Starting a VA Claim in Virginia
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.
Utilizing a Virginia Veterans Disability Lawyer to Submit an Appeal
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.
Selecting a VA-certified Disability Appeals Attorney
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: Veterans Serving Veterans
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.
Serving Clients Throughout Virginia
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:
- Virginia Beach
- Newport News
- Tysons Corner
Resources for Veterans in Virginia
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
- Post VA-DEPT – Fredricksburg, VA
- Post VA-0003 – Fredericksburg, VA
- Post VA-0014 – Norfolk, VA
- Post DC-0015 – Lorton, VA
- Post VA-0018 – Winchester, VA
- Post VA-0030 – Hampton, VA
- Post VA-0035 – Collinsville, VA
- Post VA-0069 – Virginia Beach, VA
- Post VA-0511 – Staunton, VA
- Post VA-0818 – Jonesville, VA
American Legion Posts in Virginia
- Post 10 Manassas
- Post 24 Alexandria
- Post 35 Norfolk
- Post 39 Williamsburg
- Post 40 Blackstone
- Post 67 Hampton
- Post 85 Arlington
- Post 88 Nansemond
- Post 90 Beaverdam
- Post 110 Virginia Beach
- Post 113 Virginia Beach
- Post 128 Greene County
- Post 130 Falls Church
- Post 149 Dinwiddie
- Post 159 Chincoteague
- Post 175 Mechanicsville
- Post 176 Springfield
- Post 177 Fairfax
- Post 190 Portsmouth
- Post 201 Powhatan
- Post 210 Richmond
- Post 215 Goochland
- Post 247 Remington
- Post 270 McLean
- Post 280 Chesapeake
- Post 327 Norfolk
- Post 340 East Augusta County
- Post 361 Richmond
- Post 368 Newport News
- Post 1776 Williamsburg
- Post 1976 Annandale
VFW Posts in Virginia
- VFW Post 609, 1450 Wilkes Street, Alexandria, VA
- VFW Post 9855, 106 W. Patricia Ann Ln, Appomattox, VA
- VFW Post 3150, 2116 19th Street North, Arlington, VA
- VFW Post 10657, 11568 Cedar Lane, Ashland, VA
- VFW Post 9660, 14550 Runion Creek, Broadway, VA
- VFW Post 5895, 19753 Main St (Town Hall), Buchanan, VA
- VFW Post 2894, 110 Kempsville Rd, Chesapeake, VA
- VFW Post 4299, 724 A Commercial Ave, Clifton Forge, VA
- VFW Post 8469, 5703 Vogue Rd, Fairfax Station, VA
- VFW Post 9274, 7118 Shreve Rd, Falls Church, VA
- VFW Post 3103, 2701 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg, VA
- VFW Post 7728, 12496 Harpers Run, Fredericksburg, VA
- VFW Post 1860, 22 W. 8th Street, Front Royal, VA
- VFW Post 3219, 122 E Mellen St, Hampton, VA
- VFW Post 632, 450 Waterman Drive, Harrisonburg, VA
- VFW Post 1177, 401 Old Waterford Rd NW, Leesburg, VA
- VFW Post 1499, 105 Memorial Lane, Lexington, VA
- VFW Post 621, 218 Veterans Lane, Luray, VA
- VFW Post 12179, 1908 Old Forest Rd, Lynchburg, VA
- VFW Post 1811, 98 Hardees Dr, Manassas, VA
- VFW Post 7589, 9304 Centreville Rd, Manassas, VA
- VFW Post 176, 21 Forest Drive, Newport News, VA
- VFW Post 5500, 1435A Todds Ln, Newport News, VA
- VFW Post 3160, 111 A View Ave, Norfolk, VA
- VFW Post 4809, 5728 Bartee St, Norfolk, VA
- VFW Post 993, 76 Afton PKWY, Portsmouth, VA
- VFW Post 9600, 11120 Main Street, Pound, VA
- VFW Post 9640, 214 VFW Rd, Pounding Mill, VA
- VFW Post 1184, 2 Dora HWY, Pulaski, VA
- VFW Post 776, 102 Watts Street, Radford, VA
- VFW Post 6364, 6502 Dickens Pl, Richmond, VA
- VFW Post 10654, 1401 Hillard Rd, Richmond, VA
- VFW Post 1264, 4930 Grandview Ave, NW, Roanoke, VA
- VFW Post 12154, 23 E. Main St, Salem, VA
- VFW Post 8613, 1103 Varina Ave, Shenandoah, VA
- VFW Post 2582, 308 Williams Rd, Suffolk, VA
- VFW Post 9382, 4301 Pughsville Rd, Suffolk, VA
- VFW Post 392, 2408 Bowland Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA
- VFW Post 1211, Pungo Reality, 1771 Princess Anne, Virginia Beach, VA
- VFW Post 4639, 106 Jester Lane, Williamsburg, VA
- VFW Post 2123, Elks Lodge, Winchester, VA
- VFW Post 6044, 209 North Kent Street, Winchester, VA
- VFW Post 2719, 250 S. 4th , Wytheville, VA
- VFW Post 824, 1700 George Washington Mem Hwy Ste E, Yorktown, VA
VA Facilities in Virginia
A few of the VA locations in Virginia are:
- Roanoke Regional Office: 210 Franklin Rd., SW, Roanoke, VA 24011
- Intake Site at Fort Eustis, Building 515 Sternberg Ave., Ft. Eustis, VA 23604
- Intake Site at Fort Lee, 1403 Mahone Ave., Fort Lee, VA 23801
- Intake Site at Langley Air Force Base, Airman and Family Readiness Center, 45 Nealy Ave., Hampton, VA 23665
- Intake Site at Norfolk Naval Base, Regional TAP Office, Bldg. U93, Norfolk, VA 23511
- Intake Site at Fort Belvoir, Building 808 Room A–222, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060
- Intake Site at Fort Myer, 126 Forest Circle, Bldg. 230, Fort Myer, VA 22211