Veterans deserve the disability benefits they earned while defending America, including Veterans living in West Virginia, home to approximately 159,448 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 many more who have suffered injuries yet do not have a VA disability rating. A West Virginia VA disability lawyer from Berry Law could help you in your fight for disability benefits.
Berry Law Firm has represented Veterans from coast to coast. 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 may want to enlist the support of a West Virginia Veterans disability appeal attorney. The following article is meant to help you understand the Veterans’ disability benefits process in West Virginia.
The process of applying for VA disability benefits can occur in any location in the world, regardless of where you served or where you currently reside. You can use the VA’s website to apply or get help from 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. Other relevant forms include VA Form 21-0781 or 21-0781a for PTSD claims, and VA Form 21-8940 and 21-4192 for Individual Unemployability (TDIU). Once completed, these forms can be submitted to the VA. Initial claims generally take several months to process, although they can be expedited for certain reasons, including:
It is important to start your claim early to set 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 you are filing and the amount of evidence you have submitted. The importance of the effective date is that once the claim is granted, the Veteran is entitled to retroactive monthly payments for every month that has elapsed since 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 instance, if you have 90 days to file a VAF-9 but wait too long to do so, you may have to reopen your claim resulting in a new effective date. This is why it is so important to make sure you have continued to appeal any denials you have received. This will ensure that you receive all the compensation for your disabilities once the VA grants your claim. See below for additional information about appealing VA decisions in West Virginia.
One thing to note regarding effective dates is that 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 a gastrointestinal claim filed years later.
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. An NOD can simply state “I disagree”, or it can include substantial amounts of supporting evidence. The Regional Office in West Virginia is located at: 640 4th Ave, Huntington, WV.
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 West Virginia please contact the team of attorneys at Berry Law Firm for more information and a free consultation.
Unfortunately, the VA does not always make the correct decision on a Veteran’s initial VA disability claim. When initial claims are denied, given a lower-than-expected rating, or applied to an incorrect effective date, you can appeal the decision. You can appeal in a number of different ways based on why the claim was denied. A West Virginia VA disability lawyer from Berry Law can help you present the most compelling appeal for your case, and our team has achieved desired results for Veterans in their fight for VA compensation for decades.
We have representatives in multiple cities, but the location of your attorney does not actually impact the process because all claims are Federally adjudicated. Therefore, you do not actually need a VA disability lawyer in West Virginia. We have helped clients in West Virginia and every other state in United States, as well as Veterans living abroad. We understand that the appeals process can sometimes be excruciatingly long, but if 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.
Not every West Virginia VA disability attorney is the same. If you choose to get help from an attorney for preparing and submitting your claim, it is a good idea to select one that will continue working with you throughout the multi-year process 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 began fighting on behalf of Veterans after 2007 when it became more “profitable” for them.
Oftentimes, the hardest aspect to gauge is how effectively 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.
Another aspect you may want to focus on is attorneys who have actually served in the military. Choosing to work with a West Virginia VA appeals lawyer who has military experience may help improve their understanding of your situation and eliminate the need to explain your military experiences. Fellow Veterans often make great wingmen when it comes to helping you work through difficult situations. Selecting the right firm can make a big difference in reaching your desired outcome.
Berry Law Firm was established by Vietnam Veteran John Stevens Berry, Sr. While serving in Vietnam, Berry was successful in his defense of Green Berets in a highly publicized murder case, earning him significant praise nationally. When he returned to the US, he opened a criminal defense firm dedicated to defending the constitutional rights of his clients. While developing the 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 serving in both Bosnia and Iraq during Active Duty periods. John has helped grow the firm while keeping its roots in military work ethic and values. On our staff are Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force Veterans. We have lawyers from each branch, and are proud to have both Officers and Enlisted who left the service ranking between E2 and O6. The Veterans on our team have served in Vietnam, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, at sea, and elsewhere around the world, and have the accompanying ribbon racks of sustained superior service to the country. We also have team members in the Reserves and National Guard still serving. We bring both our passion for the military and our passion for the law to help West Virginia Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you need help appealing a VA decision, contact a dedicated West Virginia VA disability lawyer on our team today for a free case evaluation.
Berry Law Firm helps Vets in the entire state of West Virginia, including those living in:
Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) can help you file an initial claim. Because we are unable to help file an initial claim, we often recommend Veterans seek the help of accredited VSO in preparing and submitting their claim. The VA recognizes certain VSOs to help prepare claims. Examples of VSOs include AMVETS, The American Legion, and VFW Posts.
Some notable VA locations in West Virginia include:
Regional Benefit Office
Information Resource Center
VA Medical Center
Community Based Outpatient Clinic
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