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Do You Have To Pay Back Short-Term Disability?

Do You Have To Pay Back Short-Term Disability?

Veterans who suffer from a service-connected disability or illness are eligible to receive compensation and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, the process for approval can take a long time. In the meantime, many Veterans are in desperate need of benefits in order to offset the costs of their disabilities.

If you are a Veteran in need of benefits and have suffered from an injury during your time in the service, you are entitled to receive benefits from the VA.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn that the VA uses different timeframes for disability benefits
  • You’ll learn that you may be able to receive a prestabilization rating
  • You’ll learn about supplemental benefits you may be eligible to receive

What Is the Difference Between Short-Term Disability and Long-Term Disability?

Veterans are prone to suffer from disabilities or illnesses after they are discharged from the service. Some of these disabilities will heal or be cured over time, while others can only be treated to manage their symptoms.

Because there is a difference in the duration of some disabilities, Veterans’ eligibility for VA benefits may be limited to a certain amount of time. It is likely that in the medical diagnosis that a Veteran receives, the doctor will outline how long the disability will last.

Veterans who suffer from long-term disabilities — for example, an amputated limb that is the result of service-connected diabetes — will most likely have their disability benefits for the rest of their life. In these sorts of circumstances, the Veteran will be able to receive benefits for as long as they live. 

Short-term disabilities, on the other hand, do not last a Veteran for the rest of their life. An example of a short-term disability is a concussion sustained from an injury during the Veteran’s time in the service.

Even if the Veteran has symptoms lasting beyond their time in the service, it is possible for those symptoms to heal and decrease. Some treatments for certain disabilities are effective enough to the point where a Veteran will not suffer from the disability anymore.

The moment that a Veteran no longer suffers from a service-connected disability is the moment that they are ineligible for benefits from the VA. However, this does not mean that past benefits need to be paid back.

Below, we’ll cover more details about the requirements of short-term disability benefits.

What Is Necessary To Receive Short-Term Disability Benefits From the VA?

For the VA to grant a Veteran’s claim, they have to prove that their short-term disability or illness is service-connected.

If a Veteran is unable to prove that their disability is service-connected, the VA will deny their claim, thus unable to receive any benefits.

To prove that a Veteran’s disability is service-connected, the Veteran will have to supply evidence in their disability claim that shows three things:

  • A current diagnosis for the disability or illness
  • Evidence of the in-service stressor, incident, or event that caused the current disability
  • A medical nexus that connects the current diagnosis with the in-service stressor

If any of these components are missing from the disability claim, then the Veteran will be unable to make a service connection for their disability for either short-term or long-term benefits.

It can be difficult for a Veteran to make a service connection for their disability and receive benefits. The evidence that they gather — which can come in many forms — should help prove those three main things.

For the diagnostic evidence, a VA medical doctor will be familiar with the VA’s requirements and regulations. They will know the precise language that the VA requires in a claim in order to make their decisions.

For evidence regarding the in-service stressor, the Veteran should look for official records from the military. If the Veteran reported the incident that caused the disability, then there should be statements that detail the incident and the injuries that were sustained. These could come in the form of service records or military medical records.

Buddy statements are another helpful piece of evidence that can help provide evidence about an event or the consequences of an event. When writing a buddy statement, a Veteran can consult a friend or fellow service member that witnessed the event and ask them to write a truthful account.

What Is a VA Temporary Disability Rating?

Some Veterans are in immediate need of benefits right after they are discharged from the military. In these circumstances, a Veteran may be eligible for a prestabilization rating that entitles the Veteran to temporary disability payments.

Temporary disability payments may also be paid to Veterans who are immobilized while recovering from a surgery, convalescing with wounds, or hospitalized from an injury or condition related to their military service. However, those types of temporary disability payments have different requirements and are not subject to the same prestabilization rating.

Depending on the severity of a Veteran’s symptoms, the prestabilization rating for temporary benefits immediately after military discharge may be either 50% or 100%. This kind of temporary benefits will continue for one year after a Veteran is discharged.

In order to receive a prestabilization rating, a Veteran must:

  • Have a severe service-connected disability that is unstable
  • Have a disability that is predicted to continue for an unknown amount of time

The VA recognizes an unstable service-connected disability to be one that has either not been fully treated or will change over time.

The expectation with a prestabilization rating, then, is that the injury is not permanent or long-term. Rather, doctors believe that with the right amount of treatment, the Veteran will be able to heal from it.

Much like short-term and long-term disability benefits from the VA, temporary disability payments do NOT need to be paid back.

What About Social Security Benefits?

Many Veterans are already aware that they are able to receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs for short-term and long-term disabilities. However, Veterans may be unaware that they can also receive benefits from Social Security on top of their VA benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) both provide benefits to people who have a disability.

Medically speaking, the requirements for these two programs are the same. If a Veteran has a disability that the Social Security recognizes, then they qualify medically. However, there are also income requirements to take into account.

SSDI is given to people, including Veterans, who have worked long and recently enough to pay social security taxes on their earnings.

SSI, on the other hand, is for those who have a limited income and scarcer resources.

How Do Veterans Apply for Social Security Benefits?

Veterans who have a disability and are seeking benefits from Social Security will have to fill out an application.

Veterans should look over the disability checklist and familiarize themselves with all the requirements before completing the application. They should also gather the necessary evidence they’ll need to provide in their application. For example, Social Security will check how long a Veteran worked to see whether or not they qualify for any benefits.

Social Security may also require the names of doctors that a Veteran visited, different types of medication that they are taking, or medical tests that they have undergone.

Once a Veteran has applied for these benefits, they will have to wait until a decision is made. They are able to check the status of their application online with their Social Security account.

If a decision is made and the Veteran finds it unsatisfactory, they are able to appeal that decision, just like with VA benefits. However, there are some key differences between appealing a VA decision and appealing a Social Security decision.

What Is the Difference In Appealing a Social Security Decision?

When a Veteran appeals a decision made by the VA, they have one year to submit their supplementary claim. Oftentimes, a Veteran will consult an attorney that is experienced with the VA, since the supplementary claims and appeal process can be even more difficult than the initial claims process.

With Social Security, on the other hand, a Veteran will have to make an appeal within 60 days of the initial decision.

There are four different levels to appealing a social security decision:

  1. Reconsideration
  2. A hearing with an administrative law judge
  3. A hearing with the Social Security’s Appeal Council
  4. A review by the federal courts

Depending on what is involved in a Veteran’s case, a Veteran may want to appeal to a higher court or process. Like appealing any decision, the Veteran should make sure that they are able to provide evidence that proves Social Security’s decision wrong.

If they are unable to do so, then the Veteran will not be able to receive benefits from Social Security.

Conclusion

There are a multitude of ways in which a Veteran can secure benefits for their disability.

If they want to receive benefits from the VA, they must prove that their disability is a service-connected disability. They are then eligible to receive temporary, short-term, or long-term disability benefits, depending on when they were discharged, how long the condition is expected to last, and other factors.

With Social Security, however, Veterans do not have to prove that their disability is service-connected. Rather, they have to provide evidence of their income and work history to determine whether or not they can receive benefits.

Sometimes, a disability rating from the VA is not enough to offset the costs of treatment. With Social Security, a Veteran can receive more benefits to help support themselves. Consulting a legal expert in disability claims is often the best way to ensure a Veteran receives all the benefits they need and deserve.

For more information on VA law and Veteran’s benefits, visit our website.

Sources:

VA Temporary Disability (Prestabilization Rating) | Veterans Affairs

Temporary Disability Rating After Surgery or Cast | Veterans Affairs

Disability Benefits | SSA

Adult Disability Checklist | SSA

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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