Veterans Disability Appeals in Virginia
America’s Veterans should receive the compensation that they earned while in the service, and this includes each of the Veterans in Virginia, where there are approximately 730,000 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 19% of these Veterans have at least one service-connected disability (the average state is 17%). However, there are many more who have suffered injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. A Virginia Veterans disability lawyer from Berry Law can help you in your battle for disability compensation.
The attorneys of Berry Law have represented Veterans and servicemembers in every state. 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 benefits, or received an inadequate rating or effective date, you could benefit from the help of a Virginia Veterans disability lawyer. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Virginia.
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Getting started with a VA disability claim can begin from any location in the US, regardless of where you served. Certainly you can file your claim in Virginia if you served at Naval Station Norfolk or Little Creek, or if you left Active Duty after a tour in Virginia, but it actually doesn’t matter. Because VA Claims are considered a Federal affair, the state in which you apply technically doesn’t matter. It used to be somewhat relevant because some VA Regional Offices were notoriously slower or more mistake-prone than others, but the claims review process has been nationalized so that it is not as much of a factor anymore.
To get started with filing a claim for VA disability compensation, you can apply personally online through the VA, by sending forms directly to the VA, or by seeking the help of a Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
Before applying, you may want to review the very basic requirements for qualifying for VA disability compensation. At the very minimum, you must have served active time in the US military, been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, have a current disability, and be able to show that it was caused or aggravated by your military service.
Once you are sure that you qualify, the first piece of paperwork you need to complete is VA Form 21-526EZ, or you can go electronic and simply 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 for PTSD or 0781a for PTSD due to Military Sexual Trauma) and specific forms if you wish to be rated Total Disability due to Individual Unemployability (21-8940 and 21-4192) 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, so patience may be required. There is usually nothing that can be done to speed up the VA process, although there are ways to advance certain steps if you are over 75 years old, are terminally ill, homeless, or in other financially precarious positions.
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 settle 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.
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 be forced 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 compensation for their disabilities that they earned. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Virginia.
The effective date for each disability claim is independent so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to a gastrointestinal claim initially filed years later.
Despite a solid claim, the VA Regional Office may nonetheless make an improper 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, you can appeal the decision.
There are several different ways to appeal a ruling based on what you believe the VA’s error was. Berry Law helps simplify the process for our clients, crafting well researched 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. Therefore, it is not vital to have a Virginia Veterans disability lawyer physically present in Virginia. In fact, we have helped clients in Virginia and every other state in America, 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.
Most appeals begin with filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with your VA Regional Office. The NOD, usually due within one year of a rating decision, 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 Office in Virginia is located at: 210 Franklin Rd., SW Roanoke, VA 24011.
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 issue a decision that may or may not satisfy the Veteran. 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 Virginia you can contact a Virginia Veterans disability lawyer at Berry Law for more information and a free consultation.
Not every Virginia VA disability attorney is the same. 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 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.
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. Selecting a Virginia VA appeals lawyer who has actually served in the military can make communicating about difficult issues easier and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences to someone without similar experience. 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?
Selecting the right firm can make a big difference in reaching the outcome you want.
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 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 earlier Active Duty tours in both Bosnia and Iraq. John has built a Firm that lives on military tradition and values.
The firm employs Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force Veterans. 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 have the accompanying ribbon racks of sustained superior service to the country. Also on staff are Reservists and National Guardsmen still serving.
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.
A Virginia Veterans disability lawyer from our team will bring both their passion for the military and their passion for the law to help Virginia Veterans in their fight for disability benefits.
Berry Law has some significant roots in Virginia, as managing partner John S. Berry, Jr. attended The College of William & Mary, where he earned his B.A. while also a cadet in ROTC. The Berry family traces 19th Century ancestors to Virginia, as well. Berry Law is proud to represents Veterans throughout Virginia, including those located in:
VSOs in Virginia
Many Veterans utilize VSOs to file initial claims because legal restrictions prohibit a Virginia Veterans disability lawyer from our team from helping during this initial step. Certain VSOs are recognized by the VA to help Veterans file claims.
Local chapters in Virginia include:
AMVETS in Virginia
American Legion Posts in Virginia
VFW Posts in Virginia
A few of the VA locations in Virginia are:
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