Making the Best of your Service Connection Rating
For smaller mobility adaptations the vehicle can be older. The VA and your Mobility Dealership Representative should be able to work with you to find a used vehicle within your budget. Frequently it is hard to finance a wheelchair van from your own bank or credit union. But if the VA pays for the equipment or conversion, you should be able to go to your financial institution and have the balance approved. For some of you; bad credit or lack of credit is an obstacle. If that is the case, don’t throw in the towel. At MITS of Virginia, we will follow any possible path to make it happen for Veterans.
Many of you Veterans have added disability pension coming and just don’t know access it. Those established as “Service Connected” usually know it is in your wisdom to be re-evaluated regularly to see if you qualify for added pension. However, “Non-Service Connected” Veterans are often unaware that you can be evaluated to begin receiving a disability pension, despite any prior evaluation. If you find that a mental or physical impairment has come to you over time, you should be re-evaluated to see what the VA can offer. Once you establish a disability pension, I would advise that you also file a retroactive claim. The retroactive payments could be just as substantial as your future added pension. As you are being re-evaluated, make sure you question the status of service connected disability for “Loss of Limb Use” since this will directly impact your transportation benefits.
For some, the hardest part of getting disability pension may be the initial call to the local veteran‘s advocate. Several people have asked me what they need to do to get their VA rating changed to receive added benefit. I like this question because veterans who stay on top of their rating decision get both added disability pension and added medical equipment/modifications.
To change your rating, you will make a statement on Form 21-4138 as to why your rating should be changed. This form can be downloaded online or you can request the form by calling 800-827-1000. The VA website says to send this form in to the regional office yourself. I recommend that you do not personally send this form in but that you have your VA Primary Care Physician send it along with his evaluation and the evaluations of any of your other doctors that can help. If you can, get your doctor to actually write up the 21-4138 form. If he wants you to do it, you will at least want to get advice on what should be written to get your desired result.
There is always the possibility your VA Primary Care Physician may not agree with changing your rating. In this case, there are some very effective groups both inside the VA System and Outside the VA System that help with improving and taking advantage of benefits not yet provided to you. Inside the VA System The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) and the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance (WV DVA) are independent state agencies that support veterans and their families. The WV DVA and VDVS do an excellent job providing information about Pension and Benefits. They advocate for you so that you can claim what is rightfully yours.
There are 23 VDVS Offices and 16 WV DVA Offices. To find the one closest to you, just go to their websites, http://www.dvs.virginia.gov and http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits/west-virginia-state-veterans-benefits.html