While on active military duty, servicemembers can be exposed to a variety of occupational hazards that go beyond enemy fire. Even if you never served in combat, you may have been injured, developed an illness, been exposed to hazardous or toxic chemicals, or had some other event happen in service which may serve as the basis for VA disability compensation.
Unfortunately, many veterans encounter resistance when attempting to collect these benefits. While VA does exist to help veterans, over time their regulations and policies have become complex and they employ strict requirements on what conditions warrant benefits. As a result, denials are more common than ever, often due to VA’s errors following their own rules. Fortunately, if you have received a denial of a disability benefits claim, you have the right to file an appeal.
VetLaw’s veterans’ disability appeals lawyers can help you pursue these appeals. Recent changes in the law give veterans multiple legal paths to request review of every VA decision, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Our experienced attorneys can work with you to pursue the path that presents the best chance for success.
VA disability benefits are only available to veterans who meet the strict guidelines put in place by VA. In short, benefits are available to veterans who suffered an illness or injury while on active duty that has a continuing effect on their health in the present day.
One of the most common reasons for a denial is when VA claims that your current disability does not stem from active duty service. VA decisions may also try to minimize the extent of a veteran’s disability, necessitating an appeal.
When assessing a claim for benefits, VA assigns a percentage of disability for a condition based on its effect on the claimant’s life based on factors found within VA’s rating schedule. If you have not shown that you meet the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic Code for your disability which is outlined in the rating schedule, or if your medical records do not indicate that your disability meets the criteria for a compensable rating, VA may deny your claim or assign you a rating far below what you deserve.
No matter why VA issues a denial, veterans always have the option to appeal. However, there are strict timelines for an appeal, which vary depending on whether your case is considered a Legacy Appeal or one that falls within the Appeals Modernization Act. VetLaw’s experienced attorneys can help evaluate your denial letter and explain what steps to take next.
There are several options available to veterans following a denial of benefits. Depending on whether VA considers the case to be a Legacy Appeal or under the rules of the Appeals Modernization Act, veterans must either file a Notice of Disagreement, or file a form to choose an option such as Higher Level Review, Supplemental Claim, or a Direct Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
Requesting a review before the Board is the most intensive of these options. Here, veterans can choose among several options for appeal, including a formal hearing before a Veterans’ Law Judge or the submission of additional evidence for consideration by the Board.
BVA hearings give a veteran the chance to present their case, either in-person or by videoconference, before the judge who will decide their case. VetLaw’s experienced attorneys can assist by examining the facts of your case, determining what evidence should be presented and which appeal option to choose, and by representing you at any Board hearings.
Receiving a denial letter from VA disability does not have to be the end of your case. All veterans who receive a denial from VA, no matter the reasons for their denial, have the right to pursue an appeal. These appeals can range in complexity and the proper form to use and options to choose depend on whether your appeal is considered to be a Legacy Appeal or an appeal under the Appeals Modernization Act. In either case, you are entitled to a formal hearing before a Veterans’ Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, D.C., if you so choose.
VetLaw’s experienced veterans’ disability appeals lawyers can help analyze the reasons for your initial or any subsequent denial, assist you in gathering any additional evidence that can help prove your case, and guide you to pursue the appeal path that aligns with your unique circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, we can appear with you in-person before the Veterans’ Law Judge who will hold your hearing and decide your case. Since the time to file a request for an appeal is limited, call us today to schedule a free case review and consultation.