What You Need to Know about VA Disability When Transitioning Out of the Military

What You Need to Know about VA Disability When Transitioning Out of the Military

Leaving military service and transitioning to civilian life can be one of the biggest challenges you and your family face. There are many practical considerations, such as where to live, what education or career to pursue, and what VA benefits and services you qualify for

Preparing for Transition/Retirement

To help active-duty service members, National Guard, Reservists, and spouses of service members separating or retiring from the military navigate this process, the Veterans Employment and Training Service, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Veterans Administration created the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). 

Servicemembers may initiate the TAP process 24 months before retirement. You must begin the TAP process and complete the mandatory Pre-Separation Counseling no later than 365 days before your effective retirement date. 

The VA portion of TAP is a one-day, in-person course called VA Benefits and Services. It helps you understand how to navigate the VA and the benefits and services you earned through your military career. This includes family support, disability compensation, education, and health care benefits. 

Resources for Transitioning out of the Military

Another important part of TAP is getting connected to the resources that give you the best opportunity for success in the civilian world. Whether your plan includes a direct path to the workforce or if you are considering furthering your education, the Transition Assistance Program has excellent resources.

All the services have excellent programs for assisting service men and women with their transition. The Army and the Marines have gone above and beyond with their programs Soldier for Life and Marine for Life.

Once you are home, connect with your local Veterans Hospital to put your name on applicable registries, such as the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. You should also connect with your County Veterans Service Officer to file any claims you did not file during your transition. Your CVSO has a wealth of knowledge for State and local benefits specific to their area.

Lastly, once home, investigate your local and state Veteran’s Service Organizations. These hometown connections can really ease the transition for you and your family, especially for those with no close family.

A good VSO can connect you with resources and people who have been in your position and understand what you are experiencing. Thousands of organizations nationwide make it their mission to help Veterans and their families.

Find one that fits you:

Documenting your Health Conditions

This is an excellent time for the transitioning service members to start reviewing their medical treatment records in preparation for filling their initial service-connected VA claims. Discuss any medical issues you did not address during your active duty, including any mental health symptoms you may have.

Often, military personnel hold to the warrior culture of the military and avoid medical treatment for fear of being labeled as weak. Now is the time to get medical attention if you need it.

If you sustained any injuries while in service or if any preexisting conditions were exacerbated, it is extremely important to ensure these incidents and/or injuries were properly annotated in your service record book and your medical records. You need to take this step if you want to apply for VA disability benefits or compensation. Once you leave service, properly documenting these issues grows much more difficult.

Get statements from anyone from your unit who witnessed the event or injury that caused your disability. Sometimes, finding your buddies five years after service can present challenges.

Who is Eligible for VA Disability

To be eligible for VA disability benefits or compensation, you must have:

  • Served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training


  • A current illness or injury that affects your mind or body

And at least one of the following must be true:

  • You became sick or were injured while serving in the military and can link this condition to your illness or injury (in-service disability claim)


  • You became sick or injured before you joined the military, and serving made your condition worse (pre-service disability claim)


  • You have a disability related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service (post-service disability claim)

Some conditions the VA automatically assumes were caused by your time in service. If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t have to prove that your service caused the condition to receive VA disability benefits. You only have to meet the service requirements for the presumption. 

What Conditions are Covered by VA Benefits?

Conditions that VA disability covers include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic back pain from a current back disability
  • Breathing problems from a current lung condition or lung disease
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Scar tissue
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Ulcers
  • Cancers or other conditions caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or other dangers
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental or physical health conditions related to military sexual trauma (MST)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Filing a VA Disability Claim

Filing a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs can be complex and challenging. You must provide thorough documentation and evidence to support your claim, including medical and service records.

In some cases, you’ll need to undergo a medical exam. When filing VA claims, the primary challenge is proving a causal relationship between a current medical or health condition and your military service. Don’t let the VA discourage you if it denies your claim or gives you a lower disability rating than you think you deserve. 

The VA disability lawyers at Berry Law are accredited by the VA to represent Veterans seeking disability compensation. We handle claims and appeals, and have successfully obtained benefits for thousands of Veterans across the country. We can help you, too. 

Berry Law – America’s Veterans Law Firm

Upon review of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ratings for your service-connected disabilities, if any of your issues were denied or if you feel like you received an evaluation that you do not agree with, please contact us at Berry Law. Berry Law is your support team to battle the VA, and we will not stop fighting until every Veteran receives all the disability benefits they earned.
Why? Well, Berry Law was founded by a Vietnam Veteran and features attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Most of us are Veterans, and we are committed to helping fellow Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you need assistance with your VA claim, contact Berry Law today.

John S. Berry, , Attorney for Veterans Disability
John S. Berry, , VA Disaility Lawyer
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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