I was denied benefits. What’s next?
If you have been denied a previous VA disability claim and need help with VA disability appeal, you should seek help from VA disability attorneys who are experienced with VA disability law. Veterans who are denied VA benefits should not take ‘no’ for an answer. Once you are denied benefits or if you do not agree with your rating, you have ONE YEAR to file a Supplemental Claim, Higher Level Review or Appeal to the BVA from the date on your rating decision letter. You also have 90-days to submit new additional evidence from the time you file a Supplement Claim. No new evidence is allowed for Higher Level Reviews. You also have 60-days to file an appeal if you received a decision from the BVA.
What happens during an appeal?
Formal appeals can be decided in front of an Administrative Judge at the Board of Veteran Appeals or can be decided by document review. During a hearing, it is possible that you provide testimony regarding your disability and service connection in the military. This is a very important stage in the process. Here, the Judge can approve or deny your appeal or even send your case back to the VA Regional Office for further review. The good news is even if the Judge denies your case, you can appeal that too! From there your case would go to the United States Supreme Court. Southwest Law Firm has the experience and is also licensed to handle cases at the Supreme Court level as well.
Should I hire an attorney?
Starting in 2007, the VA authorized attorneys to represent Veterans. While VA Law is relatively new, having an attorney represent you against the VA will give you an edge. In addition, to knowing case law, rules and regulations; Attorneys go through law school and have the proper education and experience as compared to non-attorneys. While Agents, Officers, former VA employees may have great experiences, attorneys review and attack issues in a different perspective. Attorneys are able to write legal memos, legal complaints, pleadings and numerous other legal types documents. We do far more than push papers and type in Veteran's information on free VA forms. Attorneys set the foundation for future arguments and counters. Attorneys are also more capable of dealing with VA Judges and Attorneys when or if that time comes. Especially at the BVA and CAVC level. Agents, VSO's, etc. are not authorized to handle cases at the CAVC level. You're most likely paying the same contingency fee to an agent....so why not use an attorney?
• Low-Rating Decisions: If you feel your initial rating decision was too low than what you deserve, you can certainly appeal. Southwest Law Firm has helped may Veterans who were initially rated too low.
• Worsened Impairments: If your injuries whether mental or physical or if your disease has worsened since your original rating, you are entitled for an increased rating. However, it is not that easy. Call Southwest Law Firm to help advise you on your next steps.
Should I use a free service organization?
Absolutely! As previously mentioned, VSO's, DAV's, etc., all serve a great purpose and most do a great job. Please keep us in mind should you need to appeal to the next level or need that edge to win your case.
I don’t have money to hire an attorney.
No money, no problem! Our services are at no advance costs to you (Unless you need additional medical evidence, then there may be out of pockets costs). Southwest Law Firm will represent you on a contingency fee, flat fee or a combination of both types agreement. If we don’t win your case, we don’t get paid. The overall attorney fee is 20% of back pay for VA disability cases. More importantly, this does not apply to future monthly benefits. Lastly, the VA pays compensation based on a Rating Schedule with increasing benefits as the level of disability increases (from 0% to 100%). In many cases, your case may need nexus statements by way of independent medical opinions (IMO). The fees for IMO's are dependent on the complexity, amount of conditions and what doctors are available at that time. Simply put, in most cases, you will not win without a competent and thorough IMO. You can either try to get one on your own or have a doctor the specializes if reviewing conditions that are common with servicemen. The preference is yours, but you will find that most doctors do not know how to write them or simply won't.
What is the process?
The VA disability claims process can be daunting. There are many Government forms applications, questionnaires and releases required needed to apply and appeal. For many, the VA claims process can be confusing and tedious. Southwest Law Firm is here to answer your questions and provide information that will help you throughout the process. If you have not filed a claim for VA disability compensation, complete VA Form 526EZ and submit the completed form to your VA Regional Office. If you are not sure where you closest Regional Office is located, go to http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.asp.
Can you help with Nexus Statements?
Absolutely! This is what separates us from other law firms and free organizations. Your nexus statement will be drafted by actual doctors who have experience with the VA. We have exclusive agreements with top doctors with an array of specialties. Most have decades of experience and also have published articles and treatises. They only draft nexus statements for Southwest Law Firm clients. When you work with us you also work with a very large network of doctors at your disposal.
How much do nexus statements costs?
The cost for competent, thorough, doctor drafted nexus statements vary is price and is dependent on the complexity of the conditions, amount of conditions and what doctor is available at that time. Usually they can include up to five conditions depending on the conditions. Be aware of cheap nexus statements. There are firms that claim they can connect you with doctors that can write nexus statements for much less. Truth of the matter is there are no reputable doctors who will draft a quality nexus statement for $300, $500 or even $700! These reports can take hours or days to complete. Don't be fooled by these cheap offers. They are most likely drafted by clerks or assistants and they do not have the skill set to draft these reports. Or perhaps they are not reviewed and signed by doctors at all. Once written, they are most likely quickly reviewed and signed by a doctor who does not care about the overall quality. Especially since you will most likely not know better. If it is too good to be true...it probably is. Cheap service will lead to poor results. **Do not pay or submit nexus statements provided by non-doctors. You pay too much money for nexus statements to written and signed by other medical professionals. Other medical professionals are good for supplemental opinions but not as your main source. Otherwise, this is an easy counter by the VA. "Our doctor's opinion provides more weight than your nurse practitioner's opinion". We have heard it plenty of times.
Should I file an Intent to File form when filing new claims, claims for increase or appeals?
Absolutely! Filing a 21-0966 - Intent to File (ITF) - The date VA receives your intent to file will be protected as your effective date. This process allows you more time to collect information to support your claim. It also protects the earliest possible effective date for any benefits resulting from your claim. However, the correct application form must be submitted within one year. You can file an ITF by calling the VA at 1-800-827-1000, faxing to 1-800-531-7818 or mailing your ITF form directly to DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS CLAIMS INTAKE CENTER, P.O. BOX 4444, JANESVILLE, WI 53547-4444
Click here for a copy: 21-0966 (va.gov)
What does it mean to have a Permanent and Total (P&T) rating?
Permanent and Total (P&T) is simply a term that means your service-connected conditions will not improve. Having a P&T rating can also protect you from having your file randomly review and thus limit a rating reduction proposal.
How do I secure a Permanent and Total (P&T) rating?
A Permanent and Total (P&T) classification is usually granted when a doctor provides an opinion that your service-connected conditions will not improve. This is usually done by using medical opinions by doctors.
Is there an income limit for Permanent and Total (P&T) rating?
Unlike Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), Permanent and Total (P&T) rating do not have an income limit.
We believe in the American Veteran and all the veteran stands for through service. We believe in justice. We believe in fairness. We believe in doing what is right. That is why VABenefits4Vets.com exists. That is why VABenefits4Vets serves fellow Veterans.
This website is owned and operated by Southwest Law Firm, PLLC, which operates as a professional limited liability corporation in the State of Arizona. Southwest Law Firm Attorneys are accredited by the Department of Veteran Affairs to handle VA disability law cases nationwide. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. *Attorneys are licensed in Arizona and New Mexico.