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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I file a claim?
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has many benefits available for veterans, the Veteran Service Representatives at the Santa Clara County Veterans Service Office can help veterans assess if completing a claim is beneficial. These county employees are trained to look and understand Service Treatment Records (STR) and propose questions to help veterans to make an educated decision if they want to submit a claim. ​

My military records are missing, what can I do?
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Veteran’s military records are held in various locations and often can be reconstructed as well. Our Veteran Service Representatives (VSR) are available to advise veterans as to the best way to get the military records available. ​​

My friend has the same medical condition I do, but he/she received a higher rating. Why?
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The VA Rating Scale is based on how a disability affects each individual and the symptoms specific to that person. When the VA adjudicates a veterans claim in the form of a rating decision, it states why that individual is rated at such level and what the next higher rating level is. Veterans must be sure that they read these rating decisions and understand them. Our Veteran Service Representatives (VSR) are able to assist in understanding these ratings and advise of possible options. ​

My claim was denied. Should I appeal immediately?
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If a claim is denied, there are options to appeal, but these options need to be addressed with an understanding of why the appeal was denied and addressed with reasoning and with new and relevant evidence. The Veteran Service Representatives should be consulted to help understand these options and what veterans can do to help their claims be more successful. ​

How long will my claim take to process?
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The claims process varies based on the type of claim. The process involves gathering military and civilian medical records to be reviewed by the Veteran Service Representative (VSR) and the veteran prior to claim submission. Once the veteran decides on claims desired, they work with our VSRs to complete the claim forms and submit to the VA. The VA then conducts Compensation and Pension (C&P) examinations which are then given to the VA Claims Adjudicators to make a decision. This process can vary greatly depending on the number of claims and how quickly the veteran produces documentation. On average the process takes about one year.

What will my VA Disability rating be?
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) makes the decisions on claims and determines the level of disability. The decision is articulated to veterans through a rating decision provided to the veteran. Each rating is specific to the veteran’s claim and cannot be forecasted by Santa Clara County Veterans Service Representatives (VSR). The VSRs are available to help explain rating decisions to veterans. ​

The VA is proposing a reduction in my disability rating / compensation. What should I do?
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It is always best to discuss proposals of reduction with a Veteran Service Representative (VSR) in order to understand why and to be advised on what is the criteria being considered for the proposed reduction. It is important to act on this prior to your Compensation and Pension examination. ​

My claim has been granted. Does this mean my interaction with the VSO is done?
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No, it is highly encouraged that veterans continue to meet with a Veteran Service Representative regarding the decision in order to fully understand the why it was granted, the level it was granted, as well as to understand secondary service connected disabilities and any ancillary benefits due to the rating.

My VA Claim was granted but now my retirement pay has been reduced. Why?
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There are federal laws regarding receiving Retirement Pay and Service-Connected Disability Compensation. If this has happened to you, it is advised that you meet with a Veteran Service Representative and discuss options such as CRSC and CRDP, which are federal programs, allowing receipt of both benefits based on different criteria.

I received an “other than honorable” discharge. Am I ineligible for VA benefits?
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Other than honorable discharges does not make you ineligible for all benefits but could make you ineligible for some. Discharge upgrades are also an option but are very difficult and time consuming by the veteran. A Veteran Service Representative may assist you with discussing options related to the types of discharges.

I don’t reside in Santa Clara County. Can you still assist me?
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The Santa Clara County Veteran Service Office is funded by Santa Clara County taxes and thus is here to assist residents of the county. Our office does do our best to work with non-county residents on a case by case basis. Different counties may have different benefits for their veterans and thus it is suggested to work with the Veteran Service Office in your county of residence.

I want to file a claim for my father, mother, grandpa, uncle, etc. Can you help me?
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Claims cannot be submitted for other people unless there is proof that the veteran is allowing it. Dependents of deceased veterans may be able to do claims based on a veteran’s service, but these claims are for the dependent. Discussing options with a Veteran Service Representative is advised.

Last updated: 7/29/2020 4:10 PM