Should I Appeal VA Decisions Through a Veterans Law Attorney?

Often, veterans appeal multiple claims for service connection through their VA regional office on their own before they retain a veterans law attorney representative. Veterans who are denied service connection for their disabilities regularly ask Berry Law Firm attorneys whether it is better for veterans to file the appeal themselves or retain an attorney to file it. Sometime a veterans law attorney ’s value in the appeal process comes from not only developing winning claims but also helping a veteran decide which claims should be appealed.

Every veteran who has sought medical care or filed a claim with the VA has a claims file. This file contains your service records, including service medical records, any medical records from a VA Medical Center that you have sought treatment from, any private medical records you have submitted to the VA, and any legal records if you have filed any claims for education, compensation, and pension benefits. This is the record the VA uses to determine whether a veteran is entitled to VA benefits.

The more claims a veteran files, the more claims the adjudicator has to review and either grant or deny. After reviewing a veteran’s Rating Decision and VA Claims File an attorney should be able to tell that veteran whether a particular claim meets the legal criteria necessary to service-connect. Some attorneys believe the best strategy is to avoid appealing claims that may have little chance of being granted because they might delay the adjudication of claims that may have a chance of being granted.

Remember, to establish service connection for a disability, a veteran must submit (1) evidence of a current disability; (2) evidence of an in-service injury or incident; and (3) evidence of a medical nexus opinion linking the current disability to the veteran’s military service.

Let’s break this down:

  1. You must have a diagnosed disability that is recognized by the VA. This must be a disability that is diagnosed by a qualified medical professional, either by a VA medical care or through a private provider.
  2. You must have evidence of something that happened in-service that was related to your current disability. For example, an in-service medical record or simply a credible statement of the event that you think may have led to your current disability.
  3. A qualified medical expert must opine that your current disability is likely to be related to your military service.

Sometimes, a veteran will file claims for all of his current medical diagnoses in the hopes that one or more will be found to be service connected. A veterans law attorney will often determine which specific claims are worth developing based upon the evidence of record before filing an appeal.

Likewise, when it comes to claims for an increased rating on a service connected condition it might be better to submit your claim through your representative. Some ratings do not go up to 100 percent. You may already be receiving the maximum schedular rating and filing such a claim would not result in any additional benefit. However, your attorney may be able to give you advice on alternative means on increasing your combined rating, especially if you are not currently working due to your service-connected disabilities.

If you have received an unfavorable rating decision from the VA, we may be able to help you construct a successful appeal. Contact the Berry Law Firm today for a free consultation.