How to Disagree with a Veterans Administration Decision
If the Veterans Administration issues a decision that you disagree with, do you have any options? Every day, the VA issues thousands of decisions that affect Veteran healthcare services, Veteran compensation, Veteran education and training benefits, and Veteran burial benefits. When they issue these decisions, they are required to include VA Form 4107, “Your Rights to Appeal our Decision”.
If the VA denies a disability claim, your first step would be to appeal the decision. Additionally, if you disagree with the disability percentage rating, or you think there is an error regarding the effective date, or, if you disagree with any other aspect of the decision, you may appeal the decision. The appeal process can take time and involve a lot of paperwork. But in the long run, the time initially spent on the appeal could pay off.
Here are the steps, in order, that make up the appeal process:
- Notice of Disagreement (NOD), a written statement that you disagree with a decision the VA made regarding your claim. When submitting an NOD, you must be specific about your disagreement. If decisions were made on multiple items, be clear about which item you are addressing. A NOD can be accepted only if a final decision was made, and must be filed within one year of the date of the final decision. If you have missed the filing deadline, you may file another claim for the same condition or request that your previous claim be re-opened with new and material evidence
- Statement of Case (SOC), a summary of the evidence considered, actions taken, decisions made, and the laws governing the decision. A SOC must be done when a NOD is filed and denied or when new evidence is received. Once the first SOC is completed on an appeal, subsequent SOCs are considered Supplemental Statements of the Case (SSOC). An appeal may have several SSOCs.
- Formal Appeal- An appeal must be formalized, or “ perfected” using VA Form 9, Appeal to Board of Veterans Appeals. This form must be received no later than either one year from the date of the decision letter or 60 days after the date of the Statement of the Case.
- Hearings (Optional)- Hearings are held at the VA Regional Office by a Hearing Officer (HO) and provide an opportunity for claimants to present evidence in person
- Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA), located in Washington DC, is the highest appellate body in VA. Although most decisions are made in Washington, BVA does have travel boards that come to local offices. However, appeals can take from 2 to 4 years (or more) to decide.
- United States Court of Appeals for Veterans' Claims (CAVC)
Because the VA has to adhere to laws and regulations that spell out exactly what proof is needed to substantiate a claim, the appeal process can be very lengthy, complicated and stressful for Veterans. Therefore, it is very important that the original claim be fully developed, providing all supporting evidence and documents required by the VA. By crossing all of your t's and dotting all of your i's, you can increase your chances of success the first time around.
Ted Puntillo is director of Veteran Services for Solano County. Reach him at 784-6590 or TEPuntillo@SolanoCounty.com. The Solano County Veteran Services Office, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield, is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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