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It is an unfortunate fact that many veterans who apply for VA disability benefits will receive denials. The most common reason for a denial is when VA does not believe that your condition is connected to your active duty service.

Regardless of the reasons for a denial, all applicants have the right to appeal that decision. There are strict rules and procedures that govern this process, and following them yields the best chance for success. VetLaw’s team of experienced attorneys can help ensure you follow the VA appeals process in a way that is most likely to lead to success following a denial of benefits. Depending on the date of your denial, your appeal may fall under VA’s Legacy Appeals system or under the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.

Why Might an Appeal Be Necessary?

Many veterans with a disability connected to service will be denied benefits from VA, at least the first time they apply. VA strictly interprets the law in a way that leads to many unnecessary denials. All veterans must show they are a veteran by VA’s standards, that they suffer from a current disability, and that their disability is connected to some event, injury, disease, or exposure that occurred on active duty.

An appeal may be warranted not only for a complete denial but also for a partial approval of VA benefits. Common reasons for appeals include:

  • A total rejection of a claim when partial or full benefits were justified
  • A misevaluation of the applicant’s level of disability
  • An improper effective date leading to lesser retroactive benefits

Veterans have different time limits to file an appeal depending on whether their case falls under VA’s Legacy Appeals system or the Appeals Modernization Act. VetLaw’s experienced attorneys can help a rejected applicant evaluate their options and begin the appeal process.

Options for Pursuing an Appeal

Appeals of VA disability benefits claims come in many forms, ranging in complexity and depending on whether your case falls under VA’s Legacy Appeals system. If not, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 provides veterans with three avenues of appeal:

  1. Higher Level Review – a VA employee with more seniority will reexamine the case for any errors made during the initial application period. No new evidence may be submitted during this review, and veterans are left to rely on the VA’s internal oversight structure to overturn the decision. However, VA-accredited attorneys are allowed to participate in an informal conference with the reviewer, which can strengthen your chances for a successful outcome.
  2. Supplemental Claim Lane – the case is reopened, and a claimant can submit new evidence and arguments to support their case which the VA will take into consideration. VA-accredited attorneys can also assist with this process, and can assist you with developing the case prior to filing the Supplemental claim.
  3. Appealing to The Board of Veterans’ Appeals – through this more traditional process, applicants can either ask for a direct review that involves no new evidence and does not include a hearing, submit new evidence to the board, or attend a hearing before a Veterans’ Law Judge where they can also submit new evidence. No matter which lane is chosen at the BVA, VA-accredited attorneys can assist you with this process.

Each path has its own advantages and roadblocks. VetLaw’s experienced team of attorneys can assist you and recommend the path with the best chance for success based on your unique circumstances.

The VA Appeals Process Provides Many Options to Dispute a Denial

Receiving a denial for VA disability benefits is understandably disheartening and frustrating. Unfortunately, many applicants face denial of benefits for a variety of reasons, but regardless of the VA’s justification, you always have the right to an appeal.

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 gives you three distinct paths to pursue an appeal, and VetLaw can help you choose the VA appeals process that best suits your needs. In order to preserve your effective date and maximize your retroactive or past-due benefits, you have a limited amount of time to file an appeal. Don’t hesitate to contact VetLaw today to start your free case review.