If you applied for VA benefits and received a decision you disagree with, you have the right to appeal. Most commonly, veterans appeal when the VA denies their claims entirely, or when the VA fails to understand the severity of one’s disability.
Let’s take a look at what it means to appeal a decision, and how a skilled VA benefits lawyer can help.
What it means to appeal
Appealing a benefits decision made by a VA office or medical center means asking for an internal or external review. The goal of an appeal is to get a VA benefits decision reversed or changed in your favor.
Since 2017, veterans have had three options for how they ask the VA to review a decision. The VA refers to pursuing any one of these options as appealing.
- Submitting a supplemental claim involves giving the VA additional information and asking the VA to reconsider its decision in light of that information.
- Asking for a higher-level review involves requesting a review of your claim file and a decision by a senior VA reviewer.
- Appealing to the Board of Veterans Appeals involves starting an official appeal process by filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VA and having the decision reviewed by an administrative judge.
Veterans have one year from the date of the benefits decision they disagree with to seek an appeal. You can only pursue one type of review at a time, but if you’re not successful, you often have the right to pursue a different type of review.
How a VA benefits attorney can help
The VA tries to make it straightforward for veterans to appeal benefits decisions, but it doesn’t always succeed. The appeals process can get confusing, such as when the VA bases a benefits decision on technical language.
Veterans have the right to appoint a representative to advocate for them in the appeals process. An attorney who works with veterans on benefits issues can:
- Advise veterans on which of the three types of reviews stand the best chance of getting them a better result from the VA.
- Help veterans gather, organize, and submit information for the VA to support an appeal.
- Write and present detailed arguments for why a VA benefits decision should be overturned.
- Represent veterans in live or video hearings before the Board of Veterans Appeals.
- Represent veterans in court proceedings before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
By working with an experienced VA benefits attorney, veterans can significantly improve their chances of getting the disability payments they deserve.