Ventura Veterans Disability Lawyer
Experienced Ventura Veterans Disability Lawyer Helping Disabled Veterans Get The Benefits They Deserve
You’ve served your country honorably and risked your life to defend your home, country and the Constitution. But as a result of your service, you have become disabled. This disability now keeps you from being able to live a normal life and earn a living.
What can you do? Luckily, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides veterans disability benefits. These are monthly payments to disabled veterans that provide financial compensation for their disabilities. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to obtain these benefits.
In a perfect world, the VA would carefully examine every single application for disability benefits and accurately decide if each applicant became disabled as a result of military service. But we not only fail to live in a perfect world, we live in one where the VA has a history of denying veterans the benefits they rightfully and legally deserve.
According to the VA, it makes mistakes in roughly 14% of disability claims. But the error rate is likely much higher. For example, the Center for Investigative Reporting found that as many as 38% of disability claims examined had errors made by the VA. These mistakes and errors include improper denial of benefits or disability ratings that were too low. This means that the VA was making mistakes in as many as one out of every three veterans’ disability claims.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of denial letter or a ratings decision that’s too low, there’s a fair chance that a mistake was made. Sadly, fixing this mistake is neither easy nor quick. But utilizing the assistance of a Ventura veterans disability lawyer can help with this appeals process
Why Was the Disability Claim Denied?
A disability claim can be denied for any number of reasons. Sometimes the veteran made a mistake in his or her application. Other times, the VA didn’t notice a key fact or didn’t fulfill its legal duty to gather evidence to help the veteran prove his or her claim. Some common reasons for denying the claim include:
- The veteran doesn’t show up for a compensation and pension examination. Sometimes this is the veteran’s fault, but other times, the VA schedules exams that are difficult for the veteran to attend or don’t even tell the veteran that an exam has been scheduled.
- The VA thinks the veteran’s doctor is lying.
- The veteran didn’t provide sufficient evidence of an injury that occurred during military service.
- The VA believes the disability is unrelated to military service.
- The VA doesn’t think the veteran is disabled.
Whether the VA made a mistake in the claim denial or the veteran didn’t provide the necessary information, a denial or ratings decision can be appealed.
Filing an Appeal of the Disability Claim Decision
The appeals process takes at least several months to complete, but in many cases, it can take much longer. The first step is to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). The NOD serves as notice to the VA that you disagree with its decision regarding your disability claim. You must file the NOD within one year after the disability claim decision was mailed to you, not when you received it. You must send the NOD to the regional VA office that sent you the decision letter for which you are appealing.
Next, you’ll need to decide what kind of review of your appeal you would like. You can choose between having a decision review officer (DRO) or the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) review your appeal. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.If you choose the DRO path, you can have an appeals decision far more quickly than if you choose the BVA path. And if the DRO doesn’t change the VA’s decision, you can still appeal to the BVA. But if that happens, you will have ended at the BVA anyways and wasted all that time having a DRO review your appeal. Going straight to the BVA can therefore save some time assuming the DRO would have ruled against you. But if you decline to use a DRO, you will lose out on an additional opportunity for someone to reverse the VA’s original decision concerning your disability claim.
If you choose a DRO appeal, you will be asked to provide additional information in support of your appeal. This information can also be provided at a hearing, if you request one. If the DRO decides against you, you will receive a statement of the case (SOC), which is basically a summary of the DRO’s decision to deny your appeal. You can then appeal the DRO’s decision to the BVA using VA Form 9. This second appeal must be made within 60 days from the date of the SOC.
If you decide on a BVA appeal, you will start off by waiting for the VA to send you the SOC. This usually takes several months or more. After you receive the SOC, you have 60 days from the date the SOC was created to file an appeal to the BVA using VA Form 9. Several more months may pass before the next steps occurs, which is usually a hearing with a BVA Board. A decision on your appeal will then be made.
What Happens if I Disagree with the BVA’s Decision?
You have three options:
- You can reopen the claim with your local VA office.
- File a motion with the BVA asking them to reconsider its decision as a result of clear and unmistakable error.
- File an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
If you choose to file an appeal with the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, you must do so within 120 days of the BVA’s decision. Regardless of what you decide to do, it’s easy to see how complicated and lengthy this appeals process can be.
To increase your chances of success and help you save as much time as possible during the appeals process, it’s strongly recommended you consult with a Ventura veterans disability lawyer who has experience with the VA disability appeals process. Even if your Ventura veterans disability lawyer only saves you several months during the appeals process and gets you the same results you would have gotten without his or her help, the time savings will allow you to start collecting your benefits months sooner, which can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Are You Looking for a Ventura Veterans Disability Lawyer?
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