What is a Notice of Disagreement?
What is a Notice of Disagreement?
A Notice of Disagreement is an appeal of a VA decision. It is the first step of the appeals process, and Veterans submit it through written communication to express their disagreement with the VA’s decision.
Since NODs may take months or years to get a response back from the VA, many claimants forgo the appeals process because they do not want to wait for the adjustment. Although it may at first appear to be a lengthy task, Veterans who file a NOD often find it to be a worthwhile investment. Filing an NOD can result in adjusting your disability rating, and increasing your disability compensation.
How the NOD Process Works
After you file a claim with the VA, the VA will either grant or deny benefits in a document known as a rating decision. The rating decision is the VA’s response to your claim. If you disagree with a VA decision, you can file a VA Form 21-0958, commonly known as a Notice of Disagreement.
There are a few basic requirements for a Notice of Disagreement:
- It must express disagreement with an adverse determination;
- It must delineate specific issues in a multi-issue case;
- It must express an intent to seek appellate review; and
- It must be in writing.
Most veterans who file notices of disagreement with the VA do it for one of three main reasons (there are also other reasons, but these are the most common):
- The VA denied service connection
- Many times, a veteran will file a claim for a disease or disability incurred during military service. If the VA denies service connection for this disease or disability, the VA will not provide disability compensation for it. When a veteran files a Notice of Disagreement, he or she is basically telling the VA to reconsider the case and reevaluate the evidence.
- Incorrect disability rating
- In addition to denying service connection, the VA may also erroneously rate a disability lower than is required by law. For example, a veteran who is entitled to compensation of 70% disability rating might be rated at 30%. This error could cost the veteran around $900 a month.
- Sometimes the incorrect rating is not the VA’s fault. For example, a veteran could minimize his or her symptoms during an appointment with a VA doctor or fail to provide the VA with enough evidence of the severity of his or her disability. A veteran in this situation will often submit additional evidence in support of a higher rating when filing a Notice of Disagreement.
- Effective date
- A veteran may be upset with the VA because he or she filed a claim two or three years ago, but the effective date of the rating decision only goes back one year. The correct effective date is often the date the veteran filed the claim. However, there are several exceptions to this rule that can result in a veteran receiving earlier or later effective dates.
If you do not file a Notice of Disagreement within one year of the date of a rating decision, the decision becomes final. The postmark of the decision determines the date of filing, so long as the Notice of Disagreement is postmarked on or before the expiration of the one-year period, it will be considered timely.
If the decision becomes final, the claimant must file a reopened claim with the RO, and under these circumstances, the effective date of any subsequent award would be the date the VA received the re-filed claim. However, there is an exception to the one-year requirement: If there are simultaneously-contested claims (in which opposing claimants are competing for the same benefits), then there is a 60-day deadline.
How Do I File a Notice of Disagreement?
When a Veteran receives their claims decision, they can file for a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) through the VA-Form 21-0958. The NOD form contains sections for each of the Veteran’s medical issues included in the initial VA form.
A Veteran may disagree with the rating of multiple conditions in their request. Make sure to check off each condition rating that you disagree with and complete the required segments.
Although it’s important to go through all the segments of your NOD, the review officer focuses on the section where you explain why you are filing the appeal. In the notice, you have the option of choosing a review process through a Decision Review Officer (DRO) or an appellate review process.
If you need legal assistance when filling out the NOD and are unsure what review process to choose, please call or contact the attorneys at Berry Law Firm. When you need help appealing your decision or fighting a denied claim, our lawyers can help you get the results you deserve.
How Long Does a VA DRO Decision Take?
After you submit the NOD form, the VA DRO decision moves to the regional office appeals section. A decision on your NOD typically takes about a year from the day you submitted the appeal, depending on the review process you chose.
Every DRO officer that reviews an appeal is a senior examiner and can make decisions without the need to receive additional information from the claimant. Since they undergo rigorous training and have more experience with the appeals process than the average employee, Veterans may have a better chance of receiving a fair decision when filing a claim under the DRO process.
Regardless of the VA’s decision, the DRO process takes on every appeal with a fresh approach, and the previous results hold no weight in the DRO’s decision-making process.
What Percentage of VA Appeals Are Successful?
The current public VA appeals success rate for Veterans disability cases is 35.75 %. The success rate of these cases depend on several factors. These include your reasons for appealing the decision, and ensuring that you have strong supporting evidence. However, enlisting the support of a Veterans appeals attorney can increase your chances of successfully appealing the VA’s decision.
Regardless of whether you need help appealing a single decision or many, the VA disability lawyers Berry Law will work to increase your disability rating and get you the compensation you deserve.
Is it Worth Filing a NOD?
Many Veterans will get a small grant of disability benefits from their initial claim and decide that receiving some medical benefits is preferable to getting none at all. They may give up the fight and settle for what the first person at the VA gave them, leaving on the table thousands of dollars that they are entitled to.
All Veterans who believe that they have not received the right rating for their case should file an appeal. A Veteran should file an appeal even if they are not sure they have enough evidence yet, as that will ensure the Veteran keeps their claim’s effective date, which is important for calculating backpay.
Veterans are entitled to hire a lawyer if they need assistance appealing an unfavorable VA decision. Filing a NOD appeal with the help of a lawyer often increases the chances of your appeal being successfully resolved quickly.
Filing a NOD is generally worth it in the long run, and it increases your chances of receiving better disability benefits and medical reimbursement for your service and disability. If you are unsure of the next steps to take, call the lawyers at Berry Firm today for a free consultation.
How Can Berry Law Help?
The Veterans Appeals process is often a lengthy legal affair, which is why many Veterans choose to work with a dedicated law firm to help navigate the legal requirements. While many law firms will list Veterans Appeals as a practice area, Berry Law offers decades of experience and a national reputation built on success and our shared experience as Veterans.
At Berry Law, many of our lawyers are Veterans, and a large number of our attorneys and staff have personally had to fight for their VA disability benefits. They have not only helped others, but felt the pain of each step of their own journey.
Our lawyers strive to get the best possible outcome for your claim and appeal. At Berry Law, our lawyers will stay with you from the Regional Office all the way to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Don’t let the appeals process frustrate you and prevent you from receiving all your Veterans disability benefits. If you’re a Veteran and need assistance appealing your VA claim, call Berry Law for more information.
If you or a loved one is fighting to receive VA disability benefits, please call the Berry Law Firm at 888.883.2483 or contact us online. Our team of veterans’ law attorneys may be able to get you the benefits you deserve.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.