America’s Veterans should receive the compensation that they earned while defending America, and this includes Veterans in Arizona, home to approximately 522,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau estimates that 17% of these Veterans have at least one service-connected disability (the same percentage as the national average). However, there are many more who have suffered injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. An Arizona VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can help you fight for the disability compensation you are entitled to.
At Berry Law Firm we represent Veterans in all 50 states. We fight for Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in America, and are dedicated to ensuring Veterans’ rights are protected. If you have been denied VA benefits, or are unhappy with your rating decision, you may want to enlist the support of an experienced Arizona VA disability lawyer. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Arizona.
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Getting started with a VA disability claim can begin from any location in the world, regardless of whether you served in that location.
You can use the VA’s website to apply, or get help from a VSO (Veterans Service Organization). Here is a list of Local VSOs in Arizona.
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. 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). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA.
Initial claims generally take several months to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veteran age over 75, homelessness, or financial hardship.
It is important to start your claim early 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 is entitled to back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to reaching from the final decision date all the way back to the effective date.
You should also know that the effective date can be lost if you don’t maintain appeals for your claims. For instance, if you have 90 days to file a VAF-9 but wait too long to do so, you may have to reopen your claim leading to 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 Arizona.
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.
Despite a solid claim, the VA Regional Office may nonetheless make an improper decision for a Veteran’s initial disability benefits claim. If an initial claim is denied, rated too low, or given an improper effective date, you can appeal the decision.
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 helped Veterans recover over $100 Million in backpay owed to them by the government.
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. Berry Law has helped Veterans in Arizona, and each of the other 49 states, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries.
The appeals process can be long, 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. The NOD, usually due within one year of a rating decision, 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 Arizona is located at: 3333 North Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85012
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 review the material to make its own determination. 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 Arizona, please reach out to an Arizona VA disability lawyer from our team to schedule a free consultation on what your options may be.
Not every Arizona VA disability lawyer is identical. 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. Some firms only recently added Veterans Appeals to their Social Security practice and are not invested in actually helping Veterans.
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.
You may also want to focus on attorneys who have actually served in the military. Utilizing an Arizona VA appeals lawyer who has military experience can facilitate better communication and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences to someone without similar experience. Fellow Veterans often make great wingmen when it comes to helping you work through difficult situations. When it’s time to fix bayonets and charge a position, will your attorney understand?
Making the right decision on hiring a law firm can make a significant difference for the outcome of your case. An Arizona VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can fight for you and your benefits.
Berry Law Firm was established by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr. While in Vietnam, Berry successfully defended the Green Berets in a highly publicized murder case, 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 helped Veterans with legal work, particularly supporting fellow Vietnam Veterans who had been disabled in service. His son, John S. Berry, Jr., is now the Managing Partner of the Firm, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Nebraska National Guard, where he held multiple Command positions 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.
The firm employs Veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. We have lawyers from each branch, and feature 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. Also on staff are members of the Reserves and National Guard still attending drill and occasionally mobilizing.
An Arizona VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will bring passion for the military and passion for the law to help Arizona Veterans with their legal needs.
An Arizona VA disability lawyer form Berry Law can help Vets from all over Arizona, including in:
VSOs in Arizona
Although an Arizona VA disability lawyer from Berry Law cannot help you file an initial claim, a local VSOs can.
The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA.
Local chapters in Arizona include:
The American Legion
Some of the VA facilities in Arizona are:
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