A common mistake that we see all too often in our office is when veterans file a Request for Reconsideration when they have been turned down for disability benefits or did not get the correct disability rating. Except in a few, rare cases this is a bad strategy.

First, let me describe what a Request for Reconsideration is. In this process you are asking the VA to re-evaluate a decision that has not yet become final—that is before the one-year appeal period has expired. We all know that the waiting time in the VA system is long and frustrating. Some veterans and veterans’ service organizations believe that filing a Request for Reconsideration will shorten the time takes to be approved for benefits. Rather than having to take the time to process that much more paperwork, they are hoping that the VA regional office will just grant their claim. But it doesn’t work.

When a claim is denied or a disability rating is set you have one year to file an appeal. In addition to asking the VA to reconsider the facts of your case, another purpose of filing an appeal is to lock in the effective date. This sets the date for back pay if you win the appeal.  A Request for Reconsideration will result in the time limit on your appeal expiring. It establishes a new, much later effective date and years’ worth of back pay may be lost. So, it is like filing a brand new claim.

In theory a Request for Reconsideration can work when—in the terminology of the VA—there is “new and material” evidence. The danger here is that what you may think is new and material, the VA may say is not any different than the evidence that had been submitted before. Unfortunately, you probably won’t learn this until after the window for an appeal has closed and the original date for your claim is lost.

The VA has a way of complicating things and a Request for Reconsideration is a perfect example. That is why getting solid legal advice from an accredited VA attorney is a sensible idea.  If your claim for VA disability has been denied or you believe the VA has not properly rated your disability, call us at Cuddigan Law for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.

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