How To Appeal Va Disability Claim – Then, after all the hard work of answering the VA’s requests for multiple records and enduring one or more Compensation and Pensions or C&P exams, you get a notification letter from the VA denying your claim or not evaluating your handicap high enough. Welcome to the VA Appeals Process. It can be very frustrating and you may want to give up, but don’t take “No” for an answer and know your rights to appeal the decision.
The first thing you will do in the VA appeals process is to file a Notice of Disagreement, or NOD, with the decision. This is the first step in appealing the denial or incorrect assessment. Don’t delay, though, because you only have one year from the date of the VA’s decision letter to file an NOD. Otherwise, you lose your right to appeal and the decision becomes final.
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Two very common and troubling mistakes are for a veteran to file a new assessment or later reopen the claim instead of appealing the decision. If someone, whether a VA representative or Veteran Service Officer, advises you to file a reopening or reconsideration instead of an appeal, they may not be looking out for your best interests. Don’t let them scare you or scare you when they say the VA appeals process will take much longer and be much more difficult to get approved. Reopenings and reconsiderations require you to present new and substantial evidence, and you also have the chance to lose your back payment.
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What if the VA made a mistake with the proof you already submitted with the original claim? It doesn’t matter if you don’t appeal it. The better way to go is to file a NOD and request a DRO hearing. This is where a Decision Review Officer, or DRO, takes another look at the claim, disregarding the previous decision to see if mistakes were made, and new evidence may also be submitted. Often, a DRO will find error and approve a claim based on existing evidence that was already submitted – this would not be possible with a reopening or reconsideration.
If the DRO continues the previous decision on the claim, a Statement of the Case, or SOC, is issued. The SOC will explain in detail what the issues are and why the claim was rejected or assessed accordingly. You have 60 days from the date of the SOC to submit a VA Form 9 to formalize the appeal so that it can be certified to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, or BVA, in Washington DC. When you file your Form 9, the fastest way to get a hearing date is to request a live video conference before the BVA.
The VA appeals process and wait times for initial claims are published weekly in the Monday morning Workload Report. If the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) denies your disability claim, it does not mean that you do not deserve benefits or that your chances of receiving them are over. You can appeal VA disability decisions you think are wrong, and there are several appeal options, depending on your unique situation.
This post applies to veterans who received a VA disability decision after February 19, 2019. Some decisions prior to that date are still being administered through the old system.
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If you want to appeal a VA disability assessment, your options in the VA’s newest appeals system depend on a number of factors:
The current appeals system is commonly referred to as the AMA. It stands for the Appeals Modernization Act, a 2017 law passed by Congress that aims to streamline and speed up the VA appeals process by providing alternatives to having a VA decision reviewed.
When you apply for disability benefits, you can expect to wait a few months before receiving an assessment decision. The average waiting time is currently 103.3 days.
If you disagree with the assessment decision, you have three options for how you want the VA to review your case further. Each of the options takes different time to complete. If the VA denies a claim through one of these three methods, you can generally file another type of appeal within one year of the decision you disagree with.
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If you decide to appeal, you may want to consider getting legal help. The appeals process can be confusing. A VA-accredited disability attorney can help you choose the process most likely to result in success and the greatest benefit.
You have three options for a VA disability appeal. Because there are now several ways to approach an appeal, your choice is critical to the likelihood of your appeal being approved. The decision also determines the time it will take to receive approval. Having an attorney can help you navigate the process.
Whichever route you choose, your appeal must be made within one year of the original decision if you wish to retain your effective date as the date of your first claim. These avenues of appeal are explained further below.
Veterans may request a higher level of review when a claim for VA disability benefits is denied, including but not limited to when an incorrect disability rating or effective date is assigned.
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This review is of the original claim with no further evidence. You submit the complaint to the VA Evidence Intake Center, and a senior reviewer in a VA regional office reviews and reconsiders your claim. This reviewer has the authority to reverse previous decisions.
This person may also direct the VA to obtain additional evidence, such as VA examinations and medical reports. It is important to note that if you file a higher level appeal and receive a decision, a request for a CPR cannot be filed to appeal that CPR decision. Instead, you must use either a supplementary claim or an appeal from the board (discussed below).
You can file a supplementary claim if you have new, relevant evidence to support a previously rejected claim. A supplemental claim asks the Veterans Benefits Administration to reconsider your original claim after reviewing the new evidence.
If you choose this method for your VA disability appeal, you cannot resubmit evidence previously submitted to the VA. The evidence must be both new and relevant to your claim.
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You can also provide the VA with non-medical evidence. The VA allows you to submit medical affidavits, which are sworn statements from people who know how your condition affects your daily life or ability to work. These statements can be submitted using an affidavit in support of a claim form.
If you want the Board of Veterans Appeals to rule on your claim, you must appeal by filing a Notice of Disagreement (VA Form 10182) and choosing one of the three paths outlined below.
A veterans law judge reviews the claim based on the same evidence and decides the case without a hearing.
This option may work best for you if you do not need to submit new evidence and your case does not present any unique questions or issues.
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When you choose the evidence document, you have 90 days from the date of your appeal to submit new evidence for your claim. If you do not submit new evidence, the BVA will close your record and continue to make a decision on the complaint based on what is already in the case.
This option may work best for you if you have acquired new evidence to support your complaint and you want the Board to consider it.
Choosing this option means you will have a BVA hearing and you can submit evidence within 90 days of the scheduled hearing.
This option works best for veterans who wish to have an interview with a VLJ and provide testimony in support of their appeal. An attorney or accredited representative may accompany a veteran to a hearing.
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There is no limit to the number of times you can appeal a VA disability assessment. And since appeals can take a long time, it’s best to get it right the first time.
If a VA denies your original claim, your higher-level review, and/or your supplemental claim, you can still appeal to the BVA as long as it is done within one year. You cannot request two board appeals in a row, but you can submit a supplementary claim with new, relevant evidence if you receive a decision that is not positive.
“You can pursue the same claim — even after a BVA denial — with a supplemental claim,” said VA disability attorney Zack Evans. “You must include new and relevant evidence. As long as you advance something new on this issue that you have argued, then the VA regional office has to start you over with an opportunity to reach back to the older effective date.”
After a board decision, you can also appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). A notice of this appeal must be filed no later than 120 days after the board’s decision.
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If you decide to go to the CAVC on appeal, Woods and Woods can refer you to an attorney who will handle this specific
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