America’s Veterans are entitled to disability compensation for the sacrifices they made in service of our country, and this includes Veterans in Alabama, where there are approximately 390,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 21% of these Veterans have at least one service-connected disability (the national average is 17%).
However, there are others who may have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. An Alabama VA disability attorney from Berry Law can help you receive the disability compensation you are entitled to.
The attorneys of Berry Law have represented Veterans and servicemembers in all 50 states. We fight for Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in America, and take great pride in defending Veterans’ rights. If you have been denied VA benefits, or are unhappy with your rating decision, you could benefit from the help of an Alabama VA disability attorney. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Alabama.
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The process of applying for benefits can begin from any location in the US, regardless of whether you served in that location.
You can use the VA’s website to apply, or seek the help of a VSO (Veterans Service Organization).
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ , or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. If you want the VA to collect medical evidence on your behalf, you must also complete VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a. Other relevant forms include VA Form 21-0781 or 21-0781a for PTSD claims, and VA Form 21-8940 and 21-4192 for Individual Unemployability (TDIU). The forms must be signed and dated, packaged with any evidence you wish for the VA to consider, and either mailed to the VA Evidence Intake Center in Janesville, Wisconsin, or faxed to the VA at the number listed on the form.
Initial claims generally take several months to process, so patience may be required.
It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to set an early effective date for your claim. Once set, the effective date will not change regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which can take years. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran should receive back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to reaching from the final decision date all the way back to the effective date.
It is important to keep in mind that the effective date can be lost if you don’t maintain appeals for your claims. For example, if you have one year to file a notice of disagreement but miss the deadline, you may have to reopen your claim resulting in a new effective date. This is one reason it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and receive all the compensation for their disabilities that they earned. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Alabama.
The effective date for each disability claim is independent so an early effective date for a claim based on knee pain will usually not apply to an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later.
Unfortunately, the VA does not always make the correct decision for a Veteran’s initial claim. When initial claims are denied, given a lower-than-expected rating, or applied to an incorrect effective date, the Veteran has the right to appeal.
There are separate avenues for appeal depending on what kind of mistake the VA made. Berry Law helps Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality appeals that have been a crucial part of helping Veterans get the compensation they sacrificed for, including back pay. Berry Law Firm has helped its clients recover over $100 Million in backpay over decades of client service.
We have attorneys and advocates in various locations throughout the US, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because all claims are Federally adjudicated. So, your Alabama VA disability attorney does not need to be physically present in Alabama to represent you in your fight for disability compensation. We have helped clients in Alabama, and each of the other 49 states, along with Veterans living abroad.
Some appeals processes can last years, but as long as you have preserved your effective date by keeping appeals open, you are entitled to back pay for the whole period of the process.
The first type of appeal is usually a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). This form notifies the VA that you disagree with the decision that has been made. An NOD can simply state “I disagree”, or can include substantial amounts of supporting evidence The Regional Office in Alabama is located at: 345 Perry Hill Road Montgomery, AL 36109
The Regional Office responds to NODs with a Statement of Case (SOC), which outlines of the case and is sent to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). The BVA will issue a decision that may or may not satisfy the Veteran. If you feel that the BVA has made an incorrect ruling, the next step is to appeal to the CAVC.
If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Alabama you can contact an Alabama VA disability attorney at Berry Law to schedule a free consultation on what your options may be.
Not every Alabama VA disability attorney is the same. If you decide to hire an attorney to help with your claim, it is a good idea to select one that will continue working with you throughout the multi-year process, and who has experience with appeals at every step of the process. You may want to use a Firm with a long history of representing Veterans to make sure they will still be representing you if your case lasts for several years. Beware of firms that only began practicing Veterans Law after 2007 when it became more “profitable” for them.
The hardest aspect to select for is how effective your lawyer will be at presenting your case with research, evidence, and arguments. While number of years of practice can serve as a proxy, it’s hard to gauge work product until it’s done. Testimonials and reviews can provide additional insight that may help you determine how well the firm has done for other Veterans.
It’s also important to many Veterans to have lawyers who are themselves Veterans. Utilizing an Alabama VA appeals lawyer who has deployed or mobilized can facilitate better communication and reduce the amount of time that you need to spend explaining how the military works. Fellow Veterans often make great wingmen when it comes to helping you work through difficult situations. Will your law firm understand the intense stress of combat?
Making the right decision when hiring an Alabama VA disability attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
Berry Law Firm was established by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr. During a JAG tour in Vietnam, he successfully defended Green Berets against murder charges, among other courtroom victories for his fellow servicemembers, resulting in major news coverage and an elite reputation. After leaving the service, he opened his own firm focused on criminal defense, but where he also represented many Veterans on a pro bono basis against the VA. The firm is now run by John S. Berry, Jr., who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the National Guard, after serving in both Bosnia and Iraq during Active Duty periods. John has helped grow the firm while keeping its roots in military work ethic and values.
On our staff are Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force Veterans. We have attorneys hailing from each branch, and feature both Officers and Enlisted, who left the service ranking between E2 and O6. Our Veterans served during every major conflict since Vietnam, and have the accompanying ribbon racks of sustained superior service to the country. Also on staff are Reservists and National Guardsmen still wearing the uniform.
An Alabama VA disability attorney from Berry Law will bring both passion for the military and passion for the law to help Alabama Veterans in their fight for disability benefits.
Berry Law represents Veterans throughout Alabama , including in:
VSOs in Alabama
VSOs can help you file an initial claim. The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA.
Local chapters in Alabama include:
The American Legion
A few of the VA facilities in Alabama include:
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