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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia VA Disability Claim Attorney in South Portland, Maine

Veterans with mental health concerns face an uphill struggle when it comes to obtaining benefits. Many people become entangled in the system for years. Even if the claim is approved, the compensation awarded to the disabled veteran may be insufficient due to the severity of their illness.

You must get help as soon as possible. Many veterans are hesitant to seek mental illness treatment because they fear the stigma that may accompany a diagnosis. Others may not identify the signs and symptoms and only seek therapy if friends or family members persuade them to. The longer it takes for a diagnosis, the more likely the Veterans Administration (VA) would argue that the mental condition is unrelated to service.

You should contact our professional schizophrenia VA disability claim attorney as soon as you are diagnosed with a mental health illness. For years, Jackson & MacNichol has been managing these complicated cases. We can fight the VA for the benefits you deserve.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that impairs a person’s ability to think effectively, manage emotions, make decisions, and interact with others. While this illness affects men and women equally, research suggests that males may experience it sooner.

What Are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

schizophrenia VA disability claim attorneyFor a diagnosis of schizophrenia, symptoms must be present for at least six months in the context of impaired functioning. Symptoms are classified into three groups:

Positive Symptoms

Positive symptoms are psychotic actions that are unusual for the general population. Examples include hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and movement disorders (agitated body movements).

Negative Symptoms

Disruptions in regular emotions and actions are linked to negative symptoms. Flat affect (the inability to communicate feelings through facial expression or voice tone), reduced sense of enjoyment in ordinary life, difficulties starting and maintaining activities, and reduced communication are all examples.

Cognitive Symptoms

Changes in memory or other areas of thinking are examples of cognitive symptoms. Poor executive functioning (the capacity to comprehend information and apply it to make decisions), difficulty focusing or paying attention, and issues with working memory (the ability to use the information immediately after learning it) are just a few examples.

What is the Relationship Between Military Service and Schizophrenia?

Military service is a noble profession, but it is not without flaws. Serving in battle can result in long-term harm. Military life is difficult even if you have never helped in combat. Training missions are meant to mimic battle and, as a result, can cause similar stress and trauma. Even if you did not serve in the military, you might be eligible for VA disability benefits for schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia can be caused by a variety of factors, including your surroundings. Changes in your brain chemistry might result from trauma, leading to mental diseases such as schizophrenia. You may be qualified for VA disability if you were exposed to this trauma or if your mental health symptoms began while serving in the military.

How to Diagnose Schizophrenia?

The diagnosis approach also includes ruling out other mental health illnesses and confirming that the above symptoms are not caused by substance misuse, medicine, or a medical condition. Physical examinations, tests and screenings, and psychiatric evaluations are frequently used.

How to Treat Schizophrenia?

While there is no cure for schizophrenia, treatments aim to alleviate the symptoms. Antipsychotic drugs, psychosocial therapies, and coordinated special care are the most common treatments (an integration of medication, psychosocial therapies, case management, etc.).

Who Qualifies to Receive Veterans Disability Benefits for Schizophrenia?

The Veterans Administration has extremely rigorous rules on who is qualified for Veterans Disability Benefits and who isn’t. The medical evidence of your mental and physical limitations will be required. If a doctor still treats you for psychological and physical disabilities, it may enhance your claim.

Veterans with schizophrenia may be eligible for Veterans Administration disability compensation. You might qualify if your schizophrenia was triggered by military service. If a veteran was diagnosed with schizophrenia before joining the military and their active-duty service exacerbated their condition, they may be eligible for benefits.

Schizophrenia is a life-altering disorder that often prevents veterans from working. Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) payments are available to many veterans with schizophrenia. Veterans who cannot retain or find work due to service-connected impairments are eligible for this monthly pay.

What is the Link of Schizophrenia to Other Health Problems?

Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, alcoholism, bipolar illness, and various other health issues have all been related to schizophrenia. The diseases associated with a veteran’s schizophrenia may be service-connected. As a result, veterans with secondary service-connected disabilities may be eligible for veteran’s disability payments.

Many veterans are unaware that schizophrenia is linked to their other service-related disabilities. They never file for veterans benefits with all their medical issues because they are unaware of the link.

What Are the Monthly Veterans Disability Benefits for Schizophrenia?

The amount you will get from the Veterans Administration each month is determined by the number of disabilities you have. The degree of such disabilities will also be taken into account by the Veterans Administration. A VA disability rating will be awarded to you, which will determine how much you are paid monthly.

The Veterans Administration pays many veterans more than $3,332.06 per month in veterans’ disability compensation. Some veterans are entitled to a lump-sum payment from the VA when they are accepted for VA benefits. Back pay is the term for this type of payout, which can be rather large.

How to Create a Successful VA Disability Appeal for Schizophrenia?

Know that your VA disability appeal for schizophrenia must establish three things to succeed as follows:

Your Diagnosis

You must first demonstrate that you have been diagnosed with a disease. Our skilled schizophrenia VA disability claim attorney will examine your medical records and compile evidence proving you have a diagnosis.

In-Service Event or Onset

You must have been exposed to a traumatic incident (such as a severe training or combat attack), or your mental health symptoms must have started while serving.

Nexus Between Service and Schizophrenia

In addition, your case must show a medical link between your military service and your disease. A medical connection is a declaration by a certified healthcare practitioner that your condition was “at least as likely as not” caused by your military service.

How Veterans Administration Rates Schizophrenia?

Following the veteran’s service connection, VA will give a disability rating based on the severity of the veteran’s schizophrenia. While specific diagnosis codes exist for various mental disorders, all mental health conditions are assessed using the same rating standards.

The VA assigns a diagnosis code of 9411 to schizophrenia. Many elements go into giving ratings, including pharmaceutical therapy, symptoms, and the capacity to work, care for oneself, and maintain social interactions.

VA will issue a disability rating percentage of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 based on the total level of impairment across these criteria. The following are the criteria for each rating:

100 Percent Rating

Veterans who have “complete occupational and social disability” receive this rating. Gross impairment in thought processes or communication, persistent delusions or hallucinations, grossly inappropriate behavior, intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (such as minimal personal hygiene), disorientation to time or place, memory loss for names of close relatives, occupation, or name are all possible symptoms.

70 Percent Rating

Veterans rated at 70 percent have vocational and social impairments and inadequacies in “most” sectors. Symptoms may resemble those stated in the 100 percent criteria listed above. Work, school, family relationships, thinking, and mood may all be affected by the veteran’s impairment. Suicidal thoughts are a possibility for veterans with this rating.

50 Percent Rating

Veterans with occupational and social impairments, notably “lower reliability and productivity,” are given a 50 percent grade. Panic attacks more than once a week, difficulty understanding complex commands, memory loss, impaired judgment, emotional problems, and difficulties establishing and sustaining good work and social relationships are all possible symptoms.

30 Percent Rating

Veterans will undergo occupational and social impairment, including “occasional decreases in job efficiency” and periods of inability to execute occupational duties, to receive the 30% grade. Depressed mood, worry, suspicion, panic attacks, persistent sleep impairment, and minor memory loss are all possible symptoms.

10 Percent Rating

Veterans with occupational and social impairment due to “mild or temporary symptoms” that can reduce job efficiency or capacity to complete occupational duties at stressful times are given a 10% rating.

Zero Percent Rating

The zero percent rating is non-compensable, which means it is not linked to any monetary reward. This rating is still significant because it establishes a service connection for the condition and may assist the veteran in obtaining a higher rating in the future. Veterans with a 0% rating have a diagnosis, but their symptoms aren’t severe enough to interfere with their work or social lives.

What Are the Secondary Conditions Associated With Schizophrenia?

When you can show that a disability is the outcome of a condition that is already service-connected, you can establish a secondary service connection. Providing a nexus opinion that connects your secondary condition to your previously service-connected disability is critical. Several conditions linked to schizophrenia may necessitate secondary service connections or contribute to your overall disability rating. The following are some examples:

Major Depressive Disorder

Veterans with various mental health issues (e.g., schizophrenia and depression) will most likely be assigned a single composite rating because all mental health conditions are evaluated using the same rating criteria. Many people with schizophrenia, however, suffer from depression due to their social isolation and loss of pleasure in everyday life.

Veterans with depression and schizophrenia are not eligible for separate ratings since this is known as pyramiding. When VA assigns a rating, however, the impairment produced by the depression should be considered. Importantly, this could result in a more significant proportion than you would have gotten if it was solely based on your schizophrenia.

Cardiovascular Disease

According to studies, people with schizophrenia are two to three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to increased weight, sadness, and anxiety. You may be able to create a secondary service connection and get additional disability benefits if you are service-connected for schizophrenia and later acquired cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is also three to four times more common in those with schizophrenia. This rise is most likely due to a bad diet and lack of exercise, as well as antipsychotic medicines, which can lead to obesity. In this instance, a secondary service connection may also be necessary.

What If I Was Denied Veterans Disability Benefits for Schizophrenia?

Below are some common reasons why a VA disability claim for schizophrenia gets denied.

VA Mistakes

For various reasons, the Veterans Administration declines schizophrenia VA disability applications. The most prevalent explanation is that while adjudicating the schizophrenia VA disability claim, the VA made a mistake. The VA makes a lot of blunders, which may surprise you.

They routinely dispute unmistakably valid claims. Don’t give up if you were denied veterans disability benefits due to schizophrenia. However, be prepared to endure a lengthy appeals procedure. Many VA disability appeals for schizophrenia will take four to five years. The VA is excruciatingly slow.

Evidence Problems

The veteran did not present enough evidence, which is the second most common reason the VA may deny veterans disability compensation for schizophrenia. You can’t expect the VA to review your Claims File (C-File) and ask for your medical records.

We offer solid, incontrovertible proof, which is one of the reasons our professional schizophrenia VA disability claim attorney has been so successful in schizophrenia VA disability claims

We engage with doctors, psychologists, and vocational specialists to gather reports that are presented with appeals. If you want to get veterans disability benefits for schizophrenia, ensure you provide the VA with the best proof possible.

Service-Connection Issues

A lack of service connection is the third most prevalent reason the VA denies veterans disability payments for schizophrenia. You must demonstrate how your military duty contributed to or exacerbated your schizophrenia. Many veterans with schizophrenia are refused veterans disability payments because they neglected to tell the VA how their disease is related to their service when filed.

Our experienced schizophrenia VA disability claim frequently consults with experts to explain how schizophrenia is linked to our clients’ military service.

You have the right to appeal if you were denied veterans’ disability payments for schizophrenia within the last year. We strongly advise discussing with our schizophrenia VA disability claim attorney before submitting anything to the Veterans Administration. Because appealing can be challenging on your own, you can reapply if your appeal time has expired.

How Do I Appeal the Decision?

Don’t be disappointed if you receive a refusal letter and a rating determination from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Initial claims for veterans’ disability benefits are frequently denied, but you have the right to appeal. You must file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA to appeal.

What to State & Avoid in Your Notice of Disagreement?

Mention that you disagree with all of the decisions in the VA rejection letter and rating decision and that you want to appeal those decisions in your NOD statement.

  • Write notice of disagreement at the top of Form 21-4138 or your letter.
  • Include the date of the denial letter and rating decision.
  • State that you disagree with the denial letter and rating decision.
  • State that you intend to appeal.

Receiving a denial from the VA can be aggravating, and you may feel compelled to explain why you believe the decision is incorrect. But proceed with caution. It’s better not to go into too much detail on why you disagree with the decision in the NOD

If you decide to construct a list of specific judgments you disagree with, be careful to tell the VA that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Declare that your disagreement includes but is not limited to the issues you’ve outlined and that you disagree with all of the conclusions made in the VA rejection letter and rating determination.

What Type of Appeal Should You Choose?

You will be able to appeal to your regional office’s Decision Review Officer (DRO) or the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). Additionally, you have the option of having a DRO analyze your case and make a decision, or you can request a personal hearing with the DRO.

You can still appeal to the BVA if a DRO dismisses your claim. The benefit of requesting a DRO review is that you will get a decision much faster. The drawback is that if the DRO’s judgment is not changed, you will have extended the period you must wait for a BVA review.

The DRO review, on the other hand, allows you a second chance to appeal the judgment.

Where to File the Notice of Disagreement?

Ensure that you sign the NOD and retain a copy for your records. Unless you’ve been advised your file has been relocated to a different office, file the NOD at the regional VA office that sent you the denial notice. Send it certified mail with a return receipt required so that you can prove you fulfilled the deadline.

What Happens Next After You File the Notice of Disagreement?

Decision Review Officer (DRO)

If you ask for a DRO review, the VA will ask you for more details about the issues you want the DRO to look into. If you requested a DRO hearing, it would be scheduled once the additional information is received.

You will receive a SOC if the DRO dismisses your claim, and you will need to file VA Form 9 to continue your appeal to the BVA. To submit a formal appeal (although more time may be allowed if good cause is shown), you have 60 days from the date the Statement of the Case was mailed.

The advantages sought must be identified in the appeal and the precise accusation of factual or legal mistake in the case.

Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)

If you file a BVA appeal, the VA will create and provide you with a summary of the decision to reject your benefits. When you obtain this summary, known as a statement of the case (SOC), you have 60 days from the date on the SOC to file your real appeal with the BVA. To file a BVA appeal, you must complete VA Form 9, Appeal to Board of Veterans Appeals.

Following a hearing with a BVA Board member, the Board member will decide whether to grant or refuse the sought benefits or remand the case back to the local VA office to gather more information that will aid in the resolution of the case.

If the Board member denies your appeal, you have the option to accept the decision, reopen a new request with the local VA office, appeal the decision back to the Board if the Board made a clear and unmistakable error, ask the Board to vacate or reconsider its decision in writing or file an appeal with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

You must file a Notice of Appeal to the Court within 120 days after the Board decides to appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Knowing When to File a VA Disability Claim is Crucial

You may be dealing with an ailment that prevents you from working. It may be in your best interests to contact our experienced schizophrenia VA disability claim attorney as soon as possible so that you are prepared to file your disability claim when the time comes.

If you have any questions about a VA disability claim for schizophrenia, please call our disability attorney in South Portland, Maine. For a free consultation, give us a call.

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