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VA Short-Term Disability: Everything You Need to Know

VA Short-Term Disability: Everything You Need to Know

If you were injured or disabled in the military, you might receive a temporary or short-term disability rating. Short-term disability ratings are intended to compensate Veterans who experience severe or total disability temporarily after being discharged from the military.

Short-term disability and the VA can be complex, especially because there are multiple types of short-term disability ratings. Let’s look at what short-term disability under the VA means.

What Is a Short-Term Disability?

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides three types of short-term total disability ratings. These ratings are intended to protect Veterans who are injured and/or disabled and require different means of recovery or medical assistance. 

What Is a Prestabilization Rating?

A prestabilization rating is temporary and immediate. It’s assigned to Veterans recently discharged from the military with an unstable or severely disabling condition expected to continue “indefinitely.” 

A Veteran with a prestabilization rating is automatically considered to be least likely to be self-sufficient and most in need compared to other severely injured Veterans.

These ratings are assigned in increments of 50% to 100% over 12 months following a Veteran’s initial discharge date. For instance, a Veteran who receives a 100% prestabilization rating experiences an unstable condition that will result in at least one severe disability. The VA only assigns it if the Veteran cannot be expected to achieve substantially gainful employment.

Veterans who receive a prestabilization rating will be subject to a reevaluation between 6 and 12 months following their separation from service. If there’s evidence of recovery, your disability rating may decrease. 

You cannot receive a prestabilization rating if you are automatically and immediately eligible for a 100% schedular rating or a 100% TDIU rating.

What Is a Hospitalization Rating?

The VA assigns a hospitalization rating to any Veteran hospitalized for over 21 days because of a service-connected condition. It also assigns this rating to Veterans who remain under hospital observation for over 21 days at the expense of the VA. 

To summarize, you must receive treatment at a VA-approved hospital or medical center to qualify for a hospitalization rating.

The effective date for a temporary hospitalization rating is the same day continuous hospitalization begins. Benefits continue until the last day of the month, during which the Veteran stops receiving treatment for the service-connected condition.

If a Veteran is hospitalized for over six months, their benefits claim folder should include a note that their disability(s) warrant consideration for a 100% schedule or disability rating.

What Is a Convalescence Rating?

A convalescence rating is a temporary total compensation rating assigned to Veterans who are recovering after an attack of disease, injury, or surgical operation. 

100% convalescence ratings are assigned only to Veterans who underwent surgery or other treatments for service-connected disabilities at a VA-approved medical facility or center. 

Furthermore, Veterans can only qualify for this rating if they meet one of the below standards:

  • Underwent surgery or treatment with a convalescence time of one month or more
  • Experienced severe side effects or postoperative residuals that came from surgery, such as infected surgical wounds or surgical wounds that did not completely heal
  • Experienced the immobilization of one or more of their major joints by the use of a cast without surgery

This disability rating is intended for Veterans likely to recover partially or completely soon. Effective dates for convalescent ratings are the same days of hospital admission or outpatient treatment. 

Convalescent ratings may continue for up to three months from the first day of the month following outpatient release or hospital discharge. Some extensions may be possible.

Who Is Eligible for Short-Term VA Disability Benefits?

The VA provides various short-term disability benefits for Veterans who receive medical attention from the VA or are expected to recover after a service-connected injury or disability sometime in the future. Still, knowing whether you are eligible for these benefits as you begin your benefits claim is important.

To be eligible for short-term disability benefits and you had surgery, you must meet both of these requirements:

  • You underwent a surgery that requires a recovery time of at least one month or that includes reports showing that the surgery or treatment was necessary for a service-connected disability
  • Your surgery resulted in at least one severe issue, such as infected surgical wounds, not being able to leave your house, requiring the use of crutches or a wheelchair, or being unable to move because you are put in splints or casts to assist with the healing process

Alternatively, you can be eligible for short-term disability benefits even if you didn’t have surgery. But you must have at least one of your major joints immobilized by a cast. The VA considers this limiting since it prevents your mobility or ability to move objects or work, at least to some extent.

What Do Short-Term Disability Benefits Include?

Should you qualify for the above short-term disability benefits, you could qualify for health care benefits to ensure your recovery. The Veteran will utilize this benefit at a VA-approved medical facility or healthcare center.

However, you may also qualify for added compensation or payments while you recover. The payments are intended to help your finances, as you cannot work while you recover or heal from your injury or illness. 

Furthermore, you may benefit from a 100% temporary disability rating, which may qualify you for 100% disability benefits after your temporary rating expires.

How to Get Short-Term Disability Benefits

You can acquire short-term disability benefits automatically. Suppose you are injured or have an illness while in the military and are hospitalized or require drastic medical intervention. In that case, you will automatically get short-term disability benefits because your military record and file will note the severity of your condition.

The VA will automatically start a file for your disability benefits, and your rating will be applied without any effort on your part. That’s helpful, as many seriously injured Veterans cannot file a disability benefits claim while they recover.

However, your short-term disability benefits may decrease or disappear after you recover somewhat. You must pay attention to your disability ratings, apply for a rating increase, or petition the VA for long-term disability benefits if needed.

How Do Short-Term Disability Benefits Affect Long-Term Disability Benefits?

Your short-term disability benefits don’t directly affect your long-term disability benefits from the VA. However, all the information about your short-term disability rating goes into your VA file. That can inform benefits decisions in the future.

Suppose you are 100% temporarily disabled due to a hospitalization rating because of a serious service-connected injury. As you recover, you retain certain disabling symptoms or conditions that prevent you from obtaining substantially gainful income.

To solve this, you apply for TDIU, as you can only maintain employment for a short time. Normally, it’s difficult for a Veteran to receive TDIU, and they have to provide a lot of evidence to secure a beneficial decision. If your record shows that you were 100% temporarily disabled, the VA may require less convincing that TDIU is appropriate now that you are out of the hospital.

Furthermore, your medical records from being temporarily disabled may assist in proving that you have one or more service-connected conditions in the first place. If you wish to apply for long-term disability benefits, work with Veterans law attorneys and break down the disability rating you received before.

Your chosen law firm can get more information about your previous disability rating, use that information to inform new disability ratings decisions, and provide that critical information to doctors who will record your symptoms and recommend treatments.

Contact Berry Law Today

Short-term VA disability benefits are intended to compensate Veterans who are temporarily and totally disabled due to a service-connected injury or illness. If you qualify for these benefits, you could receive healthcare and a 100% temporary disability rating until your condition improves and you receive necessary medical attention.

If your temporary disability rating disappears or decreases, you may need to file for long-term VA disability benefits. The Veterans law attorneys at Berry Law can help. Our experienced lawyers can help you file a strong claim for benefits and support you through the process from start to finish. 

Contact us today to learn more.

Sources:

Temporary Disability Rating After Surgery Or Cast | Veterans Affairs

Increased Disability Rating For Time In A Hospital | Veterans Affairs

eCFR :: 38 CFR 4.28 — Prestabilization rating from date of discharge from service | ECFR

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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