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  1. We are often given bad advice on our VA disability claims, by VA employees, VSO's, or even well meaning hadit members. However, if a hadit member posts bad advice, mostly others challenge it, and even correct it. This rarely happens with VA employees or VSO's advice. Here are my top 10 bad advice statements: (Dont make these mistakes) 1. If you apply for an increase, you will be decreased instead. Its actually difficult for VA to reduce you, especially if you refuse to roll over and allow them to do it. Source: 38 CFR 3.344 2. "Wait" until issue "A" is completed until you apply for "issue B". This costs Veterans retro. Your effective date cant be earlier than the date you applied. (Exception: If you apply for benefits within a year of discharge, you can get an effective date back to your date of discharge) 3. Ignore letters VA sends you. They often contain deadlines for additional evidence, or other deadlines. Keep VA up to date on your address, you may not get letters you need to have! 4. Solely relying upon information a VA employee or VSO tells you, especially if it smells fishy. If you smell fish, chances are good there is a dead fish nearby. Give the advice the "smell test". 5. Solely relying upon information "you were told". I cringe whenever I hear "I was told...." Usually, this precedes bad information. Check this information on hadit, review the CFR's to see if its consistent, or check the VBM (Veterans Benefit Manual) instead. Remember, neither VA employees (nor VSOs) nor politicians keep promises 100 percent of the time. VA will not hold accountable an employee who gives you bad advice. 6. Not reading your decision. Bad idea. How do you know whether or not to appeal it? 7. Not reading or knowing whats in your cfile, and guessing instead. What did your doctor say? Did he WRITE DOWN what he said in his office? Find out and read it. Its your claim. 8. "NOT" enlisting the services of a professional (lawyer or claims agent) when necessary. For example if the retro potential is large, or your claim is complex. Your bias against attorneys can often cost you money. Hiring an attorney "does not" always cost you money. In fact, it should never cost you money...you should get more, much more, with an attorney than without him. While there are many circumstances when an attorney is not necessary, such as your initial claim, when you dispute the decision you got, its a great time to consider your options as far as a representative goes. Not all Veterans have the resources or skills to do their own claim. Did you know that some law firms will "up front" the costs of an IMO in order to win your claim (especially when the Vet can not afford an IMO). Incredibly, there are many "Pro Bono" law firms (such as NVLSP) which do not charge Veterans for their services. Also, EAJA (Equal access to Justice Act) pays many/most Vets attorney fees at the CAVC level). 9. Poor reasearch/no research. Chances are great other Vets have had a similar issue before, and its already been decided by the BVA or CAVC. You can check to see what happened to them so that you either dont make the same mistake as they did, or you can do it the way they did and succeed. 10. Giving up too soon. If you truly feel that you deserve the benefit sought, there is a great time to give up: NEVER! Persistence often pays off when giving up does not.
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