VA Disability Appeals in Texas
Texas Veterans have a proud military history, and their service to America entitles them to due compensation that they earned while in uniform. The state has one of the highest populations of Veterans, with more than 1.6 Million current Veteran residents. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 20% of these Veterans have a service-connected disability rating, slightly above the national average of 17%. Nonetheless, there are Veterans in Texas who have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating or the associated compensation. A Texas Veterans disability attorney from Berry Law can ensure that you rights to disability compensation are protected.
The attorneys of Berry Law have represented Veterans in all 50 states, and continue to do so proudly, with more than 300 current Texas clients. We fight for Veterans’ disability appeals at every VA Regional Office in America, and take significant pride in defending Veterans’ rights. If you have been denied VA benefits, or are unhappy with your VA rating decision, you could benefit from the help of a Texas Veterans disability attorney. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Texas and help you determine the next steps if you are a deserving Veteran without an accurate disability rating.
Because the VA is a Federal system, the process of applying for benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the world, regardless of where you served. You do not need to apply in the state where you first joined the military, the state where you were last stationed, or your home of record.
To begin the process of acquiring benefits, you can use the VA’s website to apply, or seek the help of a Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
To get started with a VA disability claim in Texas, 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, such as specific forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (21-8940 and 21-4192). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA to get your claim moving. Even though your claim is made in Texas, all of the claims are currently being routed through Janesville, Wisconsin.
Initial claims can take a long time to process, so patience may be required. While the VA continues to streamline their processes, it is not unusual for a claim to take over a year at each step of the process.
It is important to start your claim early to establish an early effective date. The effective date remains in place regardless of how long it takes to fully settle a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual claims and how readily available the evidence is to support those claims. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran should receive back pay at the monthly rate they are entitled to reaching from the final decision date all the way back to the effective date.
For example, if you made a claim that would entitle you to a 30% disability rating back in March 2014, and it was finally granted in March 2018, you would then receive a lump sum payment for 4 years worth of payment at the 30% level, in addition to monthly checks going forward.
It is 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 have to reopen your claim leading to 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 owed compensation for their disabilities. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Texas.
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 due to Military Sexual Trauma (MST) submitted years later.
While we always hope a Veterans claim will be approved, but the VA does not always make the correct evaluation of a Veteran’s initial claim. They receive thousands of claims per month and are given the difficult task of sorting through decades worth of potential evidence. When initial claims are denied, or assigned a lower-than-expected rating, or applied to an incorrect effective date, the Veteran has the right to appeal.
There are several different ways to appeal a ruling based on what you believe the VA’s error was. Berry Law helps Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality evidence-based appeals that have achieved desired results for Veterans for decades.
We have representatives in multiple cities, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because it is Federal in nature. Berry Law has helped Veterans in Texas, and each of the other 49 states, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries.
The appeals process can be long, but as long as 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. An NOD can simply state “I disagree”, or can include substantial amounts of supporting evidence. There are two Regional Offices in Texas, which are located at: 6900 Almeda Road, Houston, TX 77030, and 701 Clay Avenue, Waco, TX 76799.
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 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.
Under the proposed Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, there are now 3 avenues for appeals of initial rating decisions. To determine which matches your needs, it may be wise to consult with a Texas disability appeals attorney.
If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Texas please contact the team of attorneys at Berry Law Firm for a free consultation on what your options may be.
Don’t assume that every Texas VA disability attorney is identical. 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. A lengthy history of practicing Veterans law is a good indication that a Law Firm will not abandon you in the middle of a years-long appeals process. Beware of firms that only began practicing Veterans Law after 2007 when it became more “profitable” for them, as they may be tempted to abandon your case if the law changes to make the case less lucrative for the attorney.
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. While the total number of years of practice can serve as a proxy for experience, it’s hard to gauge the quality of the actual work product until it’s done, or in the nightmare scenario: not done. Testimonials and reviews of a law firm can provide you with additional insight that may help you determine how well the law firm has done for other Veterans in similar circumstances.
Military service may also be important to you. Choosing to work with a Texas 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. 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. A Texas Veterans disability attorney from Berry Law will fight for the disability benefits you are entitled to.
Berry Law Firm was established by Vietnam Veteran and former Army Captain, John Stevens Berry, Sr. While in Vietnam, Berry successfully defended the Green Berets in a highly publicized murder case of a double agent, resulting in major international news coverage and an elite reputation for fierce representation. While developing a criminal defense practice in Nebraska, he also represented many fellow Vietnam 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 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.
The firm employs Veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. We have attorneys hailing from each branch, and feature both Officers and Enlisted who left the service ranking between E2 and O6. Our Veterans served during every major conflict since Vietnam, and combined have earned hundreds of awards, ribbons, and commendations for their service. We also have members of the Reserves and National Guard still wearing the uniform on weekends.
John Berry received the Patriot Award from the ESGR, and the firm has been named as “Military and Veterans Law Firm of the Year” by multiple agencies. Berry Law Firm was a Semi-Finalist for the 2019 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
A Texas Veterans disability attorney from our team will use military and legal training to assist Texas Veterans with their legal needs.
Berry Law represents Veterans throughout the Lone Star State, taking clients from cities such as:
VSOs in Texas
Certain legal restrictions prohibit a Texas Veterans disability attorney from helping to file an initial claim. But, VSOs can help you file an initial claim. Certain VSOs are recognized by the VA to help Veterans file claims, and they can be specially certified by the VA to do so.
Local chapters in Texas include:
The American Legion
Some of the VA locations in Texas dedicated to helping with Veterans claims are:
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