All of our Veterans should receive due compensation for their sacrifices made in service, and this includes Veterans in Pennsylvania, where there are approximately 950,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 11% of that group have at least one service-connected disability, significantly below the national average of 17%. Our mission is to make sure that every Veteran receives the disability benefits that they fought for, and that means ensuring adequate VA disability ratings for all Pennsylvania Veterans. A dedicated Pennsylvania VA disability lawyer may be able to help.
At Berry Law Firm we represent Veterans in all 50 states. We pursue Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in the United States and are dedicated to ensuring Veterans’ rights are protected. If you have been denied VA disability benefits or are unhappy with your rating decision, you could benefit from the help of a Pennsylvania VA appeals lawyer. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Pennsylvania.
The process of applying for benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the country, regardless of where you served.
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, Veterans over 75 years old, 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 at the monthly rate they are entitled to reaching 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 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 Pennsylvania.
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.
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 step where you can enlist the help of an experienced Pennsylvania VA disability lawyer.
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 receive the compensation they are entitled to, 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 appeals process because it is Federal in nature. Pennsylvania VA appeals lawyers do not need to be located in Pennsylvania to help with a VA disability appeal. Our team has helped clients in Pennsylvania, 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 VA Regional Offices in Pennsylvania are located at: 5000 Wissahickon Ave. Philadelphia, PA and 1000 Liberty Ave. Pittsburgh, PA.
The Regional Office responds to NODs with a Statement of Case (SOC), which outlines details 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 Pennsylvania, please contact a Pennsylvania VA disability lawyer at (888) 883-2483 for more information and a free consultation.
Not every Pennsylvania 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 only interested in the monetary gains that can be made by assisting Veterans.
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 about 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 a VA disability lawyer serving Pennsylvania 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 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 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.
A Pennsylvania VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will bring both passion for the military and passion for the law to help Pennsylvania Veterans with their legal needs.
Berry Law Firm helps Vets from all over Pennsylvania, including in:
VSOs in Pennsylvania
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. Certain VSOs are recognized by the VA to help Veterans file claims.
VSO locations in Pennsylvania include:
AMVETS Posts in Pennsylvania
The American Legion in Pennsylvania
Examples of VA locations located in Pennsylvania are:
VA Regional Offices
INTAKE SITES (PRE-DISCHARGE CLAIMS ASSISTANCE)
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND EMPLOYMENT
BENEFITS DELIVERY AT DISCHARGE
VETERAN SERVICE CENTER
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