Are you eligible for VA benefits?
- If you are a veteran diagnosed with MS within seven years of your separation from the military, the VA (Veterans Administration) couldl classify your illness as related to your military service and award you a service-connected disability.
- If you separated more than seven years ago, you might still be eligible. You must have a diagnosis by a healthcare provider, preferably a neurologist, who directly links the symptoms you had during those seven years to your current diagnosis.
A crucial part of the process is to have copies of all your medical data and records. Don’t hesitate in collecting this information. It will help your benefits application tremendously. Be sure to include all outside [non-DVA, non-DoD] medical records as well.
To begin the process, call your local Paralyzed Veterans of America service office. You'll need several documents. A PVA service officer will let you know exactly what you need and will help you file your claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Meanwhile, you can and should enroll in your local VA Medical Center. For this you will need a copy of your military discharge (DD Form 214 or equivalent) and VA Form 10-10EZ. Ask for an appointment with the neurology clinic's social worker or the rehab clinic social worker. This person will provide you with essential information, coordinate the details of your care, and can be an invaluable ally for you.
We also suggest that you review and update medical and legal aspects of your life. Keep a journal or notebook of your symptoms, noting duration and severity, and any limitations imposed by your MS. Keep questions for your healthcare providers in the same notebook and take it with you to all medical appointments. This information could help support a case for future rating increases.
Many avenues of assistance and benefits are available for you as a veteran with service-connected MS. We encourage you to contact the PVA. Call 800-424-8200 or visit www.pva.org for more information.
Written by Bill Pack