VA Disability Appeals in Hawaii
Hawaii has been one of America’s most Veteran-friendly states since it first joined the union. It is currently home to 115,000 Veterans, and the Census Bureau estimates that about 17% of these Veterans have at least one service-connected disability, in line with the national average. However, there are many more Hawaiians who suffered injuries in service yet do not have a VA disability rating that would grant them compensation for their losses.
At Berry Law Firm, we represent Veterans in every state. We fight for Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in America, and take great pride in defending the rights of individual Veterans as well as fighting for the community as a whole. If you have been denied VA benefits, or are unhappy with your rating decision, you could benefit from the help of a Hawaii Veterans disability appeal attorney. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Hawaii.
The process of applying for benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the world, regardless of whether you served in that location. The VA does not distinguish between initial claims filed in CONUS or OCONUS, and your rights aren’t different in Hawaii than on the mainland. Starting a claim is fairly easy and can be done on the VA’s website, or with 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. 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 can take a long time 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 example, if you have one year to file a notice of disagreement but wait too long to do so, you may have 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 Hawaii.
Each individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when it was first claimed, so an earlier effective date for a shoulder disability will usually not apply to a gastrointestinal claim which is first filed years afterward.
Despite a solid claim, the Hawaii VA Regional Office may nonetheless make an improper decision for a Veteran’s initial 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 several different ways to appeal a ruling based on what you believe the VA’s error was. 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 attorneys and advocates in various locations throughout the US, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because it is Federal in nature. Berry Law has helped Veterans in Hawaii, 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). 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 Hawaii is located in Honolulu at: 459 Patterson Road, E Wing, Room 2A100C, Honolulu, HI 96819
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 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 Hawaii you can contact Berry Law for more information and a free consultation.
Not every Hawaii VA disability attorney is equally equipped to help you bring firepower to your appeal. 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. A lengthy history of practicing Veterans law is a good indication that a Law Firm will not abandon you in the middle of an appeals process. 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.
You may also want to focus on attorneys who have actually served in the military. Choosing to work with a Hawaii VA appeals lawyer who has deployed or mobilized can make communicating about difficult issues easier and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences to someone without similar experience. Nothing can replace the camaraderie developed through shared service experiences. Will your law firm understand the intense stress of combat?
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. 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 earlier Active Duty tours in both Bosnia and Iraq. John has built a Firm that lives on military tradition 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 have the accompanying ribbon racks of sustained superior service to the country. Also on staff are Reservists and National Guardsmen still serving.
John Berry received the Patriot Award and the Pro Patria Award from the ESGR, and the firm has been named as “Military and Veterans Law Firm of the Year” by multiple awarding agencies and organizations.
We combine our military and legal training to assist Hawaii Veterans with their legal needs.
Berry Law represents Veterans throughout Hawaii, including in:
VSOs in Hawaii
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims.
The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA.
VSO locations in Hawaii include:
VFW Posts in Hawaii
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.