Can You Get Disability With A Bad Conduct Discharge?

A "bad paper" discharge can lead to a range of serious consequences including an inability to own a firearm or problems with finding employment in civilian life. It can also impact your ability to receive disability benefits for a service-connected injury. If you are planning to file for disability, here is what you need to know. 

Can a Bad Conduct Discharge Lead to Denial?

A bad conduct discharge can leave you ineligible to receive disability benefits. Even if your injury is service-connected, the Veterans Administration, or VA, can deny your benefits. 

Whether or not the VA actually does deny you depends on a review conducted regarding your time spent in the military. The agency will determine if your service history still allows for you to receive benefits. If so, you will be eligible for benefits. If not, your claim for disability benefits could be denied. 

What Can You Do?

If your claim for benefits is denied because the VA determined that your service history was not enough to warrant approval, you need to petition the Discharge Review Board, or DRB, for a change to your discharge status. The DRB can review your petition and determine if your discharge should be upgraded up to general, honorable, or other than honorable discharge. 

Fighting the bad conduct discharge is a challenge. You have to basically convince the military that you have a valid reason for the conduct that led to the charge. For instance, if you were discharged for being absent without leave, you have to prove you had a good reason for leaving. 

You must submit evidence to backup your reason. For instance, if you were AWOL because you have to care for a terminally ill parent, you need to provide copies of your parent's medical records, statements from the doctors, and witness statements to prove what happened. 

In addition to this, you need to convince the DRB that you have worked to be a better person since your discharge. You can prove this through educational records, your employment history, and credit reports. If you have not been in legal trouble since leaving the military, you can also provide a copy of your background check.

An attorney who is experienced in handling disability claims for service members can help you determine what other steps you can take to overturn the decision of the VA. If possible, consult with an attorney from the beginning to improve your changes of success.