Veterans deserve compensation for injuries they suffered while defending the United States of America, including Veterans who are currently residing in Puerto Rico, home to roughly 330,000 Veterans. These Veterans are entitled to disability benefits for injuries or disabilities that arose due to their time in service. However, there are many Veterans who incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. A Puerto Rico 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 every State in the US and multiple foreign countries. We fight for Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in America, and we are dedicated to ensuring Veterans’ rights are protected. If you have been denied VA benefits, or received an inadequate rating or effective date, you may want to enlist the support of a Puerto Rico Veterans disability appeal attorney. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Puerto Rico.
- Starting a VA Claim in Puerto Rico
- Submitting a VA Appeal in Puerto Rico
- Selecting a VA Disability Appeals Attorney
- Berry Law: Veterans Serving Veterans
- Serving Clients from Across Puerto Rico
- VA Locations in Puerto Rico
Starting a VA Claim in Puerto Rico
The process of applying for Veterans disability benefits can begin from any location in the US, regardless of where you served or where you currently live. You can apply directly online through the VA 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. You may need to submit additional forms based on your individual circumstances. Additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA. Initial claims can take a long time to process, so patience may be required.
It is important to start your claim as soon as you can 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 you are filing. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran should receive back pay 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.
One reason that Veterans fight so hard to appeal VA decisions is to keep the effective date in place and receive all the compensation for their disabilities. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Puerto Rico. 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 an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later.
Submitting a VA Appeal in Puerto Rico
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, you can appeal the decision. There are separate avenues for appeal depending on what kind of mistake the VA made. This is the first step in the VA claims process that a Puerto Rico VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can help. Our team helps Veterans file high quality appeals, resulting A Puerto Rico VA disability lawyer from Berry Law will help Veterans like you cut through the red tape and file high-quality appeals.
We have representatives in multiple cities, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because it is Federal in nature. Therefore, you do not actually need a VA disability lawyer in Puerto Rico to file your appeal. In fact, our team has helped Veterans in all 50 states, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries, such as Puerto Rico.
Some appeals processes can last years, but as long as you have preserved your effective date by keeping appeals open, you are entitled to back pay for entire time that has elapsed. Most appeals begin with filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with your VA Regional Office. 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 Offices in Puerto Rico is located at 50 Carr 165, Guaynabo, PR 00968-8024.
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 feel that the BVA has made an incorrect ruling, the next step is to appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Puerto Rico please reach out to a Puerto Rico VA disability lawyer from Berry Law for a free consultation on what your options may be.
Selecting a VA-certified Disability Appeals Attorney
Don’t assume that every Puerto Rico 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, 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 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 hardest aspect to gauge 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.
Also, you may want to focus on attorneys who have actually served in the military. Opting for a Puerto Rico VA appeals lawyer who has deployed or mobilized may help improve their understanding of your situation and eliminate the need to explain your military career to someone without similar experience. 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? Making the right decision on hiring a law firm can make a significant difference for the outcome of your case.
Berry Law: Veterans Serving Veterans
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. While developing a criminal defense practice, 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 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, 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 many awards, ribbons, and commendations for their service. Also on staff are members of the Reserves and National Guard still serving. A Puerto Rico VA disability lawyer from our team will combine military and legal training to assist Puerto Rico Veterans with their legal needs.
Serving Clients from Across Puerto Rico
Berry Law’s Puerto Rico VA disability lawyers represent Veterans throughout Puerto Rico, including those in:
- San Juan
- Trujillo Alto
- Vega Baja
- Aguadilla Pueblo
- Rio Crande
- Cabo Rojo
Resources for Veterans in Puerto Rico
Some of the VA facilities in Puerto Rico are:
VA Health Care System
- San Juan, PR – VA Caribbean Healthcare System
- Mayaguez, PR – Mayaguez OPC
- Ponce, PR – Ponce OPC
- Utuado, PR – Utuado VA Rural Outpatient Clinic
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Arecibo, PR – Arecibo CBOC
- Comerio, PR – Comerio Rural Outpatient Clinic
- Guayama, PR – Guayama CBOC
- Pueblo Ward, PR – Ceiba Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Pueblo Ward, PR – Ceiba VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Vieques, PR – Vieques Rural Outpatient Clinic
- Arecibo, PR – Arecibo Vet Center
- Guaynabo, PR – San Juan Vet Center
- Ponce, PR – Ponce Vet Center
Regional Benefit Office
- Guaynabo, PR – San Juan Regional Office