A Denial of Claims Does Not Have to be the Final Answer
When a person’s future is on the line, a denied VA benefits claim may be very disheartening. However, for soldiers seeking disability compensation, a denial does not have to be the end of the journey. Veterans disability appeals are submitted on a daily basis, and some veterans are successful in overturning the VA’s initial decision. At Conviction Solutions we offer experienced veterans disability appeals services to assist you in navigating this system.
Process of VA Disability Appeal
If you are a veteran who has been denied disability benefits by the VA, there is a process you can take to appeal the decision.
The first step is to contact the VA and dispute their decision. You will be given an opportunity to explain your situation, and ask for a new decision. During this appeal process you may need to provide evidence that supports your case. This may involve providing medical records and even statements and testimony from your medical provider or other medical experts.
In the instance that the VA continues to deny your claim after you have appealed their decision, the next step may be to appeal further. Understanding what step is right for you may be challenging. This is where having proper representation assisting you through this process can be of the utmost importance. Engaging with experienced VA appeals attorneys can make all the difference in the outcome of your specific case.
Decision Review Officer (DRO) Hearing
A quick way to get a veterans disability denial reversed is to ask for a DRO hearing, also now referred to as Higher Level Review. A personal hearing before a DRO can be requested, but it is not always a necessary part of the appeals process. If the DRO overturns the earlier decision, the veteran will receive a new Rating Decision. If the DRO affirms the preceding judgment, then the veteran will receive a new rating decision or a Statement of the Case, or SOC . Even then, veterans still have options and may take the case to the Washington-based Board of Veterans Appeals, or BVA.
Veterans can also appeal directly to the BVA if they do not want to go through the DRO process. The BVA will create a Statement of Case if the veteran chooses this option. If the veteran wishes to continue the appeal after getting the SOC, there would be a need to file a Form 9 formal appeal, or a Board appeal request. This appeal will subsequently be sent to the BVA by the VA. A Board appealcan be a lengthy process, often taking years.
When the BVA receives the appeal, they contact the veteran by letter. Their letter will outline the next actions for the veteran to take. The veteran has the option of having a hearing with a BVA Judge if they want. A hearing is not necessary but it may be highly beneficial in allowing the veteran to speak directly with the judge about the issue.
DRO claims are often reviewed more quickly than claims submitted to the BVA. The drawback of the DRO appeal is that if the DRO does not reverse the initial rejection, the waiting period for the concerned veteran for a BVA review will be even longer.
Anybody that has worked with the VA understands that a wait is all part of the process. Appealing the decision of denied disability claim is no different. As the VA becomes synonymous with longer and longer wait times, it is important to understand the various factors which may influence the delay in processing your appeal. Many of these factors are well outside of your control, but some are important decisions to make in terms of processing your appeal.
When choosing a review by a DRO, it has been shown that the decision making process can take up to two years. According to the BVA’s annual report for 2015-2016, the average appeals process took a little over three years from the time a case first arrived before the Board to reaching a final decision. Steps like having a case validated and forwarded to the board may take additional time on the front end, but allows it to process smoother and faster at later steps. If your appeal is treated as a Higher Level Review, current VA guidelines call for completion of the appeal within 120 days of filing.
When veterans attempt to appeal their own claims they may take steps that extend their wait. A lot of the options can be so confusing that veterans working on their own appeals often make decisions that cause their appeal to take longer, and still get denied.
One thing you can do to speed the VA appeals process along is by filing all necessary paperwork and documentation as expeditiously as possible. Seeking counsel and having your documentation reviewed and filed by an attorney that is experienced in VA appeals will increase your chances of filing in a way that ensures you the swiftest route through the claims process.
Many veterans wait until the last minute to file an NOD or Board appeal request. It is strongly recommended to file an NOD as soon as it is available. It is also recommended to present all of the proof supporting the claim as soon as possible. If extra evidence is available it is greatly beneficial to file it with the NOD at the beginning of the appeals process as adding it later may cause the appeal to proceed at a slower rate.
How Hiring a VA Appeals Attorney Helps
Hiring an attorney with VA appeals experience can help you increase your odds of having your VA decision overturned. VA appeals attorneys are highly successful at navigating the complexities of the appeals process. They have an in-depth understanding of the proper steps that are needed, and how to ensure that all information is accurately submitted.
For veterans looking to overturn a VA claims decision, hiring an attorney can make all the difference. Some veterans provide incomplete or deficient information for their cases. Professional legal assistance can increase the chances that veterans receive maximum compensation for their unique situation. Potential resources include seeking independent medical evaluations, vocational expert assessments, and other professionals to testify on the behalf of veterans. This is a significant advantage to the veteran as they make the case much more winnable.
There is no guarantee that any appeal will be successful, even if you meet all the criteria. In a VA appeal, even if the BVA affirms an initial decision, veterans have options to escalate their appeals. If the BVA has made clear errors, veterans should write to them and request that they reconsider their judgment. They can also go to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Disability Claims and submit an appeal with them. Within 120 days of the BVA’s judgment, a veteran must submit a Notice of Appeal with the Court. If the ruling is sustained in that court, a veteran may choose to then appeal to a federal circuit court. All of the options for appeals can be clearly explained to you during a meeting with legal representation.
Contact Conviction Solution for Free Consultation to Discuss Your VA Appeal
Conviction Solutions, founded by Jamie Resch, has been helping veterans win appeals of their VA disability claims for years. Our proven track record of success have made major changes in the lives of our veteran clients. From our initial interview through the entire process we are your partner in reaching a positive outcome with maximum benefits for you and your family.
As a veteran you have fought and sacrificed for our country, and now it’s time for our VA to show you their appreciation. Being denied VA disability benefits is disgraceful. Having an attorney that is willing to help rectify these situations can make all the difference in their outcome. The overall process will not seem as daunting nor as difficult as it might have without someone to guide veterans through these difficult processes. Let us guide you through and find the most successful outcome for your VA appeal.