In Brittany’s Words (Veteran Seeking Benefits)

I have lupus. It’s gotten so bad that I can’t keep a job. I would get sick from different medications and chemo. Things in my body just started going wrong. I had a problem with my right shoulder and it got to the point where I couldn’t do anything.

I went to the VA office to file for Individual Unemployability. But even with me being in the military and familiar with the procedures of applying I couldn’t get the VA to grant me 100 percent disability. They said I didn’t qualify. Their screening doctors said I was fine and I could work.  I got 60 percent. It was unbelievable to me.  Even though I can’t do anything and I can’t work.

I felt the people at the VA weren’t trying to help me. It was an awful experience. I thought that even if they didn’t grant me total disability they could up my percentage some. I felt discouraged.

Then I saw this commercial on TV about Freedom Disability to help people apply for Social Security disability benefits. I decided to take a look at their Web site and that’s when I saw that they had another company, Alpha, that helps veterans with disabilities. I thought, why not, I’ll contact them online and see what happens.  I got a call from Lauren the very next day. She was great to talk to. There was no run around. She was on it. I didn’t have to do anything. She did it all for me. It was a wonderful experience.

Seriously, when I got the letter from the VA in the mail that I got total disability I thought, oh my god, did I read it wrong? It didn’t even take that long. I would recommend Alpha to anybody. I’m just so pleased with what my Alpha advocate did for me, and so happy to get that check every month.

More from Lauren (Veterans Advocate at Alpha)

Brittany is a 29-year-old single mom and an Army veteran. She had served from 2000-2004 and then joined the National Guard to serve out her Independent Reserves status. In 2006 she was activated to participate in a training school for three weeks. While on active duty status she was diagnosed with lupus, which is a debilitating chronic autoimmune disease that is incurable. The disease attacks tissues in the body.  Brittany is being treated with chemotherapy and heavy doses of steroids. These treatments have diminished her bone strength. Her right shoulder required replacement surgery because of bone deterioration. The severity of lupus and the effects of treatment to keep her symptoms under control have made it impossible for her to work.

She had applied on her own to the VA for total disability based on Individual Unemployability but was granted only a 60 percent rating. She came to Alpha to appeal the decision because she believed that she should have been rated at 100 percent.  She was unsuccessful in getting the VA to increase her disability rating on her own, even though she had not been able to work for several years. She lives with her mother because she needs the help caring for her own daughter and managing her illness.  My theory is that the VA tends to be conservative on disability ratings. In analyzing Brittany’s case I felt that the VA had not considered the frequency of her treatment and its residual effects to her body.  I cited the VA’s regulation on lupus and explained that Brittany’s medical history and frequency of treatment was proof enough to support a 100 percent evaluation.

We won Brittany a permanent and total 100 percent disability rating and got her a sizable retroactive payment.  My advice to fellow veterans who have received disability ratings from the VA is to carefully review the rationale behind the rating. Did the VA consider all evidence submitted? Did the VA consider their quality of life or whether or not they can hold a job?

If you are a disabled veteran and have any doubt at all about your disability rating, please contact Alpha so that we can help you appeal for an increased rating, like we did for Brittany. – Lauren, Alpha Advocate

Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.