Appeal Process for Veteran Compensation Claims

Five Star advocates are experienced with the entire benefit application process, from initial application through final appeal. They do not back down, and will appeal your denial to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals if necessary. Our claims agents make sure you meet the deadlines for any appeals and help gather additional evidence in support of your appeal.

Below is a brief overview of the VA disability compensation claim process. At Five Star, we have streamlined the process so that the Veteran can be assured of preserving all claims, from initial adjudication through finality. Contact us at any stage of this process. Regardless of where a Veteran is along the VA claims process, the one absolute is to appeal, preserve all issues, and live to fight another day.

File Your Initial Claim

A Veteran who believes he or she has service-connected disabilities should file a claim before the local VA Regional Office (VARO). The VARO will then adjudicate the claim and issue a “Rating Decision” granting or denying the claim. If the VARO determines that the Veteran has a service connected disability they will also assign a percentage rating for each claimed disability from zero to one hundred percent. Based upon this determination, the Veteran will receive a monthly cash benefit for the service-connected disability. Contact us for help reviewing your recent Rating Decision.

File a Notice of Disagreement

It is at this point that the Veteran can appeal the decision. The most common appellate issues are: (1) the denial of benefits for a disability the Veteran believes is service connected; or (2) a rating decision less severe than the Veteran believes the disability warrants. The Veteran initiates the appeal by filing a written Notice of Disagreement (NOD) with the VARO. The Veteran has one year from the date of the mailing of the Rating Decision to file an appeal. If the Veteran does not file a NOD within one year, the Rating Decision becomes final.

Similarly, if the Veteran files a NOD that only appeals one particular issue in the Rating Decision, the other issues and claims are considered unappealed and final. The NOD is a critical part of in the VA claims process, and a Veteran should consider all potential issues arising from the claim, including the effective date of award, the diagnostic code assigned to any service connected disability, the assigned rating percentage, and any informal claims that were not addressed in the initial Rating Decision.

Filing a Substantive Appeal

Once the VARO receives the NOD, they will prepare and issue a Statement of Case (SOC). The SOC more thoroughly summarizes the evidence, laws, and regulations, and provides a more detailed account of the VARO’s rationale for denying a claim. Contact us for help reviewing the SOC so that you can identify all the issues. If the Veteran disagrees with the SOC, he or she should file an appeal within sixty (60) days.

Form 9 (Substantive Appeal) with the VARO. The VA Form 9 is needed to appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) and must be received within 60 days after the VARO mailed the SOC. The VA Form 9 is critical to preserving issues on appeal and the Veteran should again consider all potential issues arising out of his or her claim. Contact us for help preparing this appeal.

The Appellate Process at the BVA

After the Veteran files the VA Form 9, the VARO will transfer the claim to the BVA. The BVA will docket the claim based upon the issues appealed in the VA Form 9 (Substantive Appeal). Depending on whether the Veteran requested a personal hearing, the BVA will either hold a hearing (this can be held locally, at the BVA office in Washington, DC, or by videoconference) or immediately issue a decision.

If the claim is ultimately denied by the BVA, the Veteran may appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) by filing a Notice of Appeal. The Veteran normally has 120 days from the date the BVA mails the decision to file the Notice of Appeal before the CAVC.

Appeal to the Court of Appeals For Veterans Claims

The CAVC is not part of the Department of Veterans Affairs and is an independent federal court. The CAVC will issue a decision based upon the issues presented in the Notice of Appeal. If the Veteran disagrees with the CAVC decision, then further judicial appeal is possible before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit).

An appeal to the Federal Circuit must be filed within 60 days of the CAVC final decision. If the Veteran disagrees with the final decision of the Federal Circuit, the Veteran may petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case within 90 days of the Federal Circuit’s decision.

Protect Your Interests

Unfortunately, the VA disability claims process can take years to adjudicate. The process can be confusing and exhausting for a Veteran not versed in dealing with the administrative legal process. If you have questions or concerns regarding your pending VA disability compensation claim, please do not hesitate to contact us at any stage of the VA claims process.