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How to Appeal a VA Decision?

Published on January 15th, 2022

Veteran Disability Attorney in South Portland, Maine

In the United States, the Veterans Affairs (VA) is a government organization that assists people who have actively served in the military, navy, and armed forces. The VA offers various programs providing financial, medical, and other assistance to veterans. If you are a veteran suffering from a service-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to receive disability benefits. A competent South Portland veteran disability lawyer can help you file for a VA disability benefits claim.

If you applied for veterans’ disability compensation benefits and the VA had mailed you a letter denying you benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. This article will give you an overview of how to file a VA decision appeal by answering the following questions:

  1. What is a VA Disability Compensation?
  2. How Does One Appeal a VA Benefits Denial?
  3. What is the Role of a VA Disability Attorney?

What is a VA Disability Compensation?

VA disability compensation is a tax-free, monthly monetary benefit that veterans receive because of an injury or disability acquired during their military service. It is intended to compensate the veteran for lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life. Any veteran who is injured or develops a medical condition during their time in service may be eligible for VA disability compensation.

There are certain requirements that you must meet before filing a VA disability claim. To qualify for veterans’ disability benefits, you must have a service-connected disability. It may include physical conditions (like a chronic illness or injury) and mental health conditions (like post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD). A seasoned Maine veteran disability lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to receive the VA compensation.

Keep in mind that it is advisable to start your claim early to establish an early effective date. The importance of the effective date is that you are entitled to back pay at the monthly rate. The coverage is from the final decision date going back to the effective date.

How to Appeal a VA Benefits Denial?

Not all VA disability claims are easily approved. There are several factors to be considered before deciding to approve or deny a claim. In some cases, the VA may not always make the correct initial decision for a veteran’s claim.

All veterans who receive a denial have the right to pursue a legal appeal. While it may be tempting to give up, it is always worth it to retry and request an appeal for your benefits case. After all, to file for an appeal, you will be given a grace period of one year from the date your Regional Office (RO) sends you its decision. A knowledgeable VA disability attorney in Maine can help you understand the appeals process.

File a Notice of Disagreement

To begin with the appeal process, the first step you must take is to submit a written Notice of Disagreement (NOD) to your Regional Office. This document notifies the VA that you disagree with the decision that has been made. You may write your letter or use the VA Statement in Support of Claim Form to state the reasons why you disagree with the VA decision, as well as your intent to appeal.

Make sure to mention that your disagreement isn’t limited to the issues you have mentioned. You must state that you disagree with all of the decisions in the denial letter and rating decision. After receiving your NOD, the VA will send you a letter acknowledging your Notice of Disagreement and telling you what to expect next.

Choose the Type of Appeal

Once you have sent a Notice of Disagreement, you can opt for a decision review officer (DRO) appeal with or without a fair hearing at your VA regional office, or you can appeal directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). However, if you want to appeal to the BVA, you have to wait for the VA to issue you a Statement of the Case. Generally, a DRO appeal gets completed faster than a BVA appeal. If the DRO doesn’t grant you veterans benefits, you can still take your case to the Board of Veterans Appeals later on.

One of your options is to request a Decision Review Officer (DRO) from your local office to review your file. A DRO will conduct a de novo review (no deference given to the previous decision) and may overturn or uphold the previous appeal decision. The appointed officer can recheck your case and ensure that there are no mistakes made during your first application.

If the DRO overturns the previous decision, you will receive a new Rating Decision. On the other hand, if the DRO upholds the previous decision you will receive a Statement of the Case (SOC). If the decision is not favorable to your claim, you may still file the appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) within the time limit outlined in the DRO decision.

Wait for the Statement of the Case

After the reexamination of your file, the Regional Office will send you a Statement of the Case (SOC). This includes a detailed explanation of the evidence, rules, and regulations that were used in determining the outcome of your case. Your RO must also include a Substantive Appeal Form (VA Form 9) to confirm your intent to appeal.

File the Substantive Appeal Form

You must fill out the Substantive Appeal Form with a detailed explanation as to why your case should have been approved. This form is more difficult to complete than a Notice of Disagreement, so you may need the help of a reliable South Portland veteran disability attorney. Once the form has been accomplished, you will be given 90 days to submit your medical records and factual evidence to the BVA in support of your claim. You will have to wait several months for your VA regional office to transfer your file to the BVA.

Wait for the Final Decision

The VA appeals process can be a lengthy one. Many factors help determine how long a claim might take, many of which you’ll have little to no control over. It usually takes several months to a few years for the BVA to schedule hearings to review your case. After your appeal, the BVA will mail you a decision stating whether your claim has been approved or denied.

What is the Role of a VA Disability Attorney?

Filing for a VA disability benefits claim can be challenging and confusing. If the VA believes that you have not met the eligibility requirements, your claim will be denied. Denial is not the end of the road for veterans seeking disability benefits. You may submit an appeal request for reconsideration of your claim.

If you are having difficulty in filing an appeal, our experienced South Portland veteran disability lawyers at Jackson & MacNichol Law can help in several ways. Our veteran disability law firm can review your claim and find out the reasons for the denial. We will help you structure your appeal, gather relevant evidence, and ensure approval of the claim. We will fight for your rights and help you receive the maximum compensation possible for your disability.

Call us now at 888-492-2941 and schedule an initial consultation.


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