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What do I do if I am Denied Veterans Disability Compensation?

Published on May 26th, 2020

You’ve undergone the medical examination, filled out the forms, and applied for VA disability compensation. After a long wait, you get a letter telling you that your claim has been denied. You are understandably confused or angry. Don’t lose hope. There is a process for appealing a denied veterans disability claim, and with the help of an experienced veterans lawyer, you stand a good chance at succeeding. If you have been denied your veterans disability compensation, call Jackson MacNichol today at (800) 524-3339 to get justice on your disability claims.

What Is the Process for Appealing a Veterans Disability Denial in the Legacy System?

The process of appealing the denial of your veterans disability claim is longer (often much longer) than the original claim.  It typically takes years rather than days or months.  However, some cases can be reviewed more quickly, especially if the denial was due to a clerical error. Fortunately, many, of the claims are denied by the Veteran Affairs Regional Offices (VARO) because of processing errors. Every case is different, but each appeal of a denied veterans disability compensation claim follows the same steps, at least initially, depending on when the claim was denied.  If the claim was denied before February 19, 2019, the process is:

  • File a Notice of Disagreement (NOD)–The first step in the appeals process is to notify your Regional Office that you disagree with their decision. If you don’t file the NOD, you cannot request the review of your claim, so be sure to submit within the one year deadline.
  • Request Review by a Decision Review Officer (DRO)–This step is optional but many claims are won at this level.  However, If you do not specify that you want a DRO to review your case, it will be set for traditional review. A traditional review will check the completeness and accuracy of your claim, along with the evidence you submitted and send your case to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. A DRO, on the other hand, will treat your file as if it were new, and may well decide to grant your benefits.
  • Receive the Statement of the Case (SOC)–If the DRO or traditional review denies your claims for benefits, they will send you an SOC outlining the reasons why. It will be disappointing to get rejected again, but having access to the specific reasons for your rejection will enable you and your lawyer to prepare for the next step of the appeals process. You have sixty days from the receipt of the SOC to continue your appeal by filing a Form 9.
  • Fill out and Submit VA Form 9–This form is the official method of appealing your disability compensation case to the Board of Veterans’ Appeal. If you haven’t retained a lawyer by now, it’s probably time to do so. Although you can submit evidence at any point during the legacy appeals process, your case will go better if you organize all of your evidence and arguments and submit them together with your VA Form 9.
  • Decision from the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA)–Your appeal is initially screened by BVA staff before the Board makes a decision on your appeal. Generally, it is helpful to a formal hearing with a Veterans Law judge.  After your hearing (or if you waive a hearing) the Board may grant, deny, or remand your case. 
  • Appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims–If the BVA rejects your appeal, you will have 120 days to file a “notice of appeal” in the federal court for veterans in Washington, DC. This federal court is called the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or the Veterans Court.
  • Appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit–This is typically the last chance to appeal the denial of your VA disability compensation.  This is a very specialized appeals court where only a limited number of specialist lawyers practice.  This court has limited jurisdiction and only hears appeals by veterans which raise special legal issues.  Lawyers at Jackson & MacNichol have participated in a number of successful appeals to this court.

Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) Cases.

Cases first denied after February 19, 2019, fall under the new Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) process. Click here to learn more about appealing a claim under the AMA.

How Can a Veterans Disability Compensation Lawyer Help?

As described above, the process for appealing the denial of your disability benefits can require a lot of time and effort. A lawyer can help relieve the stress of facing the VA alone, and can also optimize your chances of obtaining a positive case outcome. By the time a case gets to the Board of Veterans appeals, most claimants hire a lawyer because of the higher stakes–and the higher complexity of the legal and factual issues.

At Jackson MacNichol, we have extensive experience advocating for our clients at every stage of the veterans benefits appeals process, and are ready to begin work on your case today. Don’t miss the deadlines for appealing the denial of your veterans disability compensation. Call us now at (800) 524-3339 to learn how we can help get you the benefits you deserve.


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