Many veterans will have their initial claims for benefits denied, leaving them to wonder if they should appeal the decision, or file a new disability claim. Since there are many levels of appeal, it is important to know the difference between new and reopened VA disability benefits denied

The VA classifies claims in the following ways:

  • Original claim. An original claim is the very first claim that you file for VA benefit compensation. This can be filed by active service members, veterans, or surviving spouses of deceased military members. If this claim is denied, veterans have one year from the date of denial to appeal the decision.
  • Reopened claim. If your benefit claim was denied and was not appealed before the time limit expired, your case can be reopened if there is new evidence available that could change the VA’s decision. In order to reopen your claim, you would send "new and material" evidence (such as medical testing or evaluation) to the VA and ask them to reconsider their decision.
  • New claim. A new claim is any claim that relies on new evidence. An original claim may be considered a new claim, but there are also new claims that can be made by veterans who are already receiving some form of aid through the VA. New claims may be filed to re-evaluate the percentage of a person’s disability, to apply for pensions or compensation for special circumstances, or if a service member is applying for individual unemployability.
  • Secondary claim. A secondary claim involves a disability that has been caused (or worsened) in relation to a condition that has been connected to military service. The two conditions must be related in order for the veteran to get compensation.

We Can Explain Your Benefits at No Cost to You

At Cuddigan Law, we provide veterans with the information they need to get maximum compensation for their disabilities. We can help you appeal your VA claim denial, and also examine whether other benefit sources such as Social Security Disability are available. Fill out the short contact form on this page to find out how we can help, or click here to read through a free copy of our book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska