America’s Veterans should receive disability compensation for injuries that occurred while defending our country, including Veterans living in Oklahoma, home to approximately 312,492 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 23% of that group have a service-connected disability rating (the national average is 17%). However, there are many more who have suffered injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. An Oklahoma VA disability lawyer from Berry Law could help you fight for the disability benefits you deserve.
The attorneys at Berry Law have represented Veterans and servicemembers in all 50 states. 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 may want to enlist the support of an Oklahoma VA appeals attorney. The following article is meant to help you understand Veterans’ disability benefits in Oklahoma.
The process of applying for disability benefits can begin from any location in the country, regardless of where you live or where you served. You can use the VA’s website to apply or get help from a local VSO (Veterans Service Organization). Because we cannot help with filing an initial claim, we often suggest Veterans get the help of a VSO when they file their initial claim.
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:
It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to set an early effective date for your claim. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which can take years in certain situations. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran is entitled to back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to 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 miss the deadline, you may be forced 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 get all the disability compensation they are entitled to. 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. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Oklahoma.
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 that you can enlist the help of an Oklahoma VA disability lawyer from Berry Law.
There are separate avenues for appeal depending on what kind of mistake the VA made. Berry Law helps Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality 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. So, you do not actually need a VA disability lawyer in Oklahoma to help with your claim. In fact, our team has helped Veterans in Oklahoma and each of the other 49 states, 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 every month that has passed. 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 Offices in Oklahoma are located at: 125 South Main Street, Muskogee, OK 74401.
The Regional Office responds to NODs with a Statement of Case (SOC), which outlines 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 Oklahoma, please reach out to an Oklahoma VA disability lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.
Don’t assume that every Oklahoma VA disability attorney is identical. If you choose to get help from a Veterans disability lawyer in Oklahoma, 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.
Oftentimes, 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. Choosing to work with an Oklahoma VA appeals lawyer who has military experience may help improve their understanding of your situation and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences. Fellow Veterans often make great wingmen when it comes to helping you work through difficult situations. When it’s time to fix bayonets and charge a position, will your attorney understand? 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 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, earning him significant national praise. After leaving the service, he opened his own firm focused on criminal defense, but where 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 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 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 have served in Vietnam, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, at sea, and elsewhere around the world, and combined have earned hundreds of awards, ribbons, and commendations for their service. We also have Reservists and National Guardsmen still attending drill and occasionally mobilizing.
An Oklahoma VA disability lawyer from our team will bring passion for the military and passion for the law to help Oklahoma Veterans with their legal needs.
An Oklahoma VA disability lawyer can help you with your appeal, regardless of where you live. We help clients throughout Oklahoma, including those located in:
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. In fact, we often recommend that Veterans seek the assistance of a VSO when filing an initial claim. The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA. Examples of VSOs include the American Legion, AMVETS, and VFW Posts.
VA Health Care System
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
Regional Benefit Office
Intake Site (Pre-Discharge Claims Assistance)
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