Starting a VA Claim in Georgia
Getting started with a Georgia VA disability claim can be initiated from anywhere in the country, regardless of whether you served in that location. You may have been hurt while at Ft Benning but don’t need to be there to file your initial claim.
Initial claims can be filed directly online through the VA eBenefits portal, or by using the assistance of an accredited Georgia Veterans Service Organization (VSO). A third option is to begin the paperwork process yourself by completing VA Form 21-526EZ, which can be found on the VA’s website. 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 using the address or fax number on the forms.
Initial claims can take several months to process. The average in early 2019 was around 120 days, but some clients have reported that their claims take up to a year to be processed and a decision released.
When deciding to start filing your claim, it is important to start the process early so that you establish an early “effective date.” The effective date remains in place 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 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, so that you can keep the effective date in place and get all the compensation you are entitled to. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Georgia.
Each individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when it was first claimed, so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later.
Submitting an Appeal with a Georgia VA Disability Lawyer
Despite a Georgia servicemember submitting a solid claim, the Decatur Regional Office may nonetheless make an inadequate decision regarding the 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 Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality appeals that have achieved desired results for Veterans for decades. Even as the law changes to alter the process, Berry Law stays on top of changes to provide informed advice to our clients.
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 Georgia along with Veterans in every other US state, US territories and even some foreign countries.
The appeals process can be long, but if 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. Being persistent and relentless in your claim can be very advantageous.
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. A NOD can simply state “I disagree” or can include substantial amounts of supporting evidence The Regional Office in Georgia is located at: 1700 Clairmont Rd Decatur, GA 30033.
Under the traditional appeals cycle, 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 are unsatisfied with the BVA decision, you can then appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) for further adjudication.
There are new appeals methods available through the Appeals Modernization Act, and speaking with an attorney or advocate can help you decide what the best route to take is. If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Georgia, you can contact Berry Law for a free consultation on what your options may be.
Selecting a Georgia VA Disability Attorney
Not every Georgia VA disability lawyer is identical. If you choose to get help from an attorney for preparing and submitting your claim, it is a good idea to select one that will continue working with you throughout the multi-year process, and who has represented Veterans with every type of appeal. A lengthy history of practicing Georgia Veterans law is a good indication that a Law Firm will not abandon you in the middle of an appeals process. Some firms only recently added Veterans Appeals to their Social Security practice and are not invested in helping Veterans.
The hardest aspect to select for is how well your lawyer will perform when it comes to extensive research, well-structured arguments, and compelling evidence. More experience often translates to superior work product, but not always. You may want to read reviews and testimonials from a potential Georgia 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. Opting for a Georgia VA appeals lawyer who has deployed or mobilized may help improve understand of your situation 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. When it’s time to fix bayonets and charge a position, will your attorney understand? A Georgia VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can assist you in your fight for disability compensation.
Lastly, you will want to gauge the responses you receive regarding your inquiry to see how likely the attorney is to help in a timely manner.
Berry Law Firm: The Veterans Law Firm
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. While developing a criminal defense practice, he also represented many Veterans on a pro bono basis against the VA. 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 earlier Active Duty tours in both Bosnia and Iraq. John has helped grow the firm while keeping its roots in military work ethic and values.
John Berry got his Ranger tab at Fort Benning, and has fond memories of his time in Georgia.
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 members of the Reserves and National Guard still serving.
A Georgia VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will bring both passion for the military and passion for the law to help Georgia Veterans with their legal needs. Berry Law Firm helps Vets from all over Georgia, including those located in:
- Sandy Springs
- Johns Creek
- Warner Robins
- Peachtree Corners
- East Point
- Peachtree City
- Richmond County
- Clarke County
- Bibb County
Resources for Veterans in Georgia
VSOs in Georgia
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. Certain VSOs are recognized by the VA to help Veterans file claims. VSO locations in Georgia include:
- Post GA-0911, Atlanta, GA
- Post GA-0010, Athens, GA
- Post GA-0009, Columbus, GA
- Post GA-0005, Hephzibah (Augusta), GA
- Post GA-0062, Dublin, GA
- Post GA-0044, Decatur, GA
- Post GA-0099, Carrollton, GA
- Post GA-0012, Winder, GA
- Post GA-0607, Valdosta, GA
- Post GA-0621, Waycross, GA
- Post GA-0777, Tifton, GA
- Post GA-0110, Sandersville, GA
- Post GA-0142, Newnan, GA
- Post GA-0118, Lithia Springs, GA
Georgia American Legion
- Post 1, Atlanta, GA
- Post 3, Macon, GA
- Post 4, Augusta, GA
- Post 13, Valdosta, GA
- Post 20, Athens, GA
- Post 29, Marietta, GA
- Post 35, Columbus, GA
- Post 50, Atlanta (College Park), GA
- Post 65, Brookhaven, GA
- Post 135, Savannah, GA
- Post 144, Pelham, GA
- Post 154, Tybee Island, GA
- Post 160, Smyrna, GA
- Post 164, Pembroke, GA
- Post 172, Warner Robins, GA
- Post 201, Alpharetta, GA
- Post 217, Chickamauga, GA
- Post 232, Snellville, GA
- Post 311, Jesup, GA
VA Locations in Georgia
- Atlanta Regional Office, 1700 Clairmont Road, Decatur, GA 30033
- Fort Benning Intake Site, 6520 Marchant Avenue, Bldg. 2751, Fort Benning, GA 31905
- Fort Gordon Intake Site, 405 Barnes Avenue, Bldg. 29610, Fort Gordon, GA 30905
- Fort Stewart Intake Site, 55 Pony Soldier Road, Bldg. 253, Fort Stewart, GA 31314
INTEGRATED DISABILITY EVALUATION SYSTEM
- Fort Benning IDES Site, 6600 Van Aalst Boulevard, Upatoi Clinic, Fort Benning, GA 31905
- Fort Gordon IDES Site, 235 Central Hospital Road, IDES Building 001, Fort Gordon, GA 30905
- Fort Stewart IDES Site, 686 Harmon Drive, Building 206, Fort Stewart, GA 31314
- Robins Air Force Base, 78th Medical Group, 655 7th Street, Room F1068, Robins Air Force Base, GA 31098
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND EMPLOYMENT
- Augusta Field Office, VA Medical Center, 1 Freedom Way, Room 2D105 Uptown, Augusta, GA 30904
- Columbus Field Office, 233 12th Street, Suite 820, Columbus, GA 31901
- Fort Benning Field Office, 6520 Marchant Avenue, Bldg. 2571, Fort Benning, GA 31905
- Fort Benning Field Office, 6600 Van Aalst Boulevard, Upatoi Clinic, Fort Benning, GA 31905
- Fort Gordon Field Office, 405 Barnes Avenue, Bldg. 29610, Fort Gordon, GA 30905
- Fort Gordon Field Office, 235 Central Hospital Road, IDES Building 001, Fort Gordon, GA 30905
- Fort Stewart Field Office, Solider and Family Assistance Center, 1145 Niles Avenue, Bldg. 4973, Fort Stewart, GA 31314
- Fort Stewart Field Office, 686 Harmon Avenue, Building 206, Fort Stewart, GA 31314
- Robins Air Force Base, 78th Medical Group, 655 7th Street, Room F1068, Robins Air Force Base, GA 31098
- Savannah Field Office, 613 Stephenson Avenue, Suite 203, Savannah, GA 31405
- Tifton Field Office, 114 West 12th Street, Suite F, Tifton, GA 31794