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.
In this article, we will look at the higher-level review lane.
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.
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 layout 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.
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 to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals might be a good option. Whatever the situation, Berry Law firm has a team of attorneys and advocates who are ready to help.
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.
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