All of our Veterans are entitled to disability compensation for the injuries they sustained while serving our country, and this includes Veterans in Iowa, where there are roughly 193,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 28% of that group have at least one service-connected disability (the average state is 17%). However, there are others who may have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. An Iowa 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 and servicemembers from coast to coast. We fight for Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in America, and we 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 Iowa VA disability lawyer. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Iowa.
A VA disability claim can be initiated from anywhere in the world, regardless of where you served. You can use the VA’s website to apply or use the services of 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 may need to submit additional forms based on your individual circumstances. Additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA.
Initial claims can take a long time to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veterans over 75 years of age, homelessness, or financial hardship.
It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to establish an early effective date. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully adjudicate a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual claims you are filing. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran is entitled to back pay. They will receive the back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to, extending 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 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 resulting in a new effective date. This is one reason why it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and receive all the compensation for the disabilities you have. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Iowa.
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 a gastrointestinal claim initially filed years later.
Unfortunately, the VA does not always make the correct 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. You can appeal in a number of different ways depending on how the decision was reached. 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 deserve, including large sums of back pay awards.
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 VA claims are Federally adjudicated. This means that you do not necessarily need an Iowa VA disability lawyer that is physically present in Iowa. In fact, Berry Law has helped Veterans in Iowa 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.
The first type of appeal is usually a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). This form 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 Office in Iowa is located at: 210 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50309.
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 are unsatisfied with the BVA decision, you can then appeal to the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) for further adjudication. If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Iowa, you can contact an Iowa VA disability lawyer at Berry Law for more information and to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Not every Iowa VA disability attorney is identical. If you decide to hire an attorney to help with your claim, you should pick one that will stick with you for the duration of your case, and who has represented Veterans with every type of appeal.
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. Some firms only recently added Veterans Appeals to their Social Security practice and are not invested in actually helping Veterans.
The most difficult trait to evaluate 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 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 Iowa VA appeals lawyer who has actually served in the military can facilitate better communication 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? An Iowa VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will fight for your disability compensation at every single step of the appeals process. We understand how these cases work and how to use our experience to craft effective legal arguments.
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. 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. After leaving the service, he opened his own firm focused on criminal defense, but where 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 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 feature both Officers and Enlisted, with service ranks ranging from E2 – O6 (including an E9). Our Veterans have served in Vietnam, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, at sea, and elsewhere around the world, 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 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.
An Iowa VA disability lawyer on our team will bring both passion for the military and passion for the law to help Iowa Veterans in their fight for disability benefits.
Berry Law Firm helps Vets from all over Iowa, including those located in:
If you are a Veteran in Iowa who needs assistance appealing your VA decision or believe you were rated too low by the VA, please contact an Iowa VA disability lawyer on our team at (888) 883-2483 to see how we can help.
VA Health Care System
Community Service Programs
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
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