How to Appeal a Veterans Disability Rating or Denial
When those who have given their time and dedication to serve in the military are injured as a result of that service, it only seems fair that they receive disability benefits. Unfortunately, many injured veterans are often awarded a disability benefit amount that is not enough to meet their needs or, worse, they are denied benefits altogether.
If a disabled veteran is injured due to his or her time in the service, a veterans disability lawyer can often help him or her appeal their VA compensation claims to secure the benefits they deserve. However, many people in this situation don’t understand how the appeals process works, or try to work through it alone.
The attorneys at Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell are knowledgeable in the VA disability appeals process and how an applicant should proceed in order to help receive compensation for his or her injuries. Below are some basic steps to help you understand the process and your role in it.
Step 1: Initial application
This may seem obvious, but the first thing that a disabled veteran needs to do to receive benefits is to fill out a disability application. In Florida, you can apply on your own by visiting the regional office located in St. Petersburg, or by visiting the VA website. You can also seek the help of a veterans service organization to help you apply.
When you initially apply, it is important to apply for all the possible service-connected disabilities you think you may be eligible to claim. Even though you can file new claims any time, you can only be paid in most cases from the date you apply, or the date you left service if you applied within one year of leaving service. Also, if you successfully claim more service-related disabilities, then you are in a better position to receive a higher disability rating, which leads to greater benefits.
Step 2: Appealing a decision
- Receiving Your Rating – After you apply for disability benefits, you will receive a disability ratings decision from the Florida regional office. The ratings are assigned in 10% increments, ranging from 10% to 100% disabled. A higher disability rating indicates the veteran has a more severe disability, and therefore receives a higher monthly compensation payment.
- Filing an Appeal – If you did not get a compensation amount you think you deserved, you can then appeal by filing a notice of disagreement to the regional office that decided your claim. This notice will specify the specific issues you are contesting. When appealing, you can either request to have a decision review officer look over your claim (which typically gets you results quicker) or you can request the traditional review process in which you file a VA 9 form and your case is sent to the Board of Veterans Appeals for a decision. You have one year from the date of the ratings decision to file your notice of disagreement.
- Requesting a Hearing – Whether you ask for a decision review officer or send your claim to the Board of Veterans Appeals, you can request that a personal hearing be conducted. At the hearing, you will have the chance to provide testimony and evidence in support of your case.
Should I Hire An Attorney?
Many individuals are troubled when it comes to making the decision of whether to hire a lawyer when appealing a veterans disability rating. Keep in mind that the appeals process can often involve complicated procedures, formal hearings, and strict deadlines that are only touched upon in this article. As such, Hiring a dedicated veterans disability attorney after you receive an unfavorable disability rating can keep you from tackling each step alone.
At Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell, we know that the veterans disability claims process is often difficult and time consuming. If you want full and fair compensation for the injury you sustained while in service, we strongly urge you to retain experienced counsel. We proudly serve areas throughout and around Volusia County and Flagler County, Florida, including, Port Orange, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, DeLand, Deltona, Bunnell, Orange City, Sanford, Orlando, and Leesburg.