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Understanding the VA Disability Rating Appeal Process

Published on February 25th, 2021

Despite unwavering dedication to duty, veterans with disabilities are often denied benefits – and may also receive low ratings during their initial rating decision. If this has happened to you, or someone you love, you should reach out to the best VA disability lawyers in Maine. While this decision is not final, and you should not be alarmed by an initial denial, it is a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable attorney prior to your appeal.

You Have a Limited Amount of Time to File Your Rating Appeal

Once you receive your VA rating decision letter, you will have one year to file your rating appeal. If you wait longer, you will need to submit a new application and start a new claim. Because the VA Disability system is already slow, you should never waste time preparing your rating appeal. Any delay will set back your claim.

Submitting Your VA Disability Rating Appeal

The first thing to do if you are planning on filing a rating appeal is filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). This doesn’t require a great deal of legal theory, as it is a rather generic letter stating that you wish to begin a VA disability rating appeal. However, you may wish to have your lawyer help you with this.

Your next step will be to gather sound evidence. While the VA is known to make mistakes when adjudicating claims, your original low-rating or denial may have been due to a lack of sound evidence.

Do Not Submit the Same Evidence at Appeal

As in any area of law, you are required to present valid and convincing evidence to win. If you have a mental or physical condition, you will need verified medical documentation of your disability to win your claim. You can obtain the necessary documentation from your doctor, or a referred specialist – and it should include a complete diagnosis and any treatment you are receiving.

Our lawyers for VA claims in Maine often use these sources to obtain evidence when filing a VA Disability rating appeal:

  • Non-VA Doctors – Many veterans mistakenly believe that they cannot submit medical reports from doctors outside of the VA. Our VA disability attorneys find that using medical reports from private doctors often help to elevate our clients’ claims.
  • Medical Specialists – Using reports acquired from specialists can be very helpful when it comes to your rating appeal. For instance, if you are suffering from back pain, you could submit reports from your orthopedic surgeon or even your chiropractor.
  • Psychologists / Psychiatrists – If you are appealing for a mental condition, reports from a psychologist or psychiatrist can be extremely valuable. They will be able to detail how your mental condition, for example PTSD, is related to your military service. .
  • Vocational Experts – These experts will be able to write reports detailing why your service-connected disabilities are preventing you from being able to work.
  • Buddy Statements – These types of statements are often underused in VA appeals, but they can be particularly helpful for veterans with missing records.

Jackson & MacNichol Law Offices

If you are facing a VA Disability ratings appeal, reach out to our dedicated and compassionate veterans’ disability law firm for a free case evaluation. We are here to help.


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