How To Appeal A VA Disability Claim Decision
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers VA disability benefits to certain veterans. To be eligible for VA disability benefits, you need to:
- have previous active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training service, AND
- have a medical condition currently affecting you physically or mentally.
In addition, at least ONE of the following statements must be true for you to be eligible for VA disability benefits:
- Your medical condition is service-related and arose during your time serving in the military
- You had a medical condition before serving in the military that became worse as a result of your military service
- You have developed a disability after serving in the military that is nevertheless a result of your military service
The VA will deny your claim if you don’t meet eligibility requirements. However, sometimes, the VA denies claims even when applicants are eligible. For example, maybe you have a denied claim because you haven’t provided enough evidence to show your condition is service-related.
Understanding how to appeal VA claim decisions is vital in these circumstances. Our New York VA disability benefits lawyers at Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. can assist you with the appeal process as well.
Reasons to Request a VA Decision Review
The VA allows applicants to request a decision review (which is essentially an appeal) if they received a claim denial dated on or after February 19, 2019.
There are two main reasons you may request a VA decision review. You might request such a review if the VA denied your claim, stating your condition doesn’t appear to be service-related. You may also request a VA decision review if you disagree with your VA disability rating. When the VA approves a disability claim, a veteran receives a disability rating. Their rating determines how much money they should receive in benefits every month.
Understanding the VA Disability Appeal Process
You have three potential options when requesting a VA decision review:
- Supplemental Claim – You may submit a Supplemental Claim if you wish to submit new supporting evidence you didn’t include with your original claim.
- Higher-Level Review – Do you think the VA representative who reviewed your claim made a mistake when denying it? If so, you can request a Higher-Level Review. This part of the appeal process involves a higher-ranking VA representative taking another look at your claim. The VA allows you to request a Higher-Level Review after submitting a Supplemental Claim if you still receive a denial. However, you can’t submit any new evidence when requesting a Higher-Level Review.
- Board Appeal – You may request a Board Appeal after receiving a decision for your claim, Supplemental Claim, or Higher-Level Review. A Board Appeal involves a Veterans Law Judge reviewing your case again. You can only request a single Board Appeal for a given claim or case.
When requesting a Board Appeal, you have three options:
- Requesting a Veterans Law Judge to review the information you have already provided
- Submitting new information or evidence for a Veterans Law Judge to review
- Requesting a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge, during which you may (but don’t have to) submit additional evidence
A legal professional can handle the various tasks your review request involves. For example, a lawyer could gather new evidence to submit with a Supplemental Claim.
How Long Do I Have to Appeal a VA Decision?
How long you have to appeal a VA decision depends on the method you choose. The following breakdown explains the deadlines:
- Supplemental Claim – You may technically submit a Supplemental Claim at any time. However, the VA urges you to submit a Supplemental Claim within a year of receiving the VA’s decision letter.
- Higher-Level Review – The VA states you have one year from the time of receiving a claim decision letter to request a Higher-Level Review.
- Board Appeal – Per the VA, you have a year from the date of your decision letter to request a Board Appeal. However, exceptions may apply in cases of contested claims.
Act fast if you wish to request a VA decision review. Failing to meet these deadlines could prevent you from receiving benefits.
Speak with a Veterans Disability Claim Lawyer
Appealing a VA claim denial doesn’t need to be as intimidating as you might assume. At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., a New York veteran’s disability claim lawyer is available to help you throughout every step of the appeal process. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at 516-496-0400 for a free case review today.