The Appeal Conundrum


Recently, the Veterans Administration issued a new set of appeal options for Veterans appealing their VA disability claims. When a Veteran gets denied at the initial level, they may request a review of the decision (an appeal). The VA now gives a Veteran several ways to do this.

The first option is a Supplemental Claim, This is essentially a new claim for an old issue. The Veteran is asking the VA to review new evidence in a new claim. This could be medical records that were not available when the first claim was filed, or other evidence the VA did not consider.

The second option is a Higher Level Review. This is asking a different person at the same office to look at the Veteran’s evidence again. This person is someone who has education and training in the law and legal issues surrounding Veterans’ claims. They are not a judge, but they are typically an attorney with special training. You can request a hearing with this person and they will ask you questions about legal issues in the case. They have the authority to approve a Veteran if all the legal requirements are met.

The third option is to request an appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals. This is a more formal appeal where the claims move to a different part of the VA and a Veterans Law Judge makes a decision in the case. The Veteran can choose to proceed with the Judge only looking at the written materials in the case, or the Veteran can request a hearing and speak to the Judge. The hearing may be held in person in Washington D.C., in person at a Regional Office with a Travel Board Judge, or via video teleconference.

It can be difficult deciding how to proceed with a claim. In the past, Veterans did not have as many options and it was easier for a Veteran representing themselves to decide how to proceed. If a Veteran’s Service Organization was representing a Veteran, they would assist them in filing and appeal and refer then to an attorney for the remainder of the case. With multiple options, it is now more complicated.

Some private attorneys do not represent a Veteran until after they have appealed to the Board. Now, however, a Veteran may have questions about what type of appeal they should request, how each type of appeal is handled by the VA, and if there are benefits to choosing one type of appeal over another. For this reason, it may be advantageous to consult an attorney before a Veteran has completed appeal documents. It is also important to remember a Veteran has a limited amount of time to appeal and may be unable to proceed with a claim if they fail to act quickly.

If you have questions about your appeal and would like a free case evaluation, contact Jodee Dietzenbach at (563) 649-4073 today!

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