Veteran Affairs (VA) Appeal Process
It is rather quite common for initial veterans disability claims to be denied. In these cases, veterans are able to appeal the decision by filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Below is some valuable information regarding the VA appeals process.
Notice of Disagreement
When a veteran needs to appeal a denial, they need to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the Department of Veteran Affairs. To file a Notice of Disagreement, one must use the VA form 21-0958. Once the VA sends you your letter of denial, you have exactly one year to file your NOD with the VA. Although its good to keep in mind that it is one year from when the VA sends you the letter, not when you receive it.
When filling out the Notice of Disagreement form, it is best to simply state that you disagree with the decisions made by the VA and would like to appeal. Many veterans may be frustrated by their denial and will want to explain in detail why the VA’s decision is incorrect. However, going into detail will limit your ability to appeal issues you forgot to mention in the NOD or arose after filing the NOD. Although if you forget to mention an issue or disagreement in the NOD, you will need to provide medical evidence at the appeal or prove that the VA made a legal error while going over your initial application. Overall keep the NOD simple without specifics; Make sure you include the following within your NOD:
- Include the date of the denial letter
- Include the ratings decision (if applicable)
- List the issues you disagree with
- State you intend to appeal those decisions
After you list the issues you disagree with, make sure you state that the list isn’t an all-inclusive list and is not limited to the issues you listed. This allows you to be able to appeal issues that you may have forgotten to list within the NOD during the appeal.
Select The Type Of Appeal
Once your Notice of Disagreement has been processed and approved by the VA, they will ask you if you rather have your appeal sent straight to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) or reviewed on a de novo basis. Having your appeal reviewed on a “de novo” basis means you’ll have your case review by a Decision Review Officer (DRO) at your regional office. A DRO is an experienced senior VA claims examiner who is authorized to reverse or modify the VA’s original decision. It is recommended that a veteran go to a DRO review before requesting an appeal with the BVA because the DRO process is more successful and tends to be much faster. If a veteran is denied in a DRO review, they can then request for an appeal in front of the BVA.
What Happens Now
If you have filed a request for a DRO review or hearing, your regional VA office will ask you to provide information and documentation regarding the issues you would like appealed. If the DRO review results in no changes and you are still denied benefits, you may then request for a BVA appeal.
If you have filed a request for a BVA appeal, the VA will send you a statement called the “Statement of the Case” or SOC. This document goes into detail about why the VA denied you benefits; you will receive the statement in a few months after you send your request. When you receive the SOC, you then have 60 days to file your actual appeal with the BVA. You will need to fill out VA Form 9 “Appeal to Board of Veterans Appeals” to file for an actual appeal with the VA. Once you have filed VA Form 9, it will take a couple months for them to transfer your case from your regional office. The BVA will contact you when they get your file with instructions on what to do next.