Millions of veterans struggle daily with the effects of illnesses or injuries that occurred or were aggravated during active duty service. Those veterans may be entitled to Service-Connected Disability Compensation. Claims can arise from more than just a physical injury incurred during service.
When you apply for disability compensation, the VA will first determine if your claimed impairments or disabilities are related to your service. This is usually done by sending the veteran to multiple compensation and pension exams at a VA medical facility. If the VA determines that your impairments are related to your service it will assign a disability rating from 0 to 100 percent for each impairment, based on its severity and then assign an overall disability rating. The higher the percentage assigned, the higher your monthly compensation.
The VA’s process for these claims (and all other claims, really) is painfully slow. Currently, the VA is struggling with a huge backlog and has limited resources with which to process claims. A decision on a veteran’s initial claim, which can be filed at a local Regional Office or through the eBenefits system, may take well over a year. Appeals take even longer. Compounding the frustration of long wait times is the difficulty tracking the progress of an appeal of a claim through the VA’s unhelpful and maddening phone system and limited online access. Developing and presenting your appeal properly the first time will help eliminate additional wait time or later appeals. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can help guide your claim through the appeals process toward the best possible result and highest amount of compensation.
If you receive a decision from the VA on your initial claim for disability compensation that you believe is incorrect or does not award the full amount you are entitled to, you may appeal the decision to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) by filing a Notice of Disagreement within one year of the date of the decision. You can appeal issues such as the denial of service connection, the ratings awarded, or the effective date of your benefits. You must determine whether you want your appeal to be handled by a Decision Review Officer (DRO) or through the traditional process. You can also request a hearing at this time. When considering your appeal, a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney who can explain your options is highly recommended.
After you file your Notice of Disagreement, the VA will issue a Statement of the Case, which is a more detailed explanation of the findings in your ratings decision and how and what evidence was considered in making those findings. If you still disagree with the VA’s findings, you must act quickly by filing a VA Form 9 with your Regional Office within 60 days of the receipt of the Statement of the Case. You may also request a hearing in front of the BVA at this time. Again, the assistance of an accredited, experienced VA attorney can help with your appeal to the BVA by developing your claim and presenting it in an effective manner which will encourage a favorable decision.
If the decision from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) does not satisfy your claim or award the benefits you feel that you are entitled to, you may appeal your claim to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). The CAVC is an Article I court and not part of the VA and has exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions of the BVA. If the BVA denies your claim take action immediately! You must submit a notice of appeal to the CAVC within 120 days of receiving the decision from the BVA. An appeal to the CAVC is an adversarial process. The VA will be represented by an attorney from the VA’s General Counsel, therefore it is important that you have an attorney that can represent your interests and argue against the VA’s position. Our attorneys are admitted to practice before the CAVC and can insure that you have professional, competent, and zealous representation needed before the court.
If the CAVC denies your claim, you have two final opportunities for appeal. You may first appeal your claim to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. If dissatisfied with the decision of the Federal Circuit, you may appeal your claim to the Supreme Court of the United States. However, the Supreme Court has the discretion to hear your claim or deny review. Again, the assistance of an attorney who is licensed to practice before those courts and who is familiar with the rules and procedures of those courts is crucial to making your best argument.
There are other benefits you may be entitled to, based on your service-connected disability. Listed below are a few of those benefits. Maximizing your benefits and ensuring you are receiving every benefit to which you are entitled are tasks that a knowledgeable and accredited attorney, like those at our firm, can help you achieve.
If you need assistance appealing your service-connected disability claim, please contact our veterans law office for a free consultation at 844-244-VETS (8387) or 214-741-2005. We are based in Dallas, Texas, and represent veterans all over the United States.
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Julie L. Glover
Sustaining Member since 2011