How to Reopen a VA Disability Claim

Many Veterans contact our firm to see if we can help them appeal their VA claim. One of the first questions we ask is, “When did you receive your most recent rating decision?” For some Veterans trying to receive their due compensation from the VA, this may not seem like an important detail. However, the VA has strict timelines and timetables for Veterans to appeal their VA rating decision. If our team is not contacted soon enough, we may not be able to help until your VA disability claim is reopened.

Reacting to a Rating Decision in a Timely Manner

When a Veteran has received a rating decision and acts immediately by contacting a VA disability lawyer or begins the appeal process themselves, they are acting in their best interest. If you have received a recent denial form the VA or a rating decision that was too low, please contact our team of VA appeals attorneys immediately. If you delay appealing your VA rating decision, you may run out of time. Upon receiving a rating decision, a Veteran has 1 year to file an appeal. If the appeals process has not started within a year, the Veteran will lose their eligibility to appeal their claim and will not preserve the original filing date. This means that Veterans can lose out on due compensation because they did not act in a timely manner. If you do not appeal your claim within a year, you still have options. Veterans can reopen a VA disability claim.

Criteria to Reopen a VA Disability Claim

To reopen a VA disability claim, the claim must be eligible. Claims that are eligible to be reopened have a final decision, meaning the timeline to appeal the decision has passed or the claim has gone through the entire VA appeals process. On top of that, the claim must be one of the following:

  • Dependency indemnity compensation (DIC)
  • Service-connected VA disability compensation
  • Burial Benefits

Since a Veteran establishes a new effective date when a claim is reopened, claims can be reopened at any time. With this in mind, claims should be reopened as soon as possible to secure the earliest possible effective date. By doing this, Veteran’s can put themselves in a position to receive the highest compensation available.

New and Material Evidence

In order for the VA to reopen a VA disability claim, you must supply them with new and material evidence. Although this wording may seem confusing, it is very straightforward. New evidence means that you must submit evidence to the VA that was not given to them during the prior filing process. This must be the first time the evidence was submitted to the VA. For evidence to be considered material, it must relate to why your claim was previously denied. To see why your claim was previously denied, view your notification letter or rating decision. By viewing these documents, you can ensure the evidence you are submitting is relevant to your case. Any redundant information will not be considered by the VA. Making sure the evidence you submit meets both of these criteria will guarantee that the VA reopens your claim. If the VA concludes that the evidence submitted is new and material, your claim will be reopened.

VA Form 21-526b

To reopen a VA disability claim, a Veteran must submit a VA Form 21-526b. This form can be used to:

  • Request an increased evaluation
  • Get service-connected for new disability(ies)
  • Add secondary disability(ies) to existing service-connected disability(ies)
  • Reopen a previously denied disability(ies)

Upon submitting this form with new and material evidence, your VA claim will once again be reviewed. After the VA reviews all the new evidence in support of the prior claim, a new decision will be issued.

Appealing a Reopened Claim

Once the VA issues a new rating decision, you may not be satisfied with their decision. What happens if your reopened VA claim is denied? Are your chances of receiving benefits gone? No, they are not. You still have the opportunity to appeal any decision made on a reopened claim.

VA Disability Appeals Lawyer

Berry Law is a Veteran owned and operated firm that is committed to helping Veteran’s nationwide. Our team has experience assisting Veterans in appealing VA denials or rating decisions that were too low. If you or somebody you know needs assistance in appealing a VA rating decision, contact our team of VA disability appeals lawyers today.