Utilizing a California VA Disability Lawyer
California’s Veterans deserve to receive the compensation for the injuries they incurred for while defending America, and there are approximately 1.9 million Veterans living in the state. The Census Bureau estimates that 16% of that group have at least one service-connected disability (slightly below the national average of 17%). However, there are others who may have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. A California VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will help you fight for the disability benefits 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 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 a California VA disability lawyer. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in California.
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The process of applying for benefits can begin from any location in the country, regardless of where you served.
You can use the VA’s website to apply, or get help from a local Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ, or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. You can also submit VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a if you want the VA to assist in gathering medical evidence on your behalf. 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, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veteran age over 75, homelessness, or financial hardship.
It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to set an early effective date for your claim. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual claims. 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 example, if you have one year to file a notice of disagreement but wait too long to do so, you may be forced 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 get all the compensation you are entitled to. See below for additional information about enlisting a California VA disability lawyer to help appeal VA decisions in California.
Each individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when it was first claimed, so an early effective date for a claim based on knee pain 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. If an initial claim is denied, rated too low, or given an improper 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 simplify the process for our clients, crafting well researched 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 representatives in multiple cities, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because all claims are Federally adjudicated. Therefore, it is not necessary to have a California VA disability lawyer physically located in California. We have helped clients in California, and every other state in America, along with Veterans living abroad.
The appeals process can be long, 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.
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. NODs can be as simple as filling out the form and commenting “I disagree”, or can include dozens of pages of supporting material. The Regional Offices in California are located at:
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 conduct their own review to reach a decision. 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 California, you can contact a California VA disability lawyer from Berry Law for a free consultation on what your options may be.
Not every California VA disability lawyer 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 most difficult trait to evaluate 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 a California VA appeals lawyer who has military experience can make communicating about difficult issues easier 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. Will your law firm understand the intense stress of combat?
Selecting the right firm can make a big difference in reaching the outcome you want.
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. While developing a criminal defense practice, 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 helped grow the firm while keeping its roots in military work ethic and values.
The firm employs Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force Veterans. 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.
John Berry received the Patriot Award from the ESGR, and the firm has been named as “Military and Veterans Law Firm of the Year” by multiple agencies.
A California VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will bring passion for the military and passion for the law to help Veterans fight for disability benefits.
A California VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will represent Veterans throughout California, including those located in cities such as:
VSOs in California
A California VA disability lawyer from our team is unable to help file an initial claim due to certain legal circumstances.
However, many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. Some VSOs have special recognition from the VA for helping Veterans file claims
Local chapters in California include:
California American Legion Posts
List of California VFW Posts
The VA Regional Offices in California are located at:
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