You’ve Won Your VA Disability Appeal, Now What?
Posted by Berry Law on May 4, 2022 in Appeals
Many Veterans struggle to get the benefits they deserve and have to appeal a claim multiple times to receive any benefits. Though the process can be long and stressful, having a good team like Berry Law Firm can take some burden off your shoulders.
Once a Veteran wins their appeal, there are several more steps to take before the fight is over.
- When a Veteran should appeal
- How to appeal a VA decision
- What your appeal status means
- How to claim your benefits.
When Should a Veteran File an Appeal?
The Department of Veteran Affairs can complicate the process for a Veteran to receive benefits. It is not always a smooth process with immediate benefits for the Veteran. It can take an average of three to seven years to go through the entire appeals process. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 was passed to fix this issue, but many Veterans experience improvement.
When the VA denies a claim, there are a variety of reasons. In some cases, the VA may actually grant benefits but with a low evaluation or an improper effective date.
Why Does the VA Deny Claims?
There are numerous reasons why the VA will deny a Veteran’s claim, including the following:
- No evidence of an event in service: A Veteran should ensure the record shows an event, diagnosis, or illness that occurred while the Veteran was in service.
- Lack of evidence for current disability: A Veteran should ensure the evidence, such as medical records or lay statements, shows either a current diagnosis or symptoms.
- No link to service: A Veteran must show that their disability is related to their service. The record must show that the Veteran’s current condition was related to that event, diagnosis, or illness. This can be the most difficult element to prove since it often requires a medical opinion.
Any time the VA denies a claim for service connection or a Veteran believes the VA failed to award the proper evaluation or effective date, they should appeal. The team at Berry Law Firm can evaluate any Decision to determine if they can assist a Veteran to appeal their claims.
How To Win a VA Disability Claim Appeal
Any appeal starts by documenting any medical problem and appealing a VA decision. Appealing can be time-consuming, so keeping on top of deadlines and evidence is key. The Veteran typically has one year to appeal a VA Rating Decision.
If the Veteran misses the deadline, that decision becomes final. The Veteran can always file a claim to reopen with new and relevant evidence but will add unnecessary time and effort. It can also affect the effective date a Veteran may be entitled to.
To ensure any appeal is done correctly and on time, it is critical to seek assistance from a knowable and accredited representative. The team at Berry Law Firm can review your claims and help you choose the best appeal track. Berry Law Firm can guide a Veteran through the evidence development and appeal process.
Gathering the Correct Evidence
An effective appeal usually requires new evidence. The VA rarely reverses a decision based on the initial evidence or claim.
Because the VA has the duty to assist Veterans, they are required to help you gather the necessary evidence to make an appeal. This evidence could be medical records, service records, or medical opinions.
When filing a Supplemental Claim, a Veteran must include new and relevant evidence:
- New evidence: Evidence that the VA did not have before they made their initial decision
- Relevant evidence: Evidence that can either prove or disprove something regarding your claim
The evidence should help disprove an initial judgment made by the VA or prove something they overlooked. That means the Veteran should consider why the VA denied the claim in the first place and gather the necessary information to remedy that reason for denial.
The appeal process is often more complicated than the initial claim. There are strict rules all Veterans must follow, and there is no telling what the VA will do once a Veteran files an appeal.
What Happens When a Veteran Wins An Appeal?
A Veteran will receive different statuses to indicate where they are at in the process of appealing a VA decision.
Different statuses correlate to different meanings. Here is a list of examples of different statuses and meanings for the appeal process:
- Status: You’re waiting for your hearing to be scheduled
- Meaning: The VA has received your request to have a hearing but hasn’t yet scheduled one.
- Status: Your hearing has been scheduled
- Meaning: The VA has scheduled a hearing and more information will come via mail.
- Status: A judge is reviewing your appeal
- Meaning: There is a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals who is reviewing your appeal.
- Status: The judge is seeking more information before making a decision
- Meaning: The judge is looking to find evidence or other outside opinions from a legal, medical, or other professional to help decide whether to approve or deny your appeal.
- Status: We corrected an error
- Meaning: The judge found an error and corrected it or changed your disability rating or eligibility for benefits. A corrected decision has been sent.
- Status: We granted your appeal
- Meaning: The VA overturned the original decision.
A Veteran can begin collecting benefits once the VA grants their claim.
What Steps Should a Veteran Take When They Win Their Appeal?
Here are some initial steps that a Veteran should take once they win their disability appeal:
- Set up direct deposit: When a Veteran wins an appeal, the VA will send an award packet. The Veteran can then sign up for a direct deposit for their benefits. If a Veteran does not set up direct deposit, the VA will send monthly paper checks to the Veteran’s last known address.
- Sign up for additional benefits: There are often more benefits available than monthly compensation. Health Care, Vocational Rehabilitation, Dependent Benefits are just a few additional benefits that may be available once a Veteran obtains service connection.
- Research state benefits: Many states have benefits for disabled Veterans. The benefits will vary from state to state. In Nebraska, for example, a Veteran with a 100 percent permanent and total rating may be exempt from homestead property taxes.
- File an appeal for an increased rating or earlier effective date: In many cases, the VA fails to award the proper rating or effective date for the service connected condition. This may leave a Veteran with less compensation than they deserve. It’s always important to review your records carefully to ensure the VA has not made this costly error.
The VA claims appeal process can be stressful and complicated. It can also be more time-consuming than the initial claim. If a Veteran wins their claim, there are still important steps they should take to receive all the benefits they deserve. The team at Berry Law Firm can help you evaluate your case to determine if a Veteran needs to file an appeal or additional benefits.
For more information regarding VA law and Veteran benefits, visit our website.
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