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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

List of the 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I apply for disability compensation benefits?

You can apply on your own at the VA Web site, but keep in mind that the application process is very complicated. Without expert help you could face months, maybe years, before winning the level of benefits you deserve.  

What does service connection mean?

Service connection means that a chronic disability arose coincidental with military service. It is important to establish that your injury or illness is service-connected if you want disability compensation from the VA.

How long does it take for the VA to make a decision on my case?

On average, it takes six to seven months to get an initial decision on an original or reopened claim. If you receive what you believe to be a fully favorable decision, check the effective date of the award and the percentage of disability assigned. If you disagree with the decision, or if you are denied, you should appeal for more benefits. Without quality representation it could take as long as three to five years to get the benefits you deserve.

If my case is approved, when will I start receiving benefits?

Generally, the effective date for receiving benefits is aligned with either the date of the claim or the date that medical diagnosis confirmed entitlement, whichever is later. There are some exceptions to the general rule. If an original claim is submitted within a year of military separation or within a year from a change in law (i.e. a disease is recognized as service-connected) the benefits may be awarded as early as the date of the claim following separation or the date of the change in law. Also, what constitutes a “claim” is sometimes debatable. A qualified veterans’ disability advocate can review your unique circumstances to help you determine whether the effective date awarded is consistent with governing law.

Can I work while receiving disability compensation?

Yes, you can work and also receive compensation benefits for your service-connected disability. In fact, the VA provides vocational rehabilitation training to help veterans get back into the workforce.

Can I receive Social Security disability benefits and disability compensation benefits at the same time?

Yes, you can receive Social Security disability insurance as well as your VA service-connected compensation benefits. If you need help in applying for SSDI, contact Freedom Disability to help you get started on your claim.

How much compensation will I get if I am unable to work?

If you are unable to work because of your service-connected disability you will be found totally disabled. The VA rates disabilities from 0 to 100 percent and even higher for severely service-connected disabled veterans. The rate for a veteran with no dependents found to be entitled to the 100 percent rate is $2,673 per month.

If my disability gets worse, can I get more compensation?

Yes. You will have to resubmit an application for more benefits and be able to explain how your disability has worsened. Alpha Advocates has the expertise and experience to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Why should I get a representative such as Alpha to help me apply for disability compensation?

It can take months and, in many cases, years, to win the level of disability compensation you deserve. Very often it takes this long because of poor case development. Alpha Advocates have had specialized training in veterans disability advocacy. We are accredited through the VA Office of General Counsel. We are, for the most part, disabled veterans. We understand the process.  We know how to win a case sooner, and we know how to get the highest level of compensation possible for our fellow veterans.

What is the cost for representation services?

There is no cost to you for our services unless we win your case or have increased your benefits through the appeal process. We receive a one-time-only fee, which is 20 percent of the retroactive payment the VA owes you in benefits. The Advocate’s fee is subject to review by the VA’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC). The VA/OGC generally considers a fee of 20% of the retroactive award as a reasonable payment and we agree. Subject to the review of the OGC, and only if we win an appeal, your Alpha Advocate will be paid a one time fee of 20% of your retroactive award.

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.


126 comments to “FAQ”

  • Alpha, August 14, 2012 at 11:38 am


    Generally within 6 months or so from the completion of the MEB. When you the PEB provides a preliminary decision, you will have an opportunity to challenge it. To minimize “getting screwed over” you should seek quality counsel through the Navy Legal Service Office. At this time, Alpha does not offer assistance with the separation process; however, if you are not satisfied with the VA’s rating upon your actual separation, we can assist in getting you the most in VA compensation benefits. BTW: You generally keep your uniforms.

  • Robert, September 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Question. What is Eligibility Determination?
    I have no idea what this means, from the eBenefits Portal, as oppose to the actual Compensation claim, which is still in review:

    Details of Your Claim
    Claim Received: 06/17/2011
    Claim Type: Eligibility Determination
    Claim Closed: 07/24/2012

    Next Steps:
    Your claim is complete. A letter will be sent to you via U.S. mail formally documenting the completion of your claim. Please allow standard delivery time prior to contacting the VA call center.

  • Alpha, September 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm


    Eligibility determination is a vague term, meaning that whatever benefit you’ve applied for the VA has determined whether you are eligible and is in the process of notifying you. It literally means nothing without context of knowing what benefit you applied for, what type of discharge you have, and whether you’ve applied for an ancillary benefits. Given that the VA indicates a letter is on the way, I recommend waiting for that letter.

  • HOW TO TRACK A CLAIM THAT IS ALREADY FILED?, October 6, 2012 at 12:26 am

    All I need to do is be able to to track a claim online. What could be so hard about that and yet it is.

  • Evy, October 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Answer to How to track a claim:
    Just go to ebenefits.gov…log in or if you do not have a logon, just register with the same name you used for DEERS and then you can see al of your beneftis information to include your submitted claims and ongoing process.

  • Paul Wilson, October 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Is Prostate Cancer included in Agent Orange disabilities?

  • Alpha, October 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm


    Yes, Prostate Cancer is known to be linked to Agent Orange.

  • Robert Culpepper, December 10, 2012 at 3:29 am

    I haven’t heard anything from my rep. in a long time. Is that normal? I read in some of the posts that the people said that they were getting e-mails from their alpha reps of updates.Does this mean that nothing is going on with my appeal? I am tired of being in the dark. I am nearing the end of my SSDI process and it took about two years. Looking back, I think that I should have used the same company that did my SS to work my VA appeal.

  • Alpha, December 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm


    I have asked our director to have your Alpha advocate to contact you. I’m sorry for the long wait, but I promise you that you are in good hands with Alpha. If you haven’t heard from anyone by the end of the day tomorrow, please contact me at sbalsamo@freedomdisability.com. Good luck.

  • greg stokes, December 27, 2012 at 7:17 am

    I am currently rated at 60% disability overall and just received permanent disability payments from Dept of Labor Judge for my 2010 work related injury case in Iraq. Am going to receive $2499 bi weekly for life.
    My question, is can I also get an increase in VA disability with submission of judgement? I can no longer work doing personal security contracting, my chosen profession.

  • Alpha, January 2, 2013 at 10:16 am


    Alpha may be able to assist you. I recommend speaking to one of our Elgibily Consultants. They will ask you a few questions about your time in the services and determine your eligibility for additional VA Benefits. I hope you will give them a call at (877) 611-7724. Good Luck.

  • Paulette Crampton, January 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I need a doctor that will see me and based on findings write a Nexus letter on my behalf. I have a back condition that occurred after my foot surgery was done while on active duty in 1976. How can I prove my back condition is secondary to the surgery.

  • Joe, March 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I keep getting denied for a Chronic Cough i have since 2004 when i was in Iraq. Va keeps running different tests and telling me its allergies which is a lie. I keep submitting for it but get denied stating that I need new evidence. Can you make this happen?

  • Alpha, March 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm


    We might be able to assist. The only way for us to determine if we can is if you talk to one of our Eligibility Consultants. They will ask you a few questions about your time in the services and determine your eligibility for VA Benefits. If we can help, we will. I hope you will give us a call at (877) 611-7724.

  • Ruben, April 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I have filed for prostate cancer, ptsd, tinnitus, and HTN. I was informed prostate cancer is linked to agent orange in Vietnam. Im a Vietnam veteran. I had asked my vet about fully developed claim for prostate cancer as Im currently receiving hormone shots for the last two years. He said not possible because I have other conditions listed. Can I then retract the other 3 to get my claim going. Its my understand if you are getting treated during prostate cancer that’s 100% rating. If I wait 2 years from now I might not be getting hormone shots, and my rating would go down right?

  • Alpha, April 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm


    I would not recommend dropping PTSD, Tinnitus and HTN if you have a diagnosis for each. At this point I don’t believe your claim would move any faster. If you are no longer receiving treatment for prostate cancer when a decision is made you will receive retroactive benefits at 100% back to date of original claim. I would recommend having whoever is representing you help you make this decision. Good luck.

  • sam mcinnerney, April 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    my advocate filed to increase my disability rating sometime in Sep-Oct 2012, to service center in Hoston, Tx…..i have logged on to my Ebenfits page many times and i don’t show anything active …my last action was back in 2009, it’s so hard to catch my advocate on the phone, can somebody plz call me and tell me what is going on? was my paperwork lost? why doesn’t my Ebenfits page show any actions on paperwork submitted on my case? Some plz call me Samuel McInnerney 210-338-2940

  • Alpha, April 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm


    I have requested that your Advocate contact you shortly. Please let me know if you do not hear from him.

  • Robert, April 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I just had my last C&P appointment last Wednesday. Now that I am waiting for the decision, I am wondering what kind of time frame will I be looking at from here on. A friend of mine received her decision 2 months after her last C&P appointment. She told me that the Veterans of Foreign Wars was able to expedite her case. Can my advocate do anything similar?

  • Antonio Legrande, April 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Hello fellow veterans and Alpha representatives. I have a few general questions about schooling under chapter 31/Vocational Rehab. I have completed my course for information systems and networking and received a BS degree, I left the manufacturing industry and I have been in the I.T industry since 2005, but all the jobs have been contracted through staffing agencies. Since 2005 I think I have had 11 or 12 jobs, however my VA rep informed me that I need to find a job that do not affect my PTSD condition. I kept trying to tell him that my resume only reflects Service Desk/Help desk jobs which position like that just worse my PTSD condition and at the same time when my resume is viewed by staffing agencies or employers on the job boards that is all they see or all that they will be interested in as for employment interviews. I have tried time and time again to find a position that would either become permanent or to move from the helpdesk off the phones. I have been terminated from the positions with little or no reason, however my last position I was able to get the staffing agency to fill out the VA Form 21-4192 and the reason for my termination which was insubordination and that was back in January of 2013. I did apply for more position since then but in Aug. 2013 I filed a claim for IU with some help from fellow veterans. I received mail stating that my claim was in process etc…but when I called the VA in January of this year I was informed by voice mail that my claim had been cancelled on Dec 23, 2013 due to that I had an ongoing appeal. I know for a fact that I do not have an on going appeal. On Jan. 14, 2014 I filled out the VA Form 21-4138 requested status of all claims which I haven’t heard from the VA. Then later I filled out the same form again on Mar. 26, 2014 requesting the statues of all claims and appeals and haven’t heard anything as of yet.

    I know this seems a little lengthy but my main question is by me completing the program under chapter 31 will that stop me from getting IU? Also the VA rep. tell me that I need to find suitable work again that don’t affect my PTSD condition so do that mean find any job that whether its in the I.T field or manufacturing field? When I tried to explain to him that resume only reflect service desk or help desk jobs he don’t address my concerns on that he only keep saying that I am employable because of the degree. Although these companies aren’t willing to do little to no training. These are the things I have been trying to tell him so , therefore I don’t even respond to him anymore and the last time I got a call from him was telling me that my case was going to be closed and that the status was going to be that I am employable.

    After seeing this website and keeping informed on different veterans and their claims I just want to keep all avenues open to a better solution. If I do not get a satisfactory answer in a reasonable time. I will be using Alpha.

    Thanks in advance for a speedy response!!


  • F.J. O'Connor, April 28, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I receive a 60% paid benefit for agent orange–will my spouse receive a percentage of my benefit when I am deceased?

  • Alpha, May 5, 2014 at 10:39 am


    At 60% the only way your spouse would be entitled to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) would be if he passed away from a service connected disease or disability. No spouse is entitled to a percentage of a veteran’s compensation. The only other benefit she may be entitled to is Death Pension but she would have to meet the income requirements.

  • Craig Kervin, May 29, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I to have been fighting the VA, at the point to wait for a BVA hearing after I filed in 2009 and with congressional (help) interest nothing has happened. I was just put on 100% disability from my pcp and Cleveland Clinic and I need help and repenstation to fight the VA. I am a Gulf war vet from the Marine Corps and then joined the AF and redeployed to Iraq and still became ill with all the symptom’s the VA calls presumptive. I need help

  • Alpha, June 4, 2014 at 11:32 am


    One of our Alpha Advocate will be in touch with you shortly. Please check your email. If you do not receive an email, please respond back to me. I wish you the best of luck!

  • darren webb, October 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I been trying to call my rep. to find out about the stauts of my claim so far I have not heard anything I have emailed and called in still no response I was told to email him if I haven’t heard from the V.A. at time and they would do something so I emailed and called no response

  • Alpha, October 30, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Hi Darren,

    I have reached out to your advocate and have asked that they get in touch with you by the end of the business day today.

    If you have any other questions please give us a call at 877-611-1724.

    Thank you and have a great day!