How to Appeal if the VA Denies You Disability Benefits

If you are denied veterans disability benefits, here's how to appeal.

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If you applied for veterans disability compensation benefits and the VA sent you a letter denying you benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision.

How Long Do I Have to Appeal?

You have one year from the date on the denial letter to file your appeal.

How Do I File an Appeal With the VA?

To file an appeal with the VA Regional Office that denied you benefits, you will need to submit a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). The VA doesn't have an NOD form, so you can use Statement in Support of Claim form. You can find this form at www.va.gov/vaforms/.

What Should I Write on the NOD?

In your Notice of Disagreement, tell the VA that you disagree with the decision. You don't have to tell the VA all the reasons that you disagree in the NOD, and in fact it may not help your appeal if you try to list all the reasons. Keep it general; that way, if you forget to mention an issue, you can still add that issue to your appeal later on.

Also tell the VA that you are appealing the decision. Again,you don't have to tell the VA the specific decisions you disagree with. The important thing is to state your intent to appeal the decision to deny you benefits.

Make sure you mention the date of the denial letter and use the words Notice of Disagreement prominently on the form.

If you do provide details about why you disagree with the denial of benefits, make sure to mention that your disagreement isn't limited to the issues you mention. State that you disagree with all of the decisions in the denial letter and ratings decision.

Send your Notice of Disagreement to the VA Regional Office that sent you the denial letter. Sign it and keep a copy before you put it in the mail. Send it certified mail so you can prove you met the filing deadline.

Choose Type of Appeal

You can opt for a decision review officer (DRO) appeal with or without a hearing at your VA regional office, or you can appeal directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). However, if you want to appeal to the BVA, you have to wait for the VA to issue you a Statement of the Case. A Statement of the Case is a detailed explanation of the VA's decision, and it takes a long time for the VA to send it to you.

A DRO appeal gets completed much faster than a BVA appeal. And, if the DRO doesn't grant you benefits, you can still take your case to the Board of Veterans Appeals later.

What Happens After I File My Appeal?

Decision Review Officer (DRO)

If you asked for a DRO appeal, the VA will write to you and ask you for more information about what parts of the decision you would like the VA to review. If you didn't ask for a hearing, the DRO will make a decision based on the records on file for your claim. If you asked for a hearing, it will be scheduled after you provide the requested information.

Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)

If you asked for a BVA appeal, the VA will prepare your Statement of the Case and send it to you. The Statement of the Case is a summary of the VA's denial decision, and it will take months for the VA to send it to you. You will also receive a Statement of the Case if the DRO denies your appeal.

Once you receive the Statement of the Case, you have only 60 days to file your BVA appeal. Use VA Form 9 to file your BVA appeal. You can find VA Form 9 at www.va.gov/vaforms.

VA Form 9 is more difficult to complete than a Notice of Disagreement, so you may need the help of an attorney. Set up a free consultation with a disability attorney here.

After you file Form 9, you will again have to wait several months for your VA regional office to transfer your file to the BVA. When you get a letter from the BVA with instructions for your appeal, you will know that the BVA have received your file.

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