If you filed a claim for VA disability benefits and received an unfavorable decision, you have the right to appeal it. VA has recently updated its appeals process for disability applicants. It offers more choices and, if early data is an accurate indication, significantly shorter wait times.
At the Disability Advantage Group, our Veterans Affairs (VA) disability lawyers have a long track record of helping veterans. We can help you collect benefits for injuries and other medical conditions you suffered as a result of your military service. We want to put our extensive resources to work for you. Our firm offers a free case evaluation and never collects a fee until you recover benefits. To speak with a member of our team today, call 865-566-0800.
The Steps of a VA Disability Appeal
To retain your right to appeal a denial of VA disability benefits, begin the process within one year of receiving an adverse decision from VA. Filling out the appeal and gathering supporting documentation can take time. So, it is best to start the process as soon as possible after receiving a denial. We can help.
But even if you are up against the deadline, our attorneys can help submit your appeal in time. Here are the steps of the VA disability appeal process:
The Notice of Disagreement (NOD)
Upon receiving a denial of benefits, you must file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year. You can find this form on VA’s website, or you may contact your local VA office and have them mail it to you.
Once you fill out the form, you need to mail it to the address listed on your claim decision from VA or take it in person to your local office. If you need help filling out the NOD, your attorney or a VA representative can assist you.
Under the old system, a Decision Review Officer (DRO) will receive your NOD, review your evidence, and decide whether to reverse your denial. Under the new system, you will have three choices of where to submit your appeal, explained further in a section below.
The Statement of the Case
The Decision Review Officer decides your appeal does not offer enough evidence for a decision reversal and grant of evidence. In this instance, they will mail you a Statement of the Case. This document lists their findings and explains why they have decided to uphold your denial.
When you receive your Statement of the Case, contact an attorney. You may elect to continue the appeals process by requesting a hearing with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), and our office can help.
VA Form 9
Along with the Statement of the Case, you will receive VA Form 9 if the Decision Review Officer upholds your denial of benefits. With this form, you can request a Board hearing. You have only 60 days from receiving your Statement of the Case to submit VA Form 9.
The Board Receives Your Appeal
Once you submit VA Form 9, the Board receives your appeal and puts it on the docket for a hearing in the order received. For years, this part of the process has been notorious for delays and backlogs. The average veteran waited over three years for a Board hearing. VA rolled out its new appeals process to break up the logjam, and so far, results have been promising.
You Attend Your Hearing, and the Board Makes a Decision
At your hearing, you have the opportunity to plead your case directly to a Veterans Law Judge. The judge will ask you questions about your case, and you can provide statements for why you deserve benefits. You may bring a lawyer to your hearing, and your lawyer may speak on your behalf. We highly recommend this strategy as having the best chance of winning you a favorable outcome.
Following your hearing, the Board will render one of three decisions on your case:
- Approval: The Board agrees with the evidence you presented and grants you benefits.
- Denial: The Board feels your evidence is insufficient and denies your appeal.
- Remand: The Board believes you might have a case, but it needs more information to make a decision. So it remands your case to the Veterans Benefits Administration, which attempts to collect the evidence as requested by the Board.
Contact a VA disability lawyer from the Disability Advantage Group. Our team can gather documentation and put forward a compelling appeal on your behalf.
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act
In 2017, the President signed into law a complete overhaul of the VA disability appeals process. VA has incrementally rolled out the new process throughout 2018, and by February 2019 it should be fully functional.
Under the new law, rather than following a rigid appeals process such as described above, you have several options for how VA handles your appeal. You may choose one of three appeals “lanes,” and your VA disability lawyer can help you decide which is best for your specific case.
The three VA disability lanes created by the new law are:
In this lane, you can skip the Decision Review Officer and submit your appeal to a higher-level employee for review. The caveat is you may not submit any additional evidence when choosing this lane.
In this lane, your appeal returns to a Decision Review Officer, but you may submit additional evidence to bolster your claim.
Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) Lane
By choosing this lane, you can bypass the review process and appeal directly to the Board, receiving a face-to-face hearing.
Call 865-566-0800 for a Free Case Evaluation With the VA Disability Team at the Disability Advantage Group
At the Disability Advantage Group, our VA disability lawyers are eager to get started on your appeal. We want to help you receive the benefits you deserve for your service and sacrifice. For a free case evaluation, call us at 865-566-0800.