Holmes Law Firm Represents Disabled Veterans in Claims and Appeals Across the Country.
If you served your country and need help with your VA disability appeal, contact us. Our firm is owned and operated by a military veteran who isn’t afraid to take your case all the way to the top.
Overview of the Veterans Affairs Disability Claims and Appeals Process
Veterans’ Disability Benefit is a cash benefit paid to a veteran because of injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty or were made worse by active military service.
The VA Disability Benefit Claims Process starts when a veteran makes a claim to the VA for service-connected disability benefits. If the VA denies the claim outright or gives the veteran less benefits than the veteran believes he or she should get, the veteran may appeal.
A lawyer or claims representative may help you with either, or both, parts of the VA Claims and Appeal process. The process can be long (often taking more than a year) confusing, and difficult (denials for some conditions are 95% or more).
If your claim is successful, you get your disability benefits for life. If the VA denies your claim and your appeal is successful, you get your disability benefits plus back pay for the benefits you should have received from the time you made your claim to the time when you won your appeal.
Who can get VA Disability Benefits?
Most service members who have an injury, illness, or disease that either happened while on active duty or got worse while on active duty can get VA Disability benefits. Service members who were dishonorably discharged or discharged under dishonorable conditions generally do not qualify. But there may be exceptions.
When may I apply for VA Disability Benefits?
There is no time limit (that is, no “statute of limitations”) for benefits. You may apply for VA disability benefits at any time after your discharge from the military.
How much money will I receive for VA Disability Benefits?
The amount of monetary benefit a veteran receives each month depends upon the nature of the veteran’s disability (including how severely the disability affects the veteran’s daily life–called an “impairment rating”) and the veteran’s family situation. Because military families rely on veterans for their support, the VA provides higher disability benefit rates for veterans who are married, or who have kids, or who help support their parents.
What is the VA Disability Claims Process?
The VA Disability Claims process is long, confusing, and difficult. There are three basic things you have to prove to be entitled to VA disability:
- That you served on active duty
- That you have a disease, illness, or injury
- Your disease, illness, or injury was caused by, or got worse during, your service on active duty
To prove these three things, you fill out forms and submit service and medical records to the VA’s regional offices. There are regional offices for VA disability claims processing all around the country.
Depending on your situation, you may have to send in work records and private medical records. And in some instances, the VA may make you submit to a medical exam by a VA doctor.
By law, the VA has a duty to assist veterans in the claims process (although many criticize the VA for failing this duty and our veterans–recent audits of claims processing regional offices showed errors in as many as 75% of cases).
If you submit a claim without full information on one of the three critical things you have to prove, the VA may tell you what’s missing or may deny your claim. Either way, after you’ve gone back and forth with the VA on the information they ask you for, they will issue a decision.
If the VA denies your claim entirely, or if it issues you a disability rating lower than you think is correct, you may appeal. To start the appeal, you must submit a paper called a “Notice of Disagreement.”
You have ONE YEAR from the time you first started your claim process to file the notice of disagreement.
The VA Disability Claims Appeals Process
After you file your notice of disagreement, the VA will send you a written explanation of its decision, called a “statement of case.” The VA treats this as an “informal appeal” decision. After you receive the VA’s statement of case, you may then send in more information to try to change the VA’s mind, or you may file a formal appeal.
If you want a formal appeal, you have 60 days from the time you received the VA’s statement of case to file the formal appeal.
If you file a formal appeal, you can decide whether you want a formal hearing in front of administrative law judges (called the Board of Veterans’ Appeals) or would like the VA to consider your appeal just on the papers in your claim and file. If you have a hearing, you may be asked to give testimony under oath about your claim, your disability, and your service.
After the review, the Veterans’ law judge will grant your appeal, deny your appeal, or send your case back to the VA regional office for more investigation.
If the VA judge denies your claim, you may appeal that decision, too. Eventually, you could take your case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Obviously, most veterans’ claims don’t go up that high.
Do I Need a Lawyer for my VA Disability Appeal?
You are allowed to file your claim and your appeal by yourself. But as you can see, the VA disability benefit appeal process is very complicated.
An accredited VA disability appeals lawyer can guide your claim and appeal through the complicated process the right way to make sure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. According to the VA’s data, veterans who have attorneys are twice as successful in their VA appeals as veterans who try to appeal on their own.
What Should I do if the VA denies my Disability claim?
You should contact Holmes Law Firm immediately. As an accredited VA disability appeals law firm, Holmes Law Firm will evaluate your claim and guide you through the appeals process with no up-front fee. We only get paid a fee for our assistance if we get your claim approved or get your disability rated higher.
Contact us today to discuss your claim. There is no obligation, and the consultation is free. And you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case and get you the benefits and back pay you deserve.