Your Guide to the VA Disability Appeals Process
The experienced veterans benefits attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC understand the unique complications inherent to the VA disability appeals process. If you are a veteran with a disability claim, the path forward is challenging, and if your claim has been denied or ineffectively addressed, it can be more so. The dedicated veterans benefits attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC take a personal interest in veterans affairs and take considerable pride in helping veterans like you appeal your VA decisions and get the benefits you deserve for your dedicated service to our country. In our commitment to veterans, we offer you this guide to the VA disability appeals process. To learn more, contact or call us today at (800) 342-2727.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs
In 2019, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) changed its legacy appeals process to what is now the decision review process. As such if you have received a VA decision that is dated on or after February 19, 2019, you have three options to choose from regarding a review of the decision you have received (in the continuance of your case). These include:
- A Supplemental Claim
- A Higher-Level Review
- A Board Appeal
This means that if the results of the first option you choose are not satisfactory, you can pursue another option (dependent upon eligibility).
Veterans Benefits Claims Are Complicated
One of the most important points to make about veterans benefits claims is that they are exceptionally complicated. The most common reasons for appealing veterans benefits decisions include:
- Benefits were denied for a disability the applicant considers service related.
- The benefits rating assigned is lower than the applicant considers appropriate.
As your guide to the VA disability appeals process, the trusted veterans benefits attorneys at Centonzio Law, PLLC, are standing by to help.
Knowing Which Appeal Option Applies
Before moving forward with appealing the VA decision you have received, it is important to first determine the category of decision it falls into. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) went into effect in 2017, and it directs your appeal options.
AMA Initial Claim Level Rating Decision
If you have received an AMA initial claim level rating decision, you can file your decision review request in any of the appeal venues (or lanes), including a supplemental claim, a higher-level review, or an appeal with the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA or Board).
AMA Supplemental Claim Rating Decision
If you have received an AMA supplemental claim rating decision, you have the same breadth of options related to your decision review request that are available to those who receive AMA initial claim level rating decisions.
AMA Higher-Level Review Rating Decision
If you have received an AMA higher-level review rating decision, your appeal options are limited to either filing a decision review request via a supplemental claim or filing an appeal with the BVA. Higher-level review decisions cannot be appealed via the higher-level review process.
The Appeals Options
An important facet of appealing a VA disability decision is understanding what each level of appeal encompasses.
At the supplemental claim level, the VA will proceed with re-adjudicating your case only if you can present or identify new, relevant evidence with the submission of your appeal.
in the higher-level review lane, the VA will not take any new evidence into consideration regarding your case. You will, however, have the opportunity to engage in a one-time telephone conference with the reviewer in your case. This reviewer will engage in what is known as a de novo review, which is a standard of review that involves using the original record while applying the law to the evidence at hand without yielding to the original ruling (as appropriate). If the higher-level reviewer in your case finds an error in the VA’s Duty to Assist, your case will be returned to the lower level for the necessary corrections to be made.
With a Board appeal, you have three options regarding the docket you want your appeal to be scheduled in, including:
- The BVA Evidence Only Docket – With the BVA evidence only option, you can submit additional evidence at the time you file your BVA Notice of Disagreement (NOD) or within 90 days of submitting your NOD.
- The BVA Direct Docket – With the BVA direct docket, you will not have the option of submitting additional evidence, and the BVA’s decision will be predicated on the evidence already of record. The advantage of filing on the direct docket is that you will receive your final decision more quickly.
- The BVA Hearing Docket – With the BVA hearing docket, you will not only be provided with the opportunity to testify on behalf of your appeal at a BVA hearing but will also be allowed to submit additional evidence in defense of your case (either at the time of the hearing or within 90 days of the hearing).
There is no denying that the VA disability process is complicated and that the appeals process is more so. Having a formidable veterans benefits attorney in your corner from the outset is always well advised.
Seek the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Veterans Benefits Attorney Today
If your veterans disability claim has been denied or your assigned rating doesn’t match the level of disability you have experienced, successfully appealing the VA’s decision is a lengthy and complicated journey that calls out for professional legal guidance. Your case – and your future – however, are far too important to leave to chance. While your guide to the VA disability appeals process can help you make the right decisions for you moving forward, nothing can replace having a skilled veterans benefits attorney on your side. At Centonzio Law, PLLC, we recognize the gravity of your situation and are committed to effectively employing the full force of our impressive experience in pursuit of your case’s most advantageous resolution. To learn more, please do not wait to contact or call us today at (800) 342-2727.