America’s Veterans are entitled to compensation for injures that were the result of the sacrifices they made while defending our country, including Veterans living in Montana, where there are approximately 94,400 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 19% of Veterans living in Montana have a service-connected disability rating (the national average is 17%). However, there are still Veterans who may have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. An experienced Montana 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 in every state in the US and have even represented Veterans living in foreign countries. We pursue Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in the United States and take great pride in defending Veterans’ rights. If you have been denied VA benefits, received an inadequate rating, or were given an incorrect effective date, you could benefit from the help of a Montana Veterans disability appeal attorney. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Montana.
The process of applying for benefits can begin from any location in the country, regardless of whether you served in that location. 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. Additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). 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, so patience may be required. It is important to start your claim early to establish an early effective date. Your claim’s 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 filed. 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. It is also 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 miss the deadline, you may be forced to reopen your claim. This would give your claim a new effective date and can decrease the amount of compensation you receive. One reason that Veterans fight so hard to appeal VA decisions is to keep the effective date in place and get all the compensation they are entitled to. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Montana.
One important note is that each individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when it was first claimed, so an early effective date for a claim based on knee pain 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. This is the first step in the process that a VA appeals attorney from Berry Law can help you with your claim. You can appeal in a variety of different ways depending on how the decision was reached. A Montana VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can help you appeal your decision.
Berry Law helps simplify the process for our clients, crafting well researched appeals that have helped Veterans recover over $100 Million in backpay owed to them by the government. 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. Therefore, you do not need a VA disability lawyer in Montana to help with your appeal. Our team at Berry Law has helped Veterans in Montana and every other state in America, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries. We understand what it takes to win an appeal and we are committed to helping Veterans in their fight for disability compensation.
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 entire process. Most appeals begin with filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with your VA Regional Office. The NOD, usually due within one year of a rating decision, 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 Offices in Montana are located at: 3633 Veterans Dr., Building 167, Fort Harrison, MT 59636.
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. If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Montana, please reach out to a Montana VA disability lawyer on our team to schedule a free consultation and discuss what your options may be.
Not every Montana VA disability attorney is identical. If you choose to get help from an attorney to appeal your claim, you should pick one that will stick with you for the duration of your case and who has experience with appeals at every step of the VA claims process. 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. Beware of firms that only began practicing Veterans Law after 2007 when it became more “profitable” for them. Often, 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. Selecting a Montana 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. 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.
Finally, consider the values of the firm to see if they align with your own. This is a law firm that you may be tied to for a decade so be sure that they will be a good partner.
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, resulting in major news coverage and an elite reputation. 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. He 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.
In our ranks are Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force Veterans. 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 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 wearing the uniform.
John Berry, Jr., received the Patriot Award from the ESGR for his commitment to employing individuals in the National Guard and Reserves. The firm has been named as “Military and Veterans Law Firm of the Year” by multiple agencies. We bring both our passion for the military and our passion for the law to help Montana Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. Contact a Montana VA disability lawyer on our team to see if we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Berry Law Firm helps Vets from all over Montana, Our Montana VA disability lawyers help Veterans across the state, including Veterans residing in cities such as:
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. In fact, we often recommend Veterans seek the help of a local VSO when filing their initial claim. The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA. Examples of VSOs include AMVETS, The American Legion, and VFW Posts
Some VA locations located in Montana are:
Regional Benefit Office
VA Health Care System
VA Medical Center
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
Intake Site (Pre-Discharge Claims Assistance)
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