All Veterans are entitled to due compensation for injuries they sustained while serving our country, and this includes Veterans in Washington, home to roughly 582,265 Veterans. The Census Bureau calculates that roughly 18% of that group have a service-connected disability rating (the national average is 17%). However, there are others who may have incurred disabling injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. A Washington VA disability attorney from Berry Law can help you fight the VA for the disability rating and monthly compensation you are entitled to.
Berry Law Firm has represented Veterans and servicemembers 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 may want to enlist the support of a Washington VA disability attorney. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in Washington.
- Starting a VA Claim in Washington
- Submitting a VA Appeal in Washington
- Selecting a VA Disability Appeals Attorney
- Berry Law Firm: Veterans Serving Veterans
- Serving Clients from Across Washington
- VA Facilities in Washington
Starting a VA Claim in Washington
The process of applying for VA disability benefits can be initiated from anywhere in the US, regardless of whether you served in that location or where you currently live. You can use the VA’s website to apply or seek the help of a Veterans Service Organization (VSO).
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). 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 generally take several months to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including terminal illness, Veteran 75 years or older, homelessness, or financial hardship. It is a good idea to put in an initial claim as soon as possible to establish an early effective date. 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 disabilities you are filing for. The importance of the effective date is that the Veteran should receive back pay 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 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. This is one reason it is so important to appeal decisions thoroughly, to keep the effective date in place and receive all the compensation you are entitled to receive. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in Washington.
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.
Submitting a VA Appeal in Washington
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, the Veteran has the right to appeal. There are separate avenues for appeal depending on what kind of mistake the VA made. This is the first step in the process where a Washington VA disability attorney from our team can step in and help.
Berry Law helps Veterans cut through the red tape and file high quality appeals that have achieved beneficial results for Veterans. 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, you do not actually need a VA disability lawyer in Washington. In fact, we have helped clients in Washington and every other state in America, 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 typically 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. 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 Offices in Washington are located at: 915 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98174.
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, you can contact a Washington VA disability attorney from Berry Law for more information and a free consultation.
Selecting a VA Certified Attorney in Washington
Not every Washington VA disability lawyer is identical. If you decide to hire an attorney to help with your claim, you should pick one that will stick with you for the duration of your case and 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. It is sometimes difficult to gauge how well your lawyer will perform when it comes to extensive research, well-structured arguments, and compelling evidence. While number of years of practice can serve as a proxy, it’s hard to gauge work product until it’s done. Testimonials and reviews can provide additional insight that may help you determine how well the firm has done for other Veterans.
You may also want to focus on attorneys who have actually served in the military. Utilizing a Washington VA appeals lawyer who has military experience can facilitate better communication and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences to someone without similar experience. Having shared military values with your law firm can make the process more comfortable and less stressful. When it’s time to fix bayonets and charge a position, will your attorney understand? 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: 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, resulting in major news coverage and an elite reputation. After leaving the service, he opened his own firm focused on criminal defense, but where 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 earlier Active Duty tours in both Bosnia and Iraq. John has built a Firm that lives on military tradition and values.
In our ranks are 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 have the accompanying ribbon racks of sustained superior service to the country. We also have Reservists and National Guardsmen still wearing the uniform. 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 Washington VA disability attorney from our team will bring passion for the military and passion for the law to help Washington Veterans in their fight for disability benefits.
Serving Clients Across Washington
A Washington VA disability attorney from Berry Law Firm will help Vets from all over Washington, including in:
- Seattle, WA
- Spokane, WA
- Tacoma, WA
- Vancouver, WA
- Bellevue, WA
- Kent, WA
- Everett, WA
- Renton, WA
- Yakima, WA
- Federal Way, WA
- Spokane Valley, WA
- Bellingham, WA
- Kennewick, WA
- Auburn, WA
Resources for Veterans in Washington
Although a Washington VA disability attorney from our team is unable to assist in filing an initial claim with the VA, there are other options available, most notable VSOs. The VA recognizes some VSOs to help prepare and present claims to the VA. Examples of Veterans Service Organizations include AMVETS, The American Legion, and VFW Posts
VA Facilities in Washington
A few of the VA facilities located in Washington include:
VA Health Care System
- Lakewood, WA – VA Puget Sound Health Care System – American Lake Division
- Seattle, WA – VA Puget Sound Health Care System
- Seattle, WA – VA Puget Sound Health Care System – Seattle Division
VA Medical Center
- Spokane, WA – Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center
- Vancouver, WA – VA Portland Health Care System – Vancouver Campus
- Walla Walla, WA – Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center
Integrated Clinical Facility
- Yakima, WA – Yakima Valley Vet Center
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Bellevue, WA – Valor CBOC Bellevue
- Bremerton, WA – Bremerton CBOC
- Chehalis, WA – South Sound CBOC
- Federal Way, WA – Valor CBOC Federal Way
- Mount Vernon, WA – Mount Vernon CBOC
- Port Angeles, WA – North Olympic Peninsula
- Richland, WA – Richland (WA) Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Seattle, WA – Valor CBOC North Seattle
- Wenatchee, WA – Wenatchee CBOC
- Yakima, WA – Yakima (WA) Community Based Outpatient Clinic
- Bellingham, WA – Bellingham Vet Center
- Everett, WA – Everett Vet Center
- Federal Way, WA – Federal Way Vet Center
- Lacey, WA – Lacey Outstation
- Seattle, WA – Seattle Vet Center
- Spokane, WA – Spokane Vet Center
- Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Vet Center
- Walla Walla, WA – Walla Walla Vet Center
- Yakima, WA – Yakima Valley Vet Center
- Walla Walla, WA – 687
- Yakima, WA – Yakima Valley Vet Center
- Vancouver, WA – VISN 20: Northwest Network
Regional Benefit Office
- Seattle, WA – Seattle Regional Office
Intake Site (Pre-Discharge Claims Assistance)
- Bremerton, WA – Bangor Sub Base
- Bremerton, WA – Everett Naval Station
- Bremerton, WA – Kitsap NB
- Bremerton, WA – Whidbey Island Naval Air Station
- Fairchild AFB, WA – Fairchild Air Force Base
- Fort Lewis, WA – Fort Lewis
- Fort Lewis, WA – McChord Air Force Base