You’ve filed your disability claim with VA, and have waited patiently. You now receive word that your claim was denied. Understandably, most people would feel angry, hurt, and frustrated by this process. It is important to know that a VA disability claim denial is very common for the initial claim.
This post will discuss some of the most common reasons for a claim denial, how to appeal a VA claim, and what you can do to get the decision reversed.
Common Reasons Why Your VA Disability Claim Was Denied
First thing is, don’t get discouraged. It is very common for first-time VA disability applicants to have their claim denied. This is true even if you have a valid claim and submitted the necessary VA forms. The system relies upon the fact that many people will drop their claims when they receive a denial letter. Remember, if you have been denied VA disability benefits, you have a right to file an appeal and seek legal advice.
Here are some of the most common reasons for a VA disability claim denial:
- Paperwork Errors – Omitting essential information and records
- No Diagnosis – Some claims include the proof of exposure to a harmful agent but do not include evidence this resulted in a service-connected disability
- No Evidence Your Condition is Service-Connected – you need to provide relevant evidence that your disability is directly connected to your military service record
- Didn’t Attend a Required Medical Exam or Treatment – If you do not attend required medical exams or treatments, the VA may view your claim as fraudulent
Often the reasons for claim denial are complex and confusing. An experienced VA disability lawyer can help review your case and help you understand all of your options.
How To Appeal If Your VA Disability Claim Was Denied?
If your VA disability claim was denied, you might feel overwhelmed and frustrated, but do not give up. Thanks to the VA Appeals Modernization Act, appeals for denied claims take much less time and have a more straightforward process. If your claim was denied, you have three options to appeal:
Request a Higher Level Claim Review
You can ask to have a more experienced reviewer look over your claim for any potential errors. You cannot submit any new evidence at this stage. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can file a supplemental claim or request a board review.
File a Supplemental Claim
This option allows you to submit new evidence for your case, and the VA will consider this. This option should take approximately 125 days for a review.
Appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
If you choose this option, your disputed claim goes to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. You need to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of your denial letter’s receipt date. This notice states you do not agree with the denial and choose to appeal to the Board. This option can take more time before an appeal hearing is scheduled.
At this level of appeal, you can choose from the following options:
- In-person court hearing
- Virtual hearing held remotely by video conference
- Submit new evidence to review with your existing claim only, but no hearing date
What Should I Do To Prepare For My VA Disability Appeal?
While you wait for your appeal to move forward, there are many helpful things to do to prepare for your hearing.
- Request A Copy of Your VA Case File: Read through your file carefully and look for any evidence or information that might be missing.
- Keep Accurate Records: Keep copies of all medical tests, examinations, procedures, and diagnoses and collect any evidence or information that may be useful in your case.
- Make Copies of Everything: Keep paper copies of all your files and make digital copies as backups.
- Use Registered Mail or Email: This way, you can record any reports or information you submit for your claim and the date you sent them.
- Prepare to Wait: The appeals process takes time, and it is crucial to prepare yourself to be patient. If you do not get the result you want at this stage, there is always another chance to appeal.
How A Veteran’s Disability Lawyer Can Help With Your Claim
The VA disability claims system is complex and can seem overwhelming. This is especially true when you are waiting on needed benefits for yourself or your loved ones. If your claim was denied, one of the best things to do is talk to an experienced veterans’ disability lawyer in your area.
A lawyer with VA attorney accreditation has experience dealing with the paperwork and appeals process. Attorneys can help review your case to give you the best chance possible to win on appeal. They understand how the system works and can help you submit the correct paperwork, gather evidence, and fight for your benefits.
In fact, only a VA-accredited lawyer can submit paperwork to the VA. Since many VA offices remain closed during COVID, only a VA-accredited lawyer can access the documents required to appeal your denial.
VA-accredited lawyers also work on contingency. So, it won’t cost you any money upfront and only a small fee if you win your claim. If your appealed case wins, then the VA is still required to pay your legal fees.
If you have VA disability claim questions, LegalASAP can help connect you with a veteran’s disability lawyer in your area who will help you in every step of the legal process. Contact us today to get started.