposed to be veteran-friendly. However, the rules and regulations governing the claims process can be confusing and frustrating for everyone involved. You do not have to face the VA and its legal system alone. At Berry Law Firm, we know the way forward.

    For many years, we have helped veterans to fight for their VA disability benefits on appeal. Our attorneys understand the claims and appeals process, the evidence necessary to prove your TBI is related to service, how to maximize the assigned VA disability rating for TBI and related disabilities, and how to determine the proper amount of back pay that disabled veterans deserve.

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