You cannot believe that you waited months to hear back on the status of your veteran’s benefits case, only to hear that your claim had been denied. Now you have two options: forget about your benefits, or begin the appeal process—neither of which makes you very hopeful.

How Veterans Should Appeal a VA Disability Denial

While it may be tempting to give up, it is always worth it to file an appeal in your benefits case. After all, you are granted up to one year from the date your regional office (RO) sends you its decision to file for an appeal, so there is no harm in asking the VA to take a second look at your claim.

Veterans must take these steps to take in order to appeal a VA claim denial:

  • Submit a Notice of Disagreement. The first step you must take is to submit a written Notice of Disagreement to your RO. You can compose your own letter or use the VA Statement in Support of Claim Form to outline the reasons you disagree with the decision, as well as your intent to appeal.
  • Ask for a review. After you have sent a Notice of Disagreement, you can request that a Decision Review Officer(DRO) from your local office perform a review of your file and schedule a hearing or you can request your appeal be heard by the Board of Veteran Appeals (BVA) . We believe asking for a hearing by a DRO is the best choice in most cases. This compels the local office to take another look at your case with fresh eyes to ensure no simple mistakes were made in your first determination. If the decision is not favorable to your claim, you may still file the appeal to the BVA within the time limit set forth in DRO decision.
  • Wait for a statement. When your review is complete, your RO will send you a Statement of the Case (SOC), explaining in detail the laws, regulations, and evidence that was used in determining the outcome of your case. Your RO should also include a Substantive Appeal Form (VA Form 9) to confirm your intent to appeal.
  • File for appeal. Complete the Substantive Appeal Form with as much information as you can detailing why your case should have been approved. Once the form has been received, you have 90 days to provide specific medical and factual evidence to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) in support of your claim. You may request either a personal hearing with a travel board judge from the BVA, a video conference hearing with a member of the BVA or personal appearance hearing in Washington, DC . Asking for a hearing will cause a delay in the decision by the BVA. When the issue is a legal interpretation of a regulation a request for a hearing might not be the right choice. 
  • Await a decision. In some cases, it can take an extremely long time—from several months to years—for the BVA to schedule a hearing to review your case. After your appeal, the BVA will mail you a decision stating whether your claim has been approved or denied.

How to Get Help During and After an Appeal

If you are having trouble filing your VA benefits appeal, we can help in several ways. We can look over your claim to find out the reasons for denial and help you structure your appeal to get it approved.We can make sure all the relevant evidence has been submitted and make the right legal arguements.Email us at [email protected]  or call us at (402) 933-5405  for a no cost evaluation of your case with a VA accredited  attorney.



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