Those who serve in the military have an elevated risk for a brain injury when compared with the general public. They can suffer traumatic blows to their head during training or the performance of their jobs. They could also experience violent percussive force if they encounter an explosion that could also cause damage to their brain.
Currently, at least 185,000 veterans depend on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover or provide treatment for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). There are many others who do not get benefits, as roughly 414,000 veterans had one or more TBIs reported between 2000 and 2019.
Despite the high number of veterans with brain injuries, the VA still routinely denies or delays benefit requests from those who report a TBI. How can you get disability benefits for a brain injury that you believe is a result of your military service?
You need medical documentation
Obviously, if you want treatment or disability benefits from the VA, you need to have convincing evidence of a medical issue. Documenting a TBI can be difficult, especially if you don't currently have access to cutting-edge medical care.
Any medical records that help establish a brain injury, from imaging tests to hospitalization reports, can help you build a claim and prepare for an appeal if the VA has already denied you benefits. You may also need documentation from your employer or from those who help support you in your daily life because of the limitations caused by your brain injury.
You need to connect your brain injury with your service
People don't always realize that they have suffered a TBI right after it occurs. Some people may not present any major symptoms for months. Others may only notice those symptoms when they eventually return to civilian life.
Those who reported a specific traumatic accident while serving in the military, whether they fell off of a fence or were in close proximity to an explosion, will likely have official military records to help their case. Others may need to provide their own records that help explain how they suffered a brain injury in the military.
These cases can take years to resolve and require both an understanding of how the VA processes benefit requests and the medical side of the application. Fighting back when the VA denies your benefit request can help you support yourself and the people you love despite your service-related injuries.