All of our Veterans are entitled to due compensation that they sacrificed for in the service of our country, and this includes Veterans in Louisiana, home to approximately 255,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau estimates that 31% of these Veterans have a service-connected disability rating (the average state is 17%). However, there are others who may have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. A Louisiana VA disability lawyer from Berry Law could help you fight for the disability compensation you deserve.
The attorneys at Berry Law have represented Veterans and servicemembers from coast to coast. We pursue Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in the United States and take significant pride in defending Veterans’ rights. If you have been denied VA benefits or received an inadequate rating or effective date, you may want to enlist the support of d Louisiana VA disability lawyer. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Louisiana.
Starting a VA Claim in Louisiana
The process of applying for benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the US, regardless of where you served. You can use the VA’s website to apply or get help from a Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
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). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA.
Initial claims can take a long time to process, but they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, a Veteran 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. Once set, the effective date will not change regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual claims. The effective date is important because the Veteran should receive back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to, extending 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 that it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and receive all the due compensation for the disabilities you incurred in service. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Louisiana.
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.
Appealing a VA Decision with a Louisiana VA Disability Lawyer
Even the most thoroughly prepared claim for benefits may not yield the desired result for a Veteran’s initial claim. When initial claims are denied, given a lower-than-expected rating, or applied to an incorrect effective date, the Veteran has the right to appeal. This is the step where you can enlist a dedicated Louisiana VA disability lawyer from Berry Law.
You can appeal in a number of different ways depending on how the decision was reached. The Louisiana VA disability attorneys at Berry Law help Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality appeals that have been a crucial part of helping Veterans get the compensation they deserve, including back pay. Our team 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 VA claims process because it is Federal in nature. This means that a Louisiana VA disability lawyer does not have to be physically located in Louisiana to help you. Berry Law has helped Veterans in Louisiana, 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 receive back pay for every month that elapsed during 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 Louisiana is located at: 1250 Poydras St. Suite 200, New Orleans, LA 70113.
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 issue a decision that may or may not satisfy the Veteran. 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 Louisiana, please contact a Louisiana VA disability lawyer from Berry Law at (888) 883-2483 for a free consultation on what your options may be.
Selecting a Louisiana VA Certified Appeals Attorney
Not every Louisiana VA disability attorney 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 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 most difficult aspect to evaluate 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 a Louisiana VA appeals lawyer who has served in the military may help improve understand of your situation and reduce the amount of time that you need to spend explaining how the military works. Having a “battle buddy” or “shipmate” who has been in similar circumstances may make you more comfortable opening up about your experiences and individual needs. 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. A Louisiana VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will go to battle for you in an effort to help you receive the disability compensation you deserve.
Berry Law Firm: The Veterans Law Firm
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, earning him significant national praise. 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. 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
In our ranks are Veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. We have lawyers from each branch, and feature both Officers and Enlisted, who left the service ranking between E2 and O6. 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. We also have Reservists and National Guardsmen still attending drill and occasionally mobilizing.
We bring both our passion for the military and our passion for the law to help Louisiana Veterans with their legal needs.
Serving Clients Across Louisiana
Berry Law Firm helps Vets from all over Louisiana, including this in cities such as:
- New Orleans
- Baton Rouge
- Lake Charles
- Bossier City
Resources for Veterans in Louisiana
VSOs in Louisiana
A Louisiana VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will be unable to help you file an initial claim due to certain legal restrictions. However, VSOs can help you file an initial claim. Certain VSOs are recognized by the VA to help Veterans file claims.
Local chapters in Louisiana include:
- Post 63, Gretna, LA
- Post 7, Alexandria, LA
- Post 41, Arabi, LA
- Post 2, Baton Rouge, LA
- Post 47, Chalmette, LA
- Post 67, Jackson, LA
- Post 49, Kenner, LA
- Post 100, LaPlace, LA
- Post 65, Metairie, LA
- Post 66, Monroe, LA
- Post 1990, Monroe, LA
- Post 68, Springfield, LA
- Post 4, West Monroe, LA
- Post 5, West Monroe, LA
- Post 15, West Monroe, LA
- Post 38, Westwego, LA
VA Health Resources
VA Medical Center
New Orleans, LA – Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
Pineville, LA – Alexandria VA Health Care System
Shreveport, LA – Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Shreveport, LA – Shreveport
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
Baton Rouge, LA – Baton Rouge Outpatient Clinic (North Clinic)
Baton Rouge, LA – Baton Rouge Outpatient Clinic (South Clinic)
Bogalusa, LA – Bogalusa VA Outpatient Clinic
Franklin, LA – Franklin VA Outpatient Clinic
Hammond, LA – Hammond VA Outpatient Clinic
Houma, LA – Houma CBOC
Jennings, LA – Jennings Clinic
Lafayette, LA – Lafayette CBOC Campus A
Lafayette, LA – Lafayette CBOC Campus B
Lake Charles, LA – Lake Charles CBOC
Leesville, LA – Fort Polk CBOC
Monroe, LA – Monroe CBOC
Natchitoches, LA – Natchitoches CBOC
New Orleans, LA – New Orleans VA Outpatient Clinic
Reserve, LA – St, John VA Outpatient Clinic
Shreveport, LA – Knight Street Clinic
Slidell, LA – Slidell VA Outpatient Clinic
Alexandria, LA – Alexandria Vet Center
Baton Rouge, LA – Baton Rouge Vet Center
New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Vet Center
Shreveport, LA – Shreveport Vet Center