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Requesting a Higher-Level Review of Your VA Claim
Requesting a VA Claim Higher-Level Review
The Veteran Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (AMA) redesigned the VA benefit appeals system with the intent to increase the number of choices for Veterans when they disagree with the VA’s decisions regarding the Veteran’s benefit claim. Basically, AMA provided Veterans with more opportunities to appeal a rating decision when they disagree with the VA. The AMA is meant to:
- Modernize the current claims and appeals process
- Include three review options for disagreements with decisions
- Require improved notification of VA decisions
- Provide earlier claim resolution
- Ensure Veterans receive the earliest effective date possible
The Appeals Modernization Act gives Veterans three different options or lanes to appeal a rating decision. A Veteran can appeal through the Supplemental Claim Lane, appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, or request a Higher-Level Review. In this article, we will look at the higher-level review lane.
What is a Higher-Level Review?
One of the AMA’s three review options is the Higher-Level Review. The Higher-Level Review allows a Veteran to request a de novo review, a new look by a VA Claims Adjudicator, of the Veteran’s claim. This appeal is reviewed by a more experienced Claims Adjudicator, and the Veteran has the option to request an informal phone conference to discuss their issues with that Claims Adjudicator.
While Veterans are not permitted to submit any new evidence, they are permitted to provide new arguments that point out any errors of facts or law such as the VA’s failure to assist the Veteran in developing his claim as required by law, offer a difference of opinion or theory of entitlement, or any other argument that would justify a grant of the Veteran’s claim.
Requesting a Higher-Level Review When Your Claim is Granted
Veterans can also use Higher-Level Review even when the VA granted a benefit. Often, the VA might under-rate a condition (grant 30 percent for PTSD when the Veteran may actually be entitled to 50 percent) or fail to provide the earliest effective date the Veteran is entitled to. Higher-Level Reviews are a good option to lay out the timeline of the Veteran’s appeal and the fact of their case to justify an earlier effective for service connection or increase in rating.
Other than the optional informal phone conference, the Veteran does not need to take any action until the Claims Adjudicator makes a decision. The Claims Adjudicator has the option to grant the claim, remand the claim to the Regional Office to fix a specific error, or deny the claim.
What If I Requested a Higher-Level Review and My Disability Rating Didn’t Increase?
If a Veteran receives an unfavorable Higher-Level Review decision, there are still more options at their disposal to fight for the benefits they deserve. The Veteran may have new evidence since they filed their original claim. If this is the case, a Supplemental Claim is a great option. On the other hand, the Veteran might think the record already contains all the information needed to support their benefit claim. In this situation, escalating their claim the Board of Veterans’ Appeals might be a good option. Whatever the situation, Berry Law firm has a team of attorneys and advocated who are ready to help.
Veterans Disability Lawyers
Berry Law is committed to helping fellow Veterans receive all the disability compensation they deserve. If you are unsatisfied with your VA rating and need assistance requesting a Higher-Level Review or appealing through any other lane, Berry Law can help. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of their team today.
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.