Disability benefits are a critical means of support for those who have been injured serving their country. But navigating the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system can be difficult. If you’re a veteran, you may not be receiving all of the benefits to which you’re entitled. Worse, your claim may even be denied. It’s important to understand the appeals process and how a veterans disability attorney can assist you.
The appeals process starts by filing a Notice of Disagreement, Form 21-0958. This form must be filed within a year of your benefits decision. The form is available on the VA website, along with instructions on filling it out and filing it. Along with your Notice of Disagreement, you can submit new evidence in favor of your appeal.
Once the Notice of Disagreement is returned to the appropriate VA office, the review process begins. A Decision Review Officer will examine the evidence in support of your appeal. If your appeal is not granted, you will receive a letter called a Statement of the Case. This letter explains the findings related to your appeal and will be accompanied by a VA Form 9. If you disagree with the findings, you can use Form 9 to appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Form 9 must be returned within 60 days.
There are a couple of important points to keep in mind during your appeals process. First, you may have someone help you with your VA benefits appeal. This individual can be a claims agent, a Veterans Service Officer, or an attorney. A New Orleans veterans disability attorney may be able to help with your claim. Second, you can submit new evidence at any time during the process – not just with the Notice of Disagreement.
After the Decision Review Officer is finished reviewing your case, it is sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The date on the Form 9 will help determine the order of your case. There are circumstances which may allow you to expedite this process. If you need your appeal reviewed faster, you may qualify for Advanced on Docket status. One reason to apply for this is if you are suffering from a serious illness. You automatically receive this status if you are over 75 years of age. Your New Orleans veterans disability attorney can assist with the Advanced on Docket process.
You may request a hearing before a Veterans Law Judge. The hearing is optional and will allow the judge to ask questions directly to you. As with the appeals process more generally, a lawyer may assist you with the hearing if you choose one.
Once the Board of Veterans’ Appeals finishes its review, each issue in your appeal will receive one of three decisions:
- Allowed – the Board grants your benefits
- Denied – the Board doesn’t grant your benefits
- Remanded – the Board needs more evidence to render its decision
If you disagree with the decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, you still have options. You may appeal your case to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. You can represent yourself or have an attorney represent you. However, the attorney must be accredited by the VA. You will have 120 days from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision to appeal your case to court.
Contact A Veterans Disability Attorney Today
Not only is the appeals process complicated, it can take a considerable amount of time. The Veterans Benefits Administration, your first stop in the process, may take 12-18 months to review your claim. If you raise your claim to a judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, it may take 5-7 years. There are options for fast-tracking your appeal, and a hearing before a judge may help. A New Orleans veterans disability attorney will fight for the benefits you deserve. Contact Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC to get started.