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California VA Disability Lawyer: Maximize Your Disability Benefits

California is home to more than a million US military veterans. If you are one of them, and you experienced an injury, illness, or a medical condition that began during your service or existed beforehand and your service made it worse, then you may be entitled to receive VA healthcare assistance and disability benefits.

Let us show you how you might qualify for VA benefits in California and how the veterans lawyers at Stone Rose Law can help you qualify for them.

How to Qualify for VA Disability Benefits in California

To be eligible for VA benefits, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a qualified service veteran. The VA defines who a veteran is through criteria like how long you served, the time period of service, and the nature of your service discharge. Generally speaking, as long as you honorably completed your term of service or were medically discharged, you should qualify as a veteran.
  • You must be experiencing a disability. The VA rates disabilities from 0 to 100 percent. To receive monthly disability compensation the VA must rate you as having at least a 10 percent disability. You can still receive some healthcare assistance benefits through the VA with a 0 percent disability rating.
  • Your disability must be service-connected. You must show that something happened to you while you were serving that caused the disability. This is the key factor that the VA will evaluate. Many disability claims are at least initially denied by the VA because of questions about whether the underlying injury, illness, or condition happened during the term of service or was related to what the servicemember was doing while in service.

We will go into more detail about what a service-connected disability is next.

Have You Suffered a Service-Connected Disability?

Sometimes proving your disability has a service connection is easy. 

If during the performance of your duty something happens to you like a training accident, or you are injured in battle, or you are exposed to hazardous substances, then tracing a direct service connection is straightforward.

Other situations can exist, though, that make it less clear whether your disability is a service-connected one.

Latent Conditions

When you begin your military service you might have a latent medical condition that will become disabling later on, but it is not apparent when you swear in. 

If this condition worsens after you leave the service, one question the VA will consider is whether something happened to you while serving that aggravated your pre-existing condition. 

If so, then you may still be eligible for disability benefits even though your service activity was not the original cause of your condition.

Secondary Source Conditions

Another indirect way you can experience a service-connected disability is if it arises from another disability that is service-connected. 

For example, let’s say that you are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after leaving the service based on a traumatic event you experienced while serving. 

You receive treatment including drugs that contribute to significant weight gain as a side effect. 

This additional weight eventually leads to you being diagnosed later with Type 2 Diabetes. 

Even though your diabetic condition arose after your discharge and is not itself a symptom of PTSD, you might still be able to trace a secondary service connection by showing that the PTSD treatment caused your diabetes.

Non-Service-Connected Disabling Events

Another consideration is whether your disability is truly related to your military service. 

If your injury, illness, or disabling condition comes from doing something that has nothing to do with your service obligations, this can lead to a claim denial. 

For example, if you are injured during the commission of a crime, or your injury is the result of an untreated substance abuse behavior, these are activities the VA will consider to have no connection with your service.

As you can see, proving a service connection to your disability is something that the VA considers on a case-by-case basis. Your service medical records will be part of the evidence the VA will consider, along with any records of post-service medical treatment. 

The VA declines many veteran disability claims because the claim lacks enough proof to establish a service connection. 

A VA lawyer, like one of our VA disability attorneys at Stone Rose Law, can assist you in gathering all the documents and other support you need to clear this hurdle. 

Types of VA Disability Benefits You Can Receive in California

If the VA approves of your disability benefits claim, then depending on the nature and extent of your disabilities—most veterans who have service-connected disabilities have more than one—you might qualify for the following kinds of VA assistance:

Monthly disability compensation to you 

These are payments the VA makes to you, the amount of which depends on your combined disability rating.

Spousal and dependent benefits 

If you have a spouse, dependent children, or a parent or both parents who depend on you to take care of them, you can receive additional compensation benefits for them in the form of Special Monthly Compensation for aid and attendance services they perform.

Survivor benefits

In some situations your dependents can continue to receive VA benefits after you pass on, including coverage of burial costs and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for your survivors.

Special circumstance benefits 

There are many kinds of special VA benefits you might be eligible for. 

Depending on your individual needs, you may be able to receive additional VA benefits like compensation if you cannot find or keep substantially gainful employment, or compensation for costs if you need hospital or convalescent care. 

In other situations the VA can provide allowances for transportation and clothing. 

These are only some of the special benefits the VA offers. 

A California veterans disability attorney can help you to learn which ones may apply to you.

Healthcare treatment benefits 

The VA supports veterans with more than just compensation. 

As we mentioned above, even if your disability rating is 0 percent, you can still benefit from other Veterans’ health services the VA offers through the VA healthcare system.

VA Disability Compensation Levels

The VA determines benefit amounts using a combined disability rating, which is calculated with a specific formula. 

These ratings range from 0 to 100 percent disability.

At 0 percent, you will not be eligible for monthly benefits, but you may still qualify for veteran’s healthcare assistance and other benefits. 

As of 2024, the pay rates for VA disability benefits are:

  • 100 percent: $3,737.85
  • 90 percent: $2,241.91
  • 80 percent: $1,995.01
  • 70 percent: $1,716.28
  • 60 percent: $1,361.88
  • 50 percent: $1,075.16
  • 40 percent: $755.28
  • 30 percent: $524.31
  • 20 percent: $338.49
  • 10 percent: $171.23

These amounts increase for disabled veterans with dependents. 

The amount of VA disability benefits that you are eligible to receive depends on your specific circumstances, which you can calculate with our VA Disability Calculator.

One of our California VA disability benefits lawyers can help you prove the extent and degree of your disability to achieve the amount that you need.

What to Do if the VA Denies Your Disability Benefits Claim 

The VA does not approve every veteran’s claim for benefits. Sometimes this is because the claim does not qualify for benefits, like a claim made for a disability with no service connection. 

Other times the veteran’s application may be incomplete or contain errors that force the VA to reject the claim. 

And in some cases, the VA can make a mistake that leads to an initial denial of a claim. 

The average annual VA claim denial rate is about 30 percent. There are things you can do to improve your chances of not being among that unfortunate group, or of getting out of it. 

Here are a couple of them: 

Give the VA a compelling initial claim

A disability claim that is complete, well-organized, meticulously supported with medical records and other evidence, and is free from errors is more likely to avoid denial by the VA in the first place. 

This is one area where engaging the services of a California VA disability law firm like Stone Rose can save you much time and trouble. 

Our VA disability lawyers help veterans like you to prepare their disability claims at no cost to you.

Appeal your claim denial

The VA has an appeals process you can use if your initial claim is denied. 

This process can be complicated, and depending on the circumstances you might opt for a Notice of Disagreement, a Higher Level Review, a Supplemental Claim, or an appeal directly to the VA Board of Veterans Appeals. 

Having a veterans disability law office near you in California can be indispensable to you if you need a VA lawyer to help you make an appeal. 

Do You Need Help with Your California VA Disability Claim?

At Stone Rose Law, we are VA disability advocates for disabled veterans in California. 

Our VA lawyers are dedicated to helping veterans just like you with claims in California to collect all the disability benefits they deserve

We can help you prepare your VA disability claim, monitor your claim status and consult with you before disability examinations—all for free

If your claim is denied, our law firm will assign a California VA disability lawyer to help you pursue an appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals while providing our services on a contingency fee basis. 

This means you won’t pay us unless we win your case. 

Our VA disability lawyers provide affordable, high-quality legal services to many veterans throughout California.

For more information about how a California disability attorney can help you with a VA disability disability compensation claim, request a free consultation at (480) 498-8998. Or, if you prefer, you can reach out to us online to ask a question or set an appointment. 

Our California disability lawyers handle veterans disability claims in California no matter where in the state you live.

There is no reason why you should not receive the service-connected disability benefits you are entitled to, and no reason why you should face the VA alone when applying for them. 

Call us today for a free initial consultation with a California VA disability claim denial lawyer, and get started with your disability claim.