Dr. Dan Monlux and I both joined the military in the last century. Together, we have more than 50 years of military service and almost that much aviation experience. We have seen countless people leave the military and apply for VA disability. Would-be civilian pilots need to navigate that process carefully.
Over the years we have noticed a couple of common, but significant, trends. One is overdiagnosis by VA compensation and pension examiners. Mental health conditions in particular can negatively impact your ability to get a FAA medical certification. The second is just as problematic. To avoid the dilema, some service members simply omit certain conditions from their disability claims. As we have previously discussed, both of these situations put you in an uncomfortable position with how you fill out your next MedXPress.
You get what you pay for
Many people who help separating military members with their VA disability claim do so completely for free. They are familiar with the paperwork, they know how to file and they generally know what various conditions will be considered service connected. With these in mind you can do a rough calculation of a VA disability benefit.
Traditionally, “helping” means “maximizing” your disability rating. Those assisting veterans with their claims often have very little formal medical training and even less knowledge of FAA medical certification requirements. That is how you, as a pilot, get painted into a corner.
An inappropriate diagnosis without a treatment plan or documented resolution will cause significant issues with FAA medical certification. Imagine it from the FAA perspective: you have a new mental health diagnosis, but no treatment or documentation that you are better. That doesn’t read well at all. Meanwhile, by intentionally omitting disability claims for certain conditions, you do more than forfeit the compensation you are entitled to. It is also illegal because those medical conditions are still reportable to the FAA, disability status or not.
The value of VA disability
Let’s go through an example. The VA has a compensation calculator so you can look up various combinations yourself. In this scenario we will use a 40 year old veteran with a spouse and two dependent children. We will also use a life expectancy of 78 years and a cost of living adjustment for the VA disability benefit that tracks inflation.
There is big money on the table. Every 10 percent increase in VA disability is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your post-military life. But your FAA medical certification, and a career as an airline pilot, is also a multimillion dollar proposition. What does one do? How do you maximize your VA disability for your legitimate service connected conditions while ensuring your FAA medical certification is not in jeopardy?
Combined VA Record Review & FAA Case Preparation
The physicians at Wingman Med are experts in aviation medicine. Our experience and expertise make us fluent in pilot, medicine and the FAA. However, we also know our limitations. As much as we are experts in aviation medicine, we know we are not experts in VA disability. Meet the newest member of our team.
Dr. Ray Portier first joined the military in 1993 and became a physician in 2007. While we have spent our time becoming experts in aviation medicine and helping pilots with their medical certification, Dr. Portier has done the same thing with VA disability. He is board certified in family medicine and has been working with Sailors and Marines for over 12 years to aid them in their disability claims. Dr. Portier has even been the lead physician for the medical board process of a Navy hospital. Now he is part of our team. He also just happens to be a FAA AME.
At Wingman Med we can help you avoid inappropriate diagnoses, and you will never be left to struggle with FAA medical certification on your own. We also won’t let you leave a service-connected condition unclaimed because of fear. We will prepare you properly so that you can get both: an optimal VA disability rating and a FAA medical certificate.
Have your cake and it too
Our combination VA Record Review & FAA Case Preparation will ensure that you fully understand the implications that your potential VA disability ratings may have on your FAA medical certification. With that knowledge, you can file your VA claim with confidence. If you are safe to fly, it is just a matter of proving it with the right documentation. That is what we do best.
If you are applying for VA disability benefits and also intend on a career in professional aviation, there are millions of dollars at stake. Investing wisely at the beginning of that process can save you time, money, emotional distress, and maybe even your career.