America’s Veterans should receive the due compensation that they earned while in the service, including Veterans living in Alaska, home to approximately 71,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau estimates that 21% of that group have a service-connected disability rating (the national average is 17%). However, there are many more who have suffered injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. An Alaska VA disability lawyer from Berry Law may be able to help you get the VA disability compensation you deserve.
The attorneys of Berry Law have represented Veterans and servicemembers from coast to coast. We pursue Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in the United States and are dedicated to ensuring Veterans’ rights are protected. If you have been denied VA benefits, or are unhappy with your rating decision, you could benefit from the help of an Alaska VA disability lawyer. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Alaska.
You can apply directly online through the VA, or seek the help of a local VSO (Veterans Service Organization).
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ, or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. You may need to submit additional forms based on your individual circumstances. Such additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). 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 establish an early effective date. 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 as long as the original issue remains on appeal.
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 be forced to reopen your claim, resulting in a new effective date. One reason that Veterans fight so hard to appeal VA decisions is 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 Alaska.
The effective date for each disability claim is independent so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to a gastrointestinal claim initially filed years later.
Unfortunately, the VA does not always make the correct decision for a Veteran’s initial disability benefits 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.
You can appeal in a number of different ways depending on how the decision was reached. Berry Law can help you present the most compelling appeal for your case, and has achieved desired results for Veterans for decades.
We have representatives in multiple cities, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because all claims are Federally adjudicated. Berry Law has helped Veterans in Alaska, and each of the other 49 states, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries.
Some appeals processes can last years, but as long as you have preserved your effective date by keeping appeals open, you are entitled to receive back pay for every month that elapsed during the process.
Most appeals begin with filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with your VA Regional Office. 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 Alaska is located at: 1201 N Muldoon Road Anchorage, AK 99504
The Regional Office will reply with a Statement of Case (SOC), which presents the state 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 Alaska, please contact an Alaska VA disability lawyer from Berry Law for more information and a free consultation.
Not every Alaska VA disability lawyer is the same. If you would like to use an attorney, 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. More experience often translates to superior work product, but not always. You may want to read reviews and testimonials from a potential law firm before signing up. You may also want to ask about the level of research they perform on each individual case and what some of their most effective arguments have been in the past.
Military service may also be important to you. Utilizing an Alaska VA disability lawyer who has actually served in the military may help improve understand of your situation and reduce the amount of time that you need to spend explaining how the military works. Having shared military values with your law firm can make the process more comfortable and less stressful. When it’s time to fix bayonets and charge a position, will your attorney understand?
Lastly, you may want to gauge responsiveness to your inquiry to see how likely the attorney is to help quickly when you really need it.
Berry Law Firm was founded in 1965 by John Stevens Berry, Sr., who spent part of his time in the Army serving in Vietnam. While in Vietnam, Berry successfully defended the Green Berets in a highly publicized murder case, earning him significant national praise. After leaving the service, he opened his own firm focused on criminal defense, where he also helped Veterans with legal work, particularly supporting fellow Vietnam Veterans who had been disabled in service. 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 built a Firm that lives on military tradition and values.
In our ranks are Veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. We have attorneys hailing from each branch, and are proud to have both Officers and Enlisted, with service ranks ranging from E2 – O6 (including an E9). Our Veterans served during every major conflict since Vietnam, and combined have earned hundreds of awards, ribbons, and commendations for their service. We also have members of the Reserves and National Guard still attending drill and occasionally mobilizing.
We combine our military and legal training to assist Alaska Veterans with their legal needs. If you are in need of assistance appealing your VA disability claim, please contact an Alaska VA disability lawyer from Berry Law at (888) 883-2483 today.
Berry Law represents Veterans throughout Alaska, including cities such as:
VSOs in Alaska
VSOs can help you file an initial claim. The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA.
VSO locations in Alaska include:
The American Legion
Examples of VA locations located in Alaska include:
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