Our Veterans deserve the compensation for injuries they sustained while defending America, including Veterans living in Washington DC, home to approximately 31,119 Veterans. Veterans who live in Washington DC, like Veterans elsewhere around the world, are entitled to compensation for disabilities that arose due to their time in service. If you are a Veteran in Washington DC who needs help appealing your rating decision from the VA, contact an experienced Washington DC VA disability lawyer from Berry Law.
Berry Law has represented Veterans in all 50 states. 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 Washington DC VA disability attorney. Please read on to learn more about how we can help Veterans in Washington DC.
The process of applying for disability benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the world, regardless of where you served or where you currently live. You can use the VA’s website to apply, or seek the help of a local VSO (Veterans Service Organization).
To get started, you need to complete VA Form 21-526EZ or apply online through the VA eBenefits portal. If you want the VA to collect medical evidence on your behalf, you must also complete VA Forms 21-4142 and 21-4142a. Additional forms that you may need to submit include forms for PTSD (0781 or 0781a) and TDIU (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. 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 you are filing. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran is entitled to back pay 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 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 get all the compensation they’re entitled to. It is also important to note that each individual disability claim has its own effective date based on when it was first claimed, so an earlier effective date for a shoulder claim will usually not apply to an initial claim for PTSD submitted years later. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Washington DC.
Unfortunately, the VA does not always make the correct decision for a Veteran’s initial disability benefits claim. If an initial claim is denied, rated too low, or given an improper effective date, you can appeal the decision. This is the first step in the claims process where an attorney from Berry Law can step in and help. There are separate avenues for appeal depending on what kind of mistake the VA made. An experienced Washington DC VA disability lawyer from Berry Law could help you determine the most effective route to appeal your claim.
Berry Law helps Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality appeals that have achieved the results our clients need. 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 Washington DC. In fact, our team at Berry Law has helped Veterans in Washington, DC, 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 claims 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 Offices in Washington DC is located at: 1722 I St NW, Washington, DC 20421.
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, please contact a Washington DC VA disability lawyer for a free case evaluation and help determining what your options may be.
Not every Washington DC VA disability attorney is the same. 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 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. Beware of firms that only began practicing Veterans Law after 2007 when it became more “profitable” for them.
Sometimes 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. You may also want to focus on attorneys who have actually served in the military. Choosing to work with a Washington DC VA appeals lawyer who has military experience can facilitate better communication and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences to someone who never enlisted. Nothing can replace the camaraderie developed through shared service experiences. Will your law firm understand the intense stress of combat?
Lastly, you may want to gauge responsiveness to your inquiry to see how likely the attorney is to help quickly when you really need it.
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, earning him significant national praise. While developing a criminal defense practice, 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 helped grow the firm while keeping its roots in military work ethic and values. In our ranks are 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 members of the Reserves and National Guard still serving. In fact, we were recognized by the Department of Labor for our commitment to hiring Veterans with the Platinum HIREVets medallion.
We combine our military and legal training to assist Washington DC Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you need assistance appealing a VA decision, contact a Washington DC VA disability lawyer from Berry Law for help today.
VA Medical Center
Regional Benefit Office
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.