You served your country dutifully, and became sick or injured as a result. You were promised that if that happened, you would have access to veterans’ disability benefits through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). And yet, your claim was denied, or you had much less in benefits than you believe you are entitled to. In that case, it might be time to ask for an appeal of that decision.
What Does it Mean to Appeal Your Ruling?
An “appeal” refers to the process of getting your case a second look, giving you an additional chance at getting disability benefits. This can be done either by adding new evidence to your original claim, or by having someone higher up in the VA’s bureaucracy review your case. This allows you to make your case once more, and correct or explain any issues that might have gotten your claim denied in the first place.
Why Appeal Your Ruling?
There are two primary reasons to seek a review of your disability benefits claim with the VA. The first is that you were denied benefits, either because you could not prove you were disabled, or because you could not prove your disability was related to your military service. The second is that you were awarded benefits, but at a lower level than you believe you are entitled to. An appeal allows you to have your disability benefits claim reevaluated, potentially allowing you to get the benefits you were previously denied.
What Does an Appeal Involve?
There are three primary kinds of appeals or review processes related to appealing for veterans’ disability benefits:
- Supplemental Claim: You file an additional claim with new evidence of your disability that was not available when you originally filed your claim.
- Higher-Level Review: You appeal your claim to a senior reviewer, who will go over your existing claim to see if the lower-level decision was correct.
- Board Appeal: An appeal to a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals that you can seek if your supplemental claim or higher-level review do not go your way.
A supplemental claim can help you if you have obtained new evidence since you first applied for benefits, either verifying the existence of your disability or confirming your disability was the result of your military service. A higher-level review or board appeal, on the other hand, is helpful if you believe you just need other eyes on your case. Either way, an appeal can give you another chance at obtaining disability benefits.
What Are the Benefits of an Appeal?
Appealing your veterans’ disability ruling can help you in several ways. First, you can potentially get access to the benefits you were originally denied. This can include getting access to healthcare through the VA, as well as getting disability pay that can help you cover your personal expenses. You may also be able to get back pay for any benefits you lost in the time between when you first applied and when you were finally awarded disability benefits.
Once you officially have disabled status, you can also become eligible for certain programs that are only available to disabled veterans. This includes access to education and training, assistance with securing home loans, and a variety of other programs that can improve your quality of life. However, to maximize your chances, you should not do this alone. Instead, you should get assistance from an attorney experienced in veterans’ disability claims, who can help you with both your initial filing and the appeals process.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.