Was Your VA Disability Claim Denied?
If you have applied for veterans’ disability benefits and the VA denied your claim, you are not alone. The VA denies initial disability claims from many deserving veterans.
Your response to a rejected disability benefits claim is what counts. The VA provides multiple opportunities for disabled veterans to appeal its decisions. But an appeal must address the initial problem — what kept your claim from being approved in the first place.
In most cases, your appeal of a denied VA disability benefits claim must provide evidence that was not previously in your claim file.
Berry Law Firm can help. We pursue veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in the United States. We assist veterans with all levels of appeals whether it is before a VA Regional Office, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or higher courts. We have litigated claims that resulted in case law and changes to VA regulations. We know the way forward.
We Are Veterans Serving Veterans
At Berry Law Firm, our attorneys are military veterans who help fellow veterans pursue the VA disability benefits they have earned. We typically work with veterans who need to appeal a denied claim or whose VA disability rating is too low.
Our firm’s founder, John S. Berry Sr., became involved in veterans’ law when he began representing fellow Vietnam veterans who suffered from PTSD. His son, John S. Berry Jr., is a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Bosnia. Additional attorneys in our firm are veterans, as well.
Founded in 1965, Berry Law Firm is committed to putting our experience behind your VA disability benefits appeal. Over the years, our attorneys have helped thousands of veterans obtain the appropriate level of VA benefits.
Reasons Why the VA Denies Disability Benefits Claims
Before a veteran goes through the VA appeals process, the veteran should understand why the VA denied his or her claim. The veteran’s appeal must directly address the VA’s rationale behind its decision and consider the evidence and law which the VA cited in its decision.
Here are five common reasons why the VA denies claims:
- Lack of medical evidence. A veteran must establish that he or she suffers from an injury that the VA recognizes and provide evidence that the condition is disabling. The VA will likely deny a claim if a veteran fails to provide current medical records of examination, diagnosis and treatment for a specific condition or a group of specified conditions that constitute a disability.
- No service connection. A disability benefits claim must demonstrate that an incident or conditions during the veteran’s military service caused or aggravated the veteran’s disability. Typically, service records or in-service medical records provide this evidence. A veteran should submit these records when the veteran submits his or her claim. If the veteran lacks these records, the veteran should identify what records are required and allow the VA to gather those records on the veteran’s behalf. If neither the veteran nor the VA can locate the records, the VA will consider a “buddy statement,” military unit history or news reports which document the incident or condition which the veteran cites. Keep in mind: The VA presumes that certain disabilities are service-connected.
- No C&P exam. If a VA claim evaluator lacks enough medical evidence to make a decision on a claim, the evaluator can order a veteran to go to a local VA medical center for a Compensation and Pension Examination, or “C&P exam.” The C&P examiner will provide a medical opinion on the merits of the veteran’s disability claim.A veteran must report for the C&P exam. If a veteran fails to undergo the examination, the VA typically will deny the veteran’s claim. If a veteran cannot get to the VA medical center for a C&P exam appointment, the veteran should provide an explanation in writing to the VA Regional Office.
- Poorly formed medical opinion. A VA claim evaluator will look for certain information when reviewing current medical records from a VA doctor or a private physician. When a doctor provides a medical opinion to the VA, the doctor must certify that the doctor has examined the veteran’s claim file, or “C-file.” The doctor must also rationally explain his or her opinion on the extent of the veteran’s disability and conclusion that the disability is service-connected. A VA claim evaluator will look for certain language and phrasing. If the doctor’s medical opinion lacks this language, the evaluator may deny the claim.
- Disability rating. In the end, a VA claim evaluator makes a judgment call. The VA uses Diagnostic Codes for just about every imaginable injury or illness. In some cases, the VA uses additional rules, regulations and case law to measure disabilities. The claims evaluator must take what appears in a veteran’s claim file and match it to the appropriate Diagnostic Code and/or other directives and determine the degree of the veteran’s disability. The VA will rate a veteran’s disability in 10 percent increments. If an evaluator determines that a veteran is not at least 10 percent disabled by a service-connected condition, the evaluator will deny the veteran’s claim for monthly disability benefits.
You Can Appeal a Denied VA Benefits Claim
You have the right to appeal any decision by the VA that you think is incorrect.
The appeals process begins with filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with your VA Regional Office (RO). The RO will respond to you with a Statement of the Case (SOC), a detailed review of your claim so far, and then certify and forward your appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).
When you receive the SOC, you may file a Substantive Appeal. This is a VA form that requires explanations of:
- Each specific issue you are appealing and why (e.g., improper denial or a too-low disability rating)
- Why you disagree with the decision made in the initial claim evaluation
- What facts you think the VA got wrong and/or how you think the VA misapplied the law in your case
- What disability rating you believe is appropriate for each service-connected disability you claim
Each point above must be supported by relevant evidence. The veteran disability claims attorneys at Berry Law Firm can make sure your appeal of a denied benefits claim includes new evidence or a new explanation of evidence that persuasively states your case. We conduct a thorough review of your existing claim and supporting evidence to identify a basis for appeal. We work to obtain any military, medical, and/or employment records that you don’t have that may help to establish your disability.
Berry Law Firm can refer you to doctors, psychologists, or other medical experts who are familiar with VA disability requirements. We often work with doctors who review veterans’ claims files and/or examine our clients when VA doctors fail to provide a complete or adequate examination. We also consult with vocational experts about clients’ ability to work, if appropriate.
We know what the VA looks for to judge a medically identifiable, service-connected physical or mental condition that causes you to be disabled. Because of our experience litigating VA disability claim appeals, our lawyers know where the VA misapplied the law in your case or simply got the facts wrong.
We are accredited by the VA to represent veterans seeking compensation, and our firm has obtained millions of dollars in disability benefits for thousands of U.S. military veterans.
Get Experienced Legal Help to Appeal a Denied VA Disability Claim
The rules and regulations governing VA disability benefits claims are complex and confusing enough for any veteran’s initial claim to be denied. Unfortunately, the appeals process is even more complicated and confusing.
Two generations of military veterans at the Berry Law Firm have helped thousands of disabled veterans obtain the benefits they have earned. We have successfully litigated VA disability appeals at all levels of the appeals process.
Let our VA disability claims lawyers help you today.