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Expanding Benefits for Traumatic Brain Injury

The office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs announced on December 16, 2013, that they will be expanding benefits for veterans who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This new regulation went into effect last week (January 15, 2014). The regulation was expanded because of a report created by the National Academy of Sciences in which it was shown that there is a strong association between TVI and five diagnosable illnesses. These illnesses include Parkinson’s disease, dementia, depression, unprovoked seizures and certain diseases of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.

This report found sufficient evidence to link moderate or severe levels of TBI with the five illnesses. This new regulation says that if a veteran has a service-connected TBI and also has one of the five illnesses, their second illness will be also be deemed service-connected. The reason this change is significant is that illnesses that are related to the TBI will now be calculated for Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation and given a rating. This means that individuals who are dealing with these circumstances will be compensated.

To obtain VA disability benefits, you must suffer from a disability that is the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered to be related to disabilities that occurred during service, even though they may arise subsequently. This means that if the VA has previously found your TBI to be service-connected and you are diagnosed with one of the five illnesses mentioned above, your secondary diagnosis will be deemed to be service-connected as well. The rating the VA gives to your disability will then be increased to reflect a percentage of how disabling it is to you. At this point, you will need to request an increase for your existing rating to account for this new secondary service-connected illness. Contact an attorney in this field who can help you request an increase in your VA rating and answer any questions you may have regarding the process.

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