While Veterans are in the service, they are susceptible to several different factors that can cause disabilities.
One such risk that Veterans are susceptible to is concussions. Concussions can happen on various occasions, whether from performing tasks, active combat, or other scenarios.
Many Veterans go unaware of the benefits they may be entitled to if they have lasting issues from a concussion. To make a claim, they should know some details that go into the process to avoid missing any critical steps.
Thankfully, the Department of Veterans Affairs gives benefits for various forms of concussions. This article will break down how to make a claim for head injuries and the different disability ratings that the VA provides.
A concussion is a specific form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Anything from a bump, blow, or hit to the head that causes the brain to move back and forth rapidly can cause a concussion.
Different medical professionals will vary how serious they consider concussions to be. Because not all concussions are life-threatening, some will consider concussions mild. However, they should not be thought of as mild.
Concussions can cause serious damage to the brain and produce negative health effects for Veterans.
Concussions can stretch, damage, or even cause chemical changes in the brain.
Veterans may be unaware that they have a concussion after they experience a blow to the head. If a Veteran experiences a heavy hit to the head, they should have it checked by a medical professional.
A doctor will be able to diagnose whether or not a concussion occurred. It is especially important to have this documented while the Veteran is still in the military. If they then make a claim for TBI, they will use this evidence for an in-service connection, one of the most important parts of a disability claim.
Symptoms of a concussion may not occur immediately after it has occurred. It varies from when symptoms begin. Some may begin very soon. Others may take time to develop.
Symptoms will also vary in how long they last. There are some instances where the symptoms do not last long, while there are other cases where the symptoms can last for years.
Here are some of the common symptoms of a concussion:
At any moment of a head injury, a Veteran should see a doctor immediately. Even if there are no present signs of an emergency, it is vital that a Veteran checks to see whether or not they have a concussion.
It is important for those who are close to a Veteran to be able to recognize signs of a concussion. If you know a Veteran that recently experienced a head injury, watch out for these symptoms:
Friends or family of a Veteran should reach out to a medical professional if they witness any signs that may be symptoms of a concussion.
Over the past years, the VA has been more vigilant in keeping track of the number of TBIs in Veterans.
Between 2000 and 2019, there were over 414,000 cases of TBI reported amongst service members. Of all of the Veterans that use the VA for their health care, around 185,000 experienced TBI.
Concussions in the VA are considered a mild form of TBIs, known as mTBI. Because concussions are milder than other forms of TBI, they can be more difficult to identify amongst Veterans.
There are often no noticeable signs of head injury, even with scans, on the Veteran. Some of the symptoms are also similar to other mental health conditions, such as PTSD.
Medical professionals often refer to TBI as an “invisible illness” because it goes unnoticed. Those who suffer from mTBI or TBI may not even be aware that they experienced head trauma.
Though many Veterans find that their symptoms are resolved within days or weeks, some might require extensive treatment.
Those who found that their symptoms persisted over a long period likely did not get treatment immediately after the concussion. They also might have experienced successive concussions.
Treatment can consist of a mix of techniques, such as medication and occupational therapy.
No matter how serious the head trauma is, a Veteran must seek out a medical professional to see if they need any immediate treatment. If they do not find the help they need, even if they feel they do not need it, symptoms could worsen over time.
Veterans who experience TBI both within and outside of combat are eligible for benefits through the VA. Though it is more common for Veterans to suffer from TBI because of events during combat, many suffer from it because of events outside of combat.
For a Veteran to receive benefits from the VA, they will have to make a successful service connection with their claim.
They will have to show that the TBI or concussion occurred because of something that happened during their time in the service.
If they cannot, then the VA will not grant them their claim.
To prove a service connection, the Veteran will have to provide evidence that shows three things:
If any of these components are missing from a Veteran’s claim, they will be unable to make a service connection.
So that this does not happen, a Veteran should consult with an experienced attorney. Many Veterans are unfamiliar with the VA. Because of that, they do not always know the ins and outs of the VA’s requirements.
An experienced attorney, such as one at Berry Law, will be able to make sure that a Veteran has all the necessary components for a claim.
Acquiring a disability rating from the VA for TBI differs from other disability claims.
The VA recognizes ten facets of TBI that are residual effects. The residual effects are usually classified as neurological or subjective symptoms. From these ten facets, the VA will determine, from the evidence, the severity of a Veteran’s symptoms.
Here are the ten facets of TBI residuals and a description of each:
The severity is determined by a point system, either 0, 1, 2, 3, or total severity.
From each number, the VA will assign a disability rating. For a severity of 0, the disability rating is 0%. For a severity of 1, the rating is 10%, and for a severity of 2, the rating is 40%. For a severity of 3, the rating is 70%, and for a total severity, the rating is 100%.
A Veteran’s benefits from the VA will increase if they have a higher disability rating.
There are moments that though a Veteran has made a successful service connection with their TBI, the VA will not give them any benefits because the symptoms are not that severe, and they have healed over time.
However, if the symptoms affect a Veteran’s daily life, such as their ability to work and interact with others, they will be able to get more compensation.
Any Veteran who suffers from a concussion because of an event or injury during their time in the service should seek treatment and benefits from the VA.
If a Veteran does not seek immediate treatment for their concussion or TBI, the effects can be degenerative. Even in the mildest cases, they should not go untreated. Seek out a medical professional no matter what.
Though the disability rating for TBI is different than other disability ratings, a Veteran who has suffered from TBI, whether from combat or not, can be eligible for benefits.
For more information on VA benefits and claims, visit our website.
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