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Appeals for Denied Benefits


Veterans appeals

Veterans who have fought for our country deserve to be compensated when military service leads to injury. Unfortunately, many veterans’ initial claims for disability benefits are denied, or their disability rating is not as high as it should be.

If your claim for benefits has been denied, don’t give up! There are many ways to appeal an unfavorable decision.

Notice of Disagreement

If you believe your disability claim was wrongly denied, or you believe that your disability merits a higher rating, your first step in the veterans benefits appeals process is to file a notice of disagreement (“NOD”) with the regional VA office where you submitted your claim. Your NOD must be in writing and include the decision you are appealing, that you disagree with the claim decision, and that you wish to appeal. You have one year from the date your decision was made to file the NOD.

Following your submission of the NOD, you can elect 1) to have your appeal processed by the Decision Review Officer, or 2) the Traditional Appeal Process. With a DRO review, there may be a hearing where you and your advocate can present your evidence and arguments for why your claim should be granted. If you elect the traditional appeal route, your claim’s decision may be overturned based on new evidence or an error by the decision maker. No matter which route you choose, the reviewer can decide to grant or deny your claim. If denied, the VA will mail you a notice of the denial, with an explanation of why they denied you, which is called a statement of the case (“SOC”), and a VA Form 9, which must be filled out to continue your appeal.

Board of Veterans’ Appeals

If the regional VA office does not change your initial claim denial or rating decision, you can appeal the VA’s decision to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). The BVA is a panel of VA officers, located in Washington D.C., which reviews the decisions of the regional VA offices. In order to file an appeal with the BVA after a denied benefits claim, you must file VA Form 9 within sixty (60) days from the date of the SOC notice letter or one (1) year from the rating decision notice letter.

After filing your formal appeal, the BVA may schedule a hearing. To attend this hearing, you can choose to travel to Washington D.C., request that a BVA officer travel to your regional VA office, or complete the hearing via video conference.

Your advocate will attend this hearing with you and help you explain your claim to the BVA. After the hearing, the BVA will review your file and the transcript of the hearing. The BVA will then either grant your claim, deny your claim, or remand your denied claim to your local VA office for reconsideration. This process will take some time. The VA’s goal is to have all appeals resolved within 400 days, or a little over a year. In actuality, this process can take up to three years.

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

If you are not satisfied with the decision of the BVA, you can take your claim to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. This is a traditional proceeding, as opposed to the administrative processes of the VA. In this appeal, your advocate will file a brief and present an oral argument outlining your claim and any errors believed to be made in the processing of your claim.  Your advocate cannot present new evidence to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, however, your advocate can review your claims file and determine which records should be used in your brief or during oral argument.  The Secretary will be represented by an experienced attorney at the Court, so it is important to be aware of deadlines and procedural rules.  Advocates at Vets National Advocates are licensed to practice before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and are ready to help you, or a veteran you know, pursue an appeal at this stage.

Other Options for Denied Claims

If you have reached the end of the appeals process and are still not satisfied, you have several options. First, you can appeal to the Federal Circuit. Second, you can accept the decision of the courts. Third, you can request that your regional VA office reopen your denied benefits claim.

Denied Benefits? Contact Vets National Advocates

Receiving disability compensation from the VA can be a long and challenging process, especially when you’re appealing a denied benefits application. The veterans benefits team at Vets National Advocates can help guide you through these steps, and make sure you understand your options.

Don’t let a denial stop you from receiving the benefits you earned defending our freedom.
Contact us today or call 1 (877) 777-4021 to speak with a disability advocate.


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