If you’ve received a denial letter or rating decision you didn’t agree with from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you still have options. It’s common for VA disability claims to be denied, and you can appeal. Here’s some advice on what you need to know about the VA appeals process.
Deadline for Filing a Veterans’ Appeal
Any claims filed on or after February 19, 2019, will be worked under the new appeals system. If you currently have pending appeals in the legacy system, they will continue to be worked under the legacy system. The plan is for the VA to work all of the legacy appeals until all appeals are under the new system. However, it could take years to complete this process.
Under the new system, once a veteran receives a decision, he or she still has one year from the date of the decision to appeal it. If the veteran decides to appeal the decision, he or she must choose between three appeal avenues or lanes: Higher Level Review, Supplemental Claim, or file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals.
According to the VA’s website, you have three options for filing a claim through this process.
Higher Level Review: When you choose to pursue a Higher-Level Review under the VA Appeals Modernization process, you’re asking for another VA employee to review an existing claim. If you were denied or rated incorrectly an HLR may be the solution. This type of review does not require new evidence. Considered yet a third type of Appeal, a Higher Level Review includes another look at your claim by a senior VA reviewer. This review may actually override a prior VA decision based on a difference of opinion, or due to a VA error.
Supplemental Claims: If the VA had previously decided upon a claim but new evidence becomes available, you may be eligible for a change in the original decision. Not only can a supplemental claim change the rating from denial to approval, but it can also change the rating percent issued for a specific condition as well depending on the circumstances. This type of claim relies on providing new and relevant evidence for review by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This claim type is actually a type of appeal (there are 3 appeal types!).
Appeal: Generally when you hear about an appeal, this refers to an Appeal to a Veterans Law Judge. Disagree with the VA decision on your claim, but lacking additional evidence? An appeal may be the right option. The Board decides on appeals with no new evidence but may require a hearing. Regrettably, appeals can be a very long-term option and must be pursued within a specific window of time.
VA Appeals Process
Whether you are filing for the first time, or have been battling the VA for your disability compensation for years it’s important to choose the correct type of claim to pursue. Each claim type has strict deadline limitations, and may also affect your “effective date” for your ratings.