'Persistence Pays When Filing A VA Disability Claim', Author Says In Interview With LawyersandSettlements.com

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Veteran-turned advocate and author stresses the importance of doing your homework, seeking a good veterans' disability attorney and due diligence as key building blocks of a successful disability application – or appeal – with Veterans Affairs. In an interview with LawyersandSettlements.com on January 25, 2015, Jon Macintosh explains why veterans encounter delays, and how applicants can weather the storm.

According to VA Claims Inventory figures released by the US Department of Veterans Affairs*, there were more than a half-million pending claims on the books and in various stages of the claims process as of January 24th, 2015. The claims inventory data indicated no fewer than 510,023 claims were at play as of that date. That number, according to the VA, is down from 883,930 identified as pending as at July 13th, 2012.*

The Claims Backlog also appears to be improving, according to a subset of the VBA Claims Inventory. Described as claims that have been awaiting a rating decision for more than 125 days since receipt, there were 252,331 as of January 24th of this year compared with 611,073 as at March 25th, 2013. **

In spite of the apparent improvements, Jon Macintosh describes the VA as “essentially an insurance company modeled after big insurance companies and that’s just how they operate,” Macintosh tells Online Legal Media’s Brenda Craig in his recent interview (1/25/15).

Thus his book, which Macintosh describes as a field manual for any individual in need of pursuing a disability claim with the VA. The author, a former Army Ranger and himself a disabled veteran, offers sage advice in ‘VA Disability Claim,’ which runs 134 pages.

Given his military background, Macintosh can be forgiven for referencing the advice he dispenses in his book as ‘intel.’ And it begins when the claimant first puts on the uniform, he says, advising service members to keep diligent records of everything and to avoid “just sucking it up” when an injury happens while in the service. Rather, Macintosh states, the injured service man or woman should report and document everything that happened.

“Eventually, in four years, or eight years, or 20 years, you are going to get out of the service and you may find yourself dealing with a whole new beast,” says Macintosh, who served with the US Army Airborne Rangers. “I think it is important for young kids, young men and women that go into the military to know what their options are. If you don’t know who to talk to or what questions to ask, you will lose.”

His book serves as a step-by-step guide. And while he details how to gather and file the necessary paperwork, Macintosh advocates approaching a VA-accredited attorney for additional guidance, and to steer the application.

“Every VA-accredited attorney that I have spoken to works on a contingency basis,” said Macintosh, in his interview with LawyersandSettlements.com. “Most of them will charge no more than 20 percent of the total award the vet receives from the VA. However, if you consult an attorney before the appeal process just to fill out the forms and submit the right information as my book shows you how, then you will have to pay an attorney up front.”

Macintosh conducted 20 years of research and interviewed no fewer than 2,000 veterans for a book he typifies as a “practical, step-by-step field manual” for service men and women pursuing a meritorious claim with the VA. Insights include the importance of a veteran’s range of motion (ROM), which according to the author remains “the most important criterion the VA uses when assigning a disability rating.”

The author advocates approaching a claim with good and thorough documentation, patience, a clear head and a good VA-accredited attorney conversant with the various nuances and complexities involved. After which, “just forget about the whole process. Do the best you can in the time you have, file the best and most accurate claim possible. Then get on with life. Ride your Harley. You can’t get angry at the VA, but what you can do is arm yourself with the best information.”

*Compensation and Pension Rating Bundle Totals, Veterans Benefits Administration Reports: Inventory, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, January 24th, 2015, http://benefits.va.gov/reports/mmwr_va_claims_inventory.asp
** Compensation and Pension Rating Bundle Totals, Veterans Benefits Administration Reports: Claims Backlog, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, January 24th, 2015, http://benefits.va.gov/reports/mmwr_va_claims_backlog.asp

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