Veterans’ Benefits Claims

Veterans’ Benefits Claims – “Delay, deny, and hope that I die.”  Many Veterans have heard or uttered these words in relation to a claim before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  While this quote is not technically accurate, as most VA employees genuinely do try to help Veterans get the benefits they deserve, the claims process can certainly feel overwhelming, exhausting, and downright painful at times.  Backlogs, bureaucratic red tape, and convoluted legalese makes the whole process feel far more burdensome than it should.

Gwendolyn Osborn-Gustavson Attorney

Author – Gwendolyn Osborn-Gustavson

But it’s not supposed to be that way.  In fact, claims before VA are unlike nearly every other type of legal claim.  Where most legal cases are “adversarial” (meaning you are fighting against someone or something who is trying to block you at every turn), VA claims are specifically non-adversarial.  VA is required to help you develop your claim and give you the benefit of the doubt when making decisions.  This means that if you can tell VA where you were treated in or after service, give enough details for them to research an event or injury in service, or otherwise give them information that will allow them to go out and obtain potentially relevant evidence, VA is supposed to help.  And it means that if the evidence for and against your claim is about equal, VA is supposed to decide in your favor.

As a Veteran, you are entitled to compensation benefits for any disease or injury that was incurred in or aggravated by your military service.  You may also be entitled to pension depending on the level of your disability and your family income.  Your family members may also be entitled to benefits from VA.  We urge you to call for a free consultation to discuss your case.  Even if you don’t need an attorney right now (and many cases can be resolved without having to pay anyone a dime), we’re happy to help you figure out what your options are.

Veterans’ Benefits Claims

The Claims Process

The claims process is simple… on paper.  In practice, many factors cause delays, add countless decisions to the file before you get the one you want, and otherwise can make it feel like a nightmare.  Your best bet is to speak with your representative to find out what options you have and if there is anything you can do.

The basic process (assuming you don’t get a grant on any of the decisions along the way) looks like this:

Step 1. Claim. You file a request for benefits on a VA Form 21-566EZ or through your eBenefits account online.

Step 2. Rating Decision:  VA (the “Agency of Original Jurisdiction” or AOJ, which is typically your local VA Regional Office) issues a decision that grants or denies your claim (or partially grants and partially denies)

a.If VA grants your service connection claim but assigns a lower rating or later effective date than you believe is appropriate, proceed to Step 3.

b.If VA partially grants your claim (for example, increases your rating from 30 to 50, but you believe you deserve a 100 percent rating), proceed to Step 3.

Step 3. Notice of Disagreement:  You file your first appeal (on a VA Form 21-0958) as to any portion of your claim that was denied and with which you disagree.

a. Important Deadline: The deadline for submitting a Notice of Disagreement is one year from the date VA issued the Rating Decision.

Step 4. Statement of the Case:  VA issues a decision that clarifies the reasons for the denial of your claim.

Step 5. Substantive Appeal:  You file your second appeal (usually on a VA Form 9) as to any portion of your claim that was denied and with which you disagree.

a. Important Deadline: The deadline for submitting a Substantive Appeal is 60 days from the date VA issued the Statement of the Case or one year from the date VA issued the Rating Decision, whichever comes later.

Step 6. BVA Decision:  The file is certified from the AOJ to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), which makes a decision.  This decision could be a grant (or partial grant), denial (or partial denial), or remand.  A remand returns your case to the AOJ for additional development or adjudication.

Step 7. Appeal to Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  You file your final appeal as to any portion of your claim that was denied by BVA and with which you disagree.  At this stage, the case is taken out of the “Agency” level (that is, the next adjudicator is not employed by the VA, but instead the case goes to a federal court).  Most Veterans need an attorney at this stage.  Appellate litigation at the CAVC is adversarial, meaning VA’s attorneys will fight against you to show why the BVA decision should be upheld.

In addition, you may request or receive a Decision Review Officer Decision after you file your Notice of Disagreement, and you may receive one or more Supplemental Statements of the Case after VA issues its Statement of the Case, you file your Substantive Appeal, or BVA remands your case for further action by the AOJ.

***Please note that as of August 23, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Veterans Appeals Modernization & Improvement Act, which will dramatically change the appeal process and take away some Veterans’ rights.  Once VA designs and implements its new process, you will need to make sure you speak with your representative or an attorney immediately if you get a decision, as you may not have the same opportunities to submit new evidence if you appeal that you do at present.***

Veterans’ Benefits Claims

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I don’t know where to start. Can I just hire you to deal with everything for me?

a. While we are happy to talk to you for free about the VA claims process and your specific case at any point, you may not even need to hire an attorney – now or ever. In many cases, a competent VSO or other agent can represent you at no charge to file a claim, and many such cases are granted right from the beginning or during an initial appeal with the help of that free representative.

Attorneys are not permitted to charge a fee for representing a Veteran before VA until a Notice of Disagreement has been filed.  It would be unfair for an attorney to charge you a fee to do work that you can do yourself or have someone do at no charge to get a favorable result.  We pride ourselves on only taking cases where we believe our involvement will make an actual difference, rather than cases where we can profit off of an inevitable payout without doing anything in the meantime.

2. I have already filed my appeal, and think I need an attorney. I can’t afford to pay one right now, though.  What can I do?

a. The good news is that there is no up-front cost to hiring us (or most accredited attorneys, for that matter) to represent you before VA. VA regulations allow attorneys to charge up to 33 1/3 percent of any retroactive benefits you receive.  This means we only get paid if your claim is granted retroactively, so there is no risk to you.

We may also ask you to reimburse us for reasonable costs associated with representing you.  For example, if we need to conduct or hire someone to conduct research into service department records or pay a doctor to provide an independent medical exam or review, we would ask you reimburse us for those costs.

3. I am a Veteran and I was recently diagnosed with a disability I believe is related to service. What do I need to show VA in order to get compensation for this disability?

a. You need to show VA both that you have a current disability (your recent diagnosis) and that this disability was incurred or aggravated in service. You may be able to show the incurrence or aggravation by having VA get service treatment records showing treatment for your disability or for an injury that led to the current disability, by getting lay statements from anyone who witnessed your injury or noticed the onset of symptoms that could have been the initial manifestation of your disability, or with other types of evidence.

4. I was sexually assaulted in service and never reported it. I now have PTSD based on my military sexual trauma (MST), but how can I prove my stressor happened?

a. VA has lenient regulations for cases involving personal assault, specifically because it is rare for people to report these assaults when they happen. VA allows other types of evidence to help substantiate that a personal assault happened.

Evidence of behavioral changes after an assault can often be used to show that it happened.  For example, lay statements from those who were able to observe your changes in behavior or medical treatment records for sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, or even unexplained physical symptoms could show VA that something happened to affect you.  Likewise, service records showing a change in performance or requests for transfers may indicate that you experienced something that impacted your ability to continue living as you were before the assault.

We understand the struggles of Veterans with MST-based PTSD, and urge you to call for a free consultation.  The VA process can bring back a lot of bad memories, especially because you may repeatedly have to go through everything that happened, and despite the liberalized regulations, it can still be hard to convince VA that your MST happened.  If we can take your case, we will do all we can to minimize the number of times you have to relive your experiences for the sake of your claim.

5. My service records were lost in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center. Shouldn’t VA give me the benefit of the doubt and trust what I tell them about what those records contain?

a. This is a more complicated question than it seems. In all cases, VA is required to weight the evidence and give benefit of the doubt where the evidence is even on both sides.  And while a lack of evidence cannot be construed as negative evidence, VA must also consider the remaining evidence to assess your credibility and the likelihood that something happened in service.  Unfortunately, there is no rule requiring VA to take you at your word because the records were destroyed.  Every case like this is treated on an individual basis.  Please feel free to call us to discuss what other options you may have to help support your claim.

6. I was in Vietnam and have developed a cancer that is not on the Agent Orange presumptive list. Can I still get benefits?

a. Yes, if you can show that the cancer was caused by your in-service exposure to Agent Orange (or that your service otherwise caused the development of your cancer). Instead of being granted a presumption, your claim will be treated like any other, and VA will weigh all of the evidence.

You will most likely need to provide a medical report from a doctor who provides a detailed rationale for why he or she believes your cancer is “at least as likely as not” or “more likely than not” related to your military service.  Ideally, that report will cite scientific or medical literature in support of its conclusions.  VA may also decide to schedule you for an exam to address whether there is a relationship.

A lot of diseases are not yet on the presumptive list, but recent medical literature is starting to suggest a relationship.

7. My spouse recently died, and I believe that his or her cause of death is related to service. Can I get compensation?

a. You can file a claim of entitlement to Dependents Indemnity Compensation. If service caused or substantially and materially contributed to your spouse’s death, you may be entitled to a monthly benefit.

8. I have one disability that is rated at 50 percent, two at 30 percent, and another one at 10 percent. This is 120 percent!  Why is VA only paying me at the 80 percent rate?

a. VA uses a “combined ratings table” to calculate payments when a Veteran has multiple service-connected disabilities. Instead of adding 50+30+30+10, they use this chart to determine what the combined rating will be.  VA has an explanation on their website, here:  https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/rates-index.asp

9. Okay, so I can’t get a 120 percent payment. But my disabilities all together are totally impairing.  I can’t work!  I should be getting higher ratings.  What do I do?

a. You can file a claim for an increased rating for any or all of your disabilities. You may also want to consider filing a request for a total rating due to individual unemployability (TDIU, or IU).  This is a benefit that pays at the 100 percent rate when a Veteran’s service-connected disabilities prevent him or her from being able to find or maintain a gainful occupation.

10. I was diagnosed with my disability in service, 20 years ago. I filed a claim last year, and VA just granted benefits from the date of my claim.  Shouldn’t the benefits go back to when I was first diagnosed?

a. Probably not. In most cases, benefits can only be granted from the date of claim.  However, in some cases, it may be possible to get an earlier effective date, and we urge you to call us to discuss whether you may have a viable basis for an effective date appeal.

11. My income is technically above the poverty line, but the only reason for this is because my employer is sympathetic and basically helping me out financially, not because I’m able to do much work. My doctor says I’m unemployable.  Can I get individual unemployability benefits?

a. TDIU or IU is allowed where a Veteran cannot work in a gainful occupation due to his or her service-connected disabilities.  Although “gainful” is usually defined as being above the poverty line, VA has carved out an exception for what it calls “protected” employment.  In such cases, your income may not be considered gainful despite it being over the poverty line.

12. I am separated from my spouse, and he or she has just requested that my benefits be apportioned. I can barely afford to survive as it is.  What can I do?

a. First, try not to panic. You will need to show VA that you cannot afford the apportionment, or that you can afford a smaller apportionment than what was proposed.  Please give us a call so we can go over the particulars of your situation with you.

13. My spouse is a Veteran with a severe service-connected disability. I have to do everything—cooking, bathing, cleaning, driving.  My spouse gets a total rating, but is there anything more I can do?  My income has decreased because I spend so much time at home.

a. Your spouse may be entitled to a Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) based on the need for the regular aid and attendance of another person. Additionally, if he or she is permanently confined to your home (not just for a period of bedrest or convalescence), he or she may be entitled to an SMC based on being Housebound.

There are also many other types of Special Monthly Compensations, and these are often overlooked by adjudicators and representatives.  Call today to see if your family may be able to benefit from an additional payment each month.  Some are about one or two hundred dollars a month, but some types of SMC will provide payments of thousands more a month.  For example, a Veteran with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be entitled to SMC(t), which pays (as of 2017) $8,343.91 for a single Veteran with no children—and that payment only goes up with the addition of dependents.

14. My friend filed for and got benefits in just a few months. He says my attorney is doing me a disservice and it shouldn’t be this hard.  Should I fire my attorney?

a. We can’t give you advice about what to do with your attorney or with your claim if we know you are represented by another attorney. However, every case is different, and many factors can impact how quickly you get a decision and how favorable that decision is.  It’s impossible to compare one case with another and expect an identical outcome.  If you are concerned with how your representative is handling your case, your best bet is to contact your representative directly with your concerns.

15. I went to VA for treatment, and I think they committed malpractice. Can I sue?

a. There are a few options if you are injured because of malpractice at a VA medical facility. One of the most common options is to file what is known as an 1151 claim.  This is a tort claim against VA that is authorized by federal statute.  The claims process for this type of claim is the same as that for a compensation claim, and any award calculation will use the same compensation payment rates.  If you think you have been injured because of a medical error by VA, contact us today for a free consultation.

16. I filed for compensation for PTSD, and VA granted service connection, but is calling it depression. How do I get them to treat it as PTSD?  I believe this is my correct diagnosis.

a. When VA assesses whether service connection is warranted and evaluates a disability, they must look at all of the evidence to determine the appropriate diagnosis to use for rating purposes. For mental disorders, the rating criteria (how they determine what rating to assign) is the same for all diagnoses, so as long as all of your psychiatric symptoms are being considered, the diagnosis used by VA in its decision is irrelevant in terms of the amount of compensation you receive.

However, sometimes VA will only consider some psychiatric symptoms (for example, if you are service connected for depression, they may consider your depressive symptoms for the rating but not hallucinations if they think the latter are exclusively due to a non-service connected PTSD diagnosis).  If this happens and you feel your rating is too low as a result, you may need to include your disagreement with the implied denial of service connection for PTSD with your appeal of the rating assigned for depression.  These types of cases can become somewhat complex, and we urge you to call if you think something strange is happening in your case or issues are being overlooked.  We may be able to help.

17. My spouse was a Veteran who just died. I applied for DIC benefits, and VA told me I am not an eligible surviving spouse because my spouse’s first marriage hadn’t terminated before we got married.  What does this mean?  My spouse told me that the prior marriage ended in divorce.  What can I do?

a. This is actually not all that uncommon. Sometimes, a Veteran attempts to remarry without realizing that a prior marriage was not legally or effectively terminated (by death, divorce, or annulment).  In these cases, the attempted remarriage is not actually legal or valid.  This does not necessarily mean your spouse was attempting to lead a double life or was any less committed to your relationship.  In most of the cases we’ve seen, it was a genuine misunderstanding and assumption that a divorce is automatic after a separation of some period.  Although some states recognize “common law marriage,” there is no such thing as common law divorce, but myths nonetheless persist about the latter.  We’ve seen many cases where this misunderstanding led to an attempted marriage that was not legally valid despite that being the intention of both partners.

As long as a legal spouse does not come forward to claim DIC benefits, you may still be able to win DIC benefits.  This is because for DIC purposes, a surviving spouse can be either a legal spouse or someone who entered into an attempted marriage without knowledge of a legal impediment to that marriage like the one you describe.  Give us a call to see if we can help you sort your situation out!

18. VA is trying to deny me. I don’t want to go to another exam, and I don’t want to answer the same questions over and over again.  Can’t I just have them make a decision?

a. Technically, yes. However, even though VA is supposed to help you develop your claim, sometimes you will need to help them in turn.  If they have questions that need answers, and they don’t get them, the odds are good that nothing will change for you.  If you can’t make an exam because of transportation, one of your disabilities, or some other reason, VA may be able to work with you, but if you just refuse to show up, they can’t help you.

Sometimes VA is flexible and can arrange an exam over the phone or can accept a Disability Benefits Questionnaire completed by your doctor instead of an exam.  You or your representative may be able to reach out to VA and see if there is a way they can work with you.  VA employees are human beings, and most are just trying to figure out the cases in front of them.  Although we’ve certainly heard reports of hostile VA employees, our experience is that most really do want to help you as much as they can.

19. If I get another denial, I’m going to kill myself. I can’t see the point in fighting any longer.

a. If you are feeling suicidal, please call your doctor or 911 right away. VA also has a confidential hotline you can call if you are in crisis.  The number is 1-800-273-8255 (then press 1).  If you can’t make a phone call, you can also text 838255 or use the online chat available at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

We understand that the claims process is painful at times, and to be quite frank and downright unlawyerly, it sucks to be told to “hurry up and wait” or see the same boilerplate reasons for your case being denied over and over again.  But this doesn’t mean you should give up.  If you are not in an immediate crisis (if you are, please contact someone noted in the above paragraph), please call us.  Sometimes cases get stuck just because VA needs one key piece of information.  We’re happy to see if we can help you identify what that information is and how to get the case to move on.

20. I got something from VA saying I can get a faster decision if I waive my right to submit additional evidence. Why shouldn’t I do this? I believe I’ve provided VA with everything they need to grant my claim already.

a. You should never waive any rights before you consult with your representative. If you don’t have a representative who can give you clear answers about this, please call us and we’d be happy to discuss your case and whether this is an appropriate course of action for you.

21. I used to have a 10 percent rating, and recently got an increase to a 100 percent rating going back for the last year. But I think my payment was too low!  What gives?

a. There could be a couple different things going on here. If you were getting a VA pension for a nonservice connected disability, your monthly payments up until now likely would have been higher than the 10 percent rate.  When VA calculates a retroactive payment, it is based on what you should have been receiving (a 100 percent rating) and what you were actually paid (a pension rate).

It also could be that VA has withheld a portion of your award in order for VA and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to conduct audits of your accounts.  In most cases, a Veteran will only be entitled to their military retirement pay or their VA compensation benefits, but in some cases, a Veteran may be entitled to both their military retirement pay and VA benefits.  Before VA can authorize this, they and DFAS must usually complete an audit to verify your eligibility.

Finally, there could be something more concerning going on.  If you think that VA messed up its calculations or that something else might have happened, call your representative right away.

(More detailed discussion of claims process and issues)

Step One:  Filing a Veterans’ Benefits Claim

There is no time limit for filing a VA claim.  You can file the day you leave service, or you can file 50 years later.  However, we strongly urge all Veterans to file as soon as you become aware that you may have a disability that is related to service, and to appeal any adverse decisions in a timely manner.  The reason for this is that even if it takes years to win your case, you will be awarded retroactive benefits once and if you do win.  If you let the claim “die” by not appealing and later file a new claim, your benefits may only go back to the date of the new claim.  For example, if you filed a claim on January 1, 2014 that was denied on January 1, 2015, and then you file a new claim on January 1, 2016, you could miss out on two years’ of benefits.  If that was an initial service-connection claim and you had no disabilities that were already service-connected, and if you could have won a total rating for that period, you would miss out on nearly $70,000 (possibly more than that if you had any eligible dependents like a spouse or children).

VA currently requires that claims be filed on a VA Form 21-526 or 21-526EZ, or via your online eBenefits account.

When you file your claim, you can choose to have it processed under the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) Program.  This program was designed to help expedite the claims process.  The plus side of this program is that if you can submit all the necessary evidence with your claim, you’ll receive a faster decision.  If you do not submit all the necessary evidence, the claim may be moved to the traditional claims review process.  We strongly urge all Veterans to consult with their representative if they wish to file a claim under the FDC program, as it is easy to miss key evidence.

When you are thinking of filing a claim, you may want to consider obtaining a representative.  Many Veterans Service Organizations have representatives who can help you at no cost.  There is also a list of accredited representatives available on VA’s website:  https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/

First decision – Veterans’ Benefits Claims

After you have filed your claim, VA may undertake additional “development” to obtain more information.  VA may ask for information about an in-service event, treatment locations, employment records, or other documents.  It is in your best interest to help provide this information or get any necessary records yourself.  You should consult with your representative to make sure you get this right.

Once VA has obtained the relevant records (or determined that none exist), they will issue a Rating Decision.  The office that issues this decision is usually the VA Regional Office in a Veteran’s home state, but sometimes cases will be “farmed out” to offices that have fewer cases to process.

First appeal – one year time limit!

If you are unhappy with any aspect of your Rating Decision, you should file an appeal or request reconsideration.  If you request reconsideration, VA will issue a new Rating Decision.  In most cases, it will be virtually identical to the first one, unless VA overlooked a significant piece of evidence that they see on review.  If you file an appeal, you may get a more favorable decision, but it may take longer.

To file an appeal, you must submit a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on a VA Form 21-0958.  The deadline for filing this appeal is one year from the date VA notified you of its decision.  At the moment, we recommend that you file as soon as possible so your case can keep moving.

In your NOD, you can elect to have your case follow the traditional appeals process or Decision Review Officer (DRO) process.  Typically, with the traditional appeals process, you will receive the next decision faster than if you select the DRO process, but the decision will be a Statement of the Case (SOC) that expands on the reasons for VA’s denial.  Under the DRO process, your case will be reviewed by a new adjudicator, and they may grant all or some of the benefits you are seeking.  If VA does not grant all of the benefits sought on appeal, they are still required to issue an SOC.

IMPORTANT LAW CHANGE

In August 2017 President Trump signed into law the “Veterans Appeals Modernization & Improvement Act.”  Although this law was designed and intended to streamline the process and end the delays that have plagued VA appeals for so long, it has significant drawbacks and impedes your right as a Veteran to submit new evidence whenever you happen to get it (which, when you are requesting service and other records stored in archives, can take many months and sometimes even more than a year).  Under the new law, it may actually be preferable to wait to submit your appeal until you have had the chance to review the evidence of record with your representative so you can both make sure that all necessary evidence has been added to the file (although you still must make sure to meet any appropriate appeal deadline).

Once VA implements a plan to change its processes in accordance with this law, a Veteran will have only 90 days from the time he or she files a Notice of Disagreement to submit any new evidence.  After that, all decisions made by VA will be based solely on the evidence before VA prior to that point—and VA’s duty to assist you will be very limited.  Right now, duty to assist errors result in countless remands by the BVA and the CAVC every year, but under the new law, the BVA and CAVC’s hands may be tied.  This will severely inhibit Veterans’ rights on appeal, so it is extremely important that you speak to an attorney before filing your appeal once the law goes into effect.  Many attorneys believe that this law is a violation of Veterans’ rights, especially because right now, a Veteran cannot hire an attorney until the appeal stage—so if you file an appeal on your own and then call an attorney who realizes you actually needed to provide some key piece of evidence to get a favorable outcome, it may be too late for the attorney to do anything to help you.  As such, once the law goes into effect, we urge all Veterans to call an attorney as soon as you get a decision from VA (even if you aren’t sure if you need to appeal).  That way, the attorney can work with you to make sure all necessary evidence can be submitted with any necessary appeal and before time runs out.

Second appeal – time limit of 60 days from issuance of SOC or one year from Rating Decision (whichever is later)

If VA issues a Statement of the Case, you should appeal right away.  The time limit for this appeal is only 60 days from the date the SOC was issued (or one year from the date of the Rating Decision, if that deadline falls after 60 days from the date of the SOC).

To appeal, you can use a VA Form 9.  You may elect to have a hearing before a member of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).

Once you have filed your Substantive Appeal, your case will remain open until BVA issues a final decision on your claims.

Supplemental Statement of the Case

If there was evidence that VA failed to consider when it issued the SOC, or if VA receives additional evidence before the case is certified to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, it will issue a Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC).

There is no limit to how many SSOCs VA can issue.  A common pitfall for Veterans is that they keep submitting new evidence to VA, which requires VA to issue one SSOC after another, preventing the case from being sent to BVA for months or years.

SSOCs are also issued if BVA remands a claim for additional development.

BVA Decision

Once the case is transferred to BVA, BVA will issue a decision.  There are three possible outcomes (and sometimes, one decision will contain multiple outcomes, depending on the issues before BVA):  a grant, a denial, or a remand.

A grant is what it sounds like.  BVA grants the benefits sought on appeal.  If BVA grants a claim, the issue will be returned to the AOJ for promulgation and the issuance of a Rating Decision that enacts the grant.  If BVA grants entitlement to service connection, the AOJ will have to determine the appropriate rating and effective date (and if you disagree with any aspect of this decision, you will need to file a new NOD, beginning the appeal process again).  If BVA assigns a particular rating or effective date for an appeal of one of those issues, the AOJ just needs to calculate the award and issue a decision noting what was granted.

A denial, too, is what it sounds like.  BVA denies the benefits sought on appeal.  You have the right to appeal this decision (see below).

A remand is more complicated.  BVA may remand a case because additional development is needed (e.g., VA needs to schedule an exam or request service department records), because VA failed to provide proper notice to you about something that impacts your rights, because new evidence was received after the SOC or the last SSOC and BVA did not receive a waiver of AOJ consideration of this evidence, or for any of many other reasons.  If BVA remands, the case returns to the AOJ for the completion of any tasks directed by BVA, and a new SSOC will be issued if the AOJ cannot grant the benefits sought on appeal after completing that development.

Following a BVA Denial

After a BVA denial, you may submit a Motion to Vacate or Motion for Reconsideration.  You should consult with your representative to determine if these are worthwhile options based on the circumstances of your individual case.

You can also appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), which is a federal court that exclusively reviews issues from VA.  This process is adversarial, which means that VA’s attorneys will fight to have the BVA decision upheld.  If you find yourself in need of an appeal to the CAVC, you should consider hiring an attorney if you do not have one.  You should not have to pay an attorney out of your own pocket.  The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) permits attorneys to be paid directly by the government in the event you obtain a successful outcome from your appeal.

If you would like to speak with us regarding Veterans’ Benefits Claims, please send us an email below or contact our office today.

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