VA Disability Appeals in Vermont
America’s Veterans deserve the compensation that they sacrificed for while in the service, and this includes Veterans in Vermont, where there are roughly 50,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 13% 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.
The attorneys of Berry Law have represented Veterans from coast to coast. 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, or received an inadequate rating or effective date, you could benefit from the help of a Vermont VA-certified disability advocate. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Vermont.
Getting started with a VA disability claim can begin from any location in the world, regardless of whether you served in that location. You can apply directly online through the VA, or get help from a Veterans Service Organization (VSO). See a List of VSOs in Vermont.
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ, or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. You can also submit VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a if you want the VA to assist in gathering medical evidence on your behalf. Additional forms may be required if you are filing a claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or for Total Disability based upon Individual Unemployability (TDIU). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA.
Initial claims can take a long time to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veteran age over 75, homelessness, or financial hardship. The average time is 4-6 months, although it is not unusual to take up to a year to get a response.
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 adjudicate a claim, which may last several years depending on the individual 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.
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 miss the deadline, you may be forced to reopen your claim leading to a new effective date. This is one reason it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and get all the compensation you are entitled to. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Vermont.
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.
Even the most thoroughly prepared claim for benefits may not yield the desired result 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.
There are several different ways to appeal a ruling based on what you believe the VA’s error was. Berry Law can help you present the most compelling appeal for your case, and has helped Veterans recover over $100 Million in backpay owed to them by the government.
We have representatives in multiple cities, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because all claims are Federally adjudicated. We have helped clients in Vermont, and each of the other 49 states, along with Veterans in US territories and foreign countries.
Some appeals processes can last years, 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). 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 Office in Vermont is located at: 163 Veterans Drive, White River Junction, VT 05009
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 CAVC.
If you would like help appealing a VA decision in Vermont you can contact Berry Law for more information and a free consultation.
Don’t assume that every Vermont VA disability attorney is equally equipped to help you bring firepower to your appeal. If you would like to use an attorney, 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.
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 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.
You may also want to focus on attorneys who have actually served in the military. Selecting a Vermont VA appeals lawyer who has actually served in the military can facilitate better communication and reduce the amount of time that you need to spend explaining how the military works. Having shared military values with your law firm can make the process more comfortable and less stressful. Will your law firm understand the intense stress of combat?
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 helped Veterans with legal work, particularly supporting fellow Vietnam Veterans who had been disabled in service. 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 built a Firm that lives on military tradition and values.
On our staff 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 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.
John Berry received the Patriot Award from the ESGR, the firm has received the Nebraska ESGR’s Pro Patria award and 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 Vermont
Berry Law Firm helps Vets from all over Vermont, including cities such as:
VSOs in Vermont
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims. The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA.
VSO locations in Vermont include:
The American Legion in Vermont
DAV Chapters in Vermont
VFW Posts in Vermont
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