Starting a VA Claim in Maryland
The process of applying for disability benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the country, regardless of where you served or where you currently live. You can apply directly online through the VA or seek 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 generally take several months to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veteran over 75 years of age, 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 adjudicate 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 for every month that has passed since the effective date until their claim is granted.
You should also know 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 it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, 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 Maryland.
The effective date for each disability claim is independent, so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later.
VA Appeals in Maryland
Unfortunately, the VA does not always make the correct decision 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 first step in the VA claims process where a Maryland VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can help.
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 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. So, a Veteran in Maryland does not actually need a VA disability lawyer in Maryland to file their appeal. In fact, our team has helped clients in Maryland, and every other state in America, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries.
Some appeals processes can last years, 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.
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 Maryland is located at: 31 Hopkins Plaza, Baltimore, MD 21201
The Regional Office responds to NODs with a Statement of Case (SOC), which outlines 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 Maryland please reach out to a Maryland VA disability lawyer from our team for more information and a free case evaluation.
Selecting a Maryland VA Certified Attorney
Not every Maryland VA disability attorney is equally equipped to help you bring firepower to your appeal. 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. 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. Some firms only recently added Veterans Appeals to their Social Security practice and are not invested in actually helping Veterans.
Often, 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. A Maryland VA disability lawyer on our team can help ease your mind by providing top notch quality legal representation that has helped thousands of Veterans.
Military service may also be important to you. Choosing to work with a Maryland 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. 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: The Veterans Law Firm
Berry Law Firm was established by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr. While in Vietnam, Berry successfully defended the Green Berets in a highly publicized murder case, 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. 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 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.
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. Also on staff are 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 Maryland Veterans with their legal needs. If you need help appealing a VA decision, contact a Maryland VA disability lawyer from Berry Law today.
Serving Clients from Across Maryland
Our Maryland VA appeals lawyers help Vets from all over Maryland, including in:
- Ocean City
- College Park
- Silver Spring
- Glen Burnie
- Fort Washington
Resources for Veterans in Maryland
VSOs in Maryland
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. Since we are unable to help with this initial step, we often recommend our clients seek the assistance of a local VSO when filing their claim. In fact, certain VSOs are recognized by the VA to help Veterans file claims. VSOs include AMVETS, VFWs, and American Legion posts.
VA Facilities in Maryland
Examples of VA locations located in Maryland are:
VA Health Care System
- Baltimore, MD – VA Maryland Health Care System
VA Medical Center
- Baltimore, MD – Baltimore VA Medical Center – VA Maryland Health Care System
- Baltimore, MD – Loch Raven VA Medical Center – VA Maryland Health Care System
- Perry Point, MD – Perry Point VA Medical Center – VA Maryland Health Care System
- Community Based Outpatient Clinic Skip Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Baltimore, MD – Baltimore VA Annex
- Baltimore, MD – Loch Raven VA Outpatient Clinic
- Cambridge, MD – Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic
- Camp Springs, MD – Southern PG County Outpatient Clinic
- Charlotte Hall, MD – Southern Maryland VA Outpatient Clinic
- Cumberland, MD – Cumberland Outpatient Clinic
- Fort Meade, MD – Fort Meade VA Outpatient Clinic
- Frederick, MD – Fort Detrick VA Outpatient Clinic
- Gaithersburg, MD – Montgomery County Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
- Glen Burnie, MD – Glen Burnie VA Outpatient Clinic
- Hagerstown, MD – Hagerstown Outpatient Clinic
- Pocomoke, MD – Pocomoke City VA Outpatient Clinic
- Rosedale, MD – Eastern Baltimore County VA Outpatient Clinic
- Aberdeen, MD – Aberdeen Outstation
- Annapolis, MD – Annapolis Vet Center
- Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Vet Center
- Clinton, MD – Prince George’s County Vet Center
- Dundalk, MD – Dundalk Vet Center
- Elkton, MD – Elkton Vet Center
- Salisbury, MD – Salisbury Outstation
- Silver Spring, MD – Silver Spring Vet Center
- Towson, MD – RCS North Atlantic District 1
- Linthicum, MD – VISN 5: VA Capitol Health Care Network
Veterans Benefits Administration
- Regional Benefit Office Skip Regional Benefit Office
- Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Regional Office
Intake Site (Pre-Discharge Claims Assistance)
- Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD – Aberdeen Proving Ground
- Annapolis, MD – Annapolis Naval Station/USNA
- Fort Detrick, MD – Fort Detrick
- Fort Meade, MD – Fort Meade
- Indian Head, MD – Indian Head Naval Ord
- NAS Patuxent River, MD – Patuxent River Naval Air Station
- Andrews AFB, MD – Andrews Air Force Base
- Bethesda, MD – Walter Reed National Military Medical Center