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3 Ways to Appeal a VA Claim!

3 Ways to Appeal a VA Claim!

Are you a veteran?  Was your disability claim denied by Veterans Affairs (VA)?  We have information on how to appeal a VA claim!

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What is Veterans Affairs?

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is the federal agency that manages records and benefits for veterans and their families nationwide.  These benefits can include healthcare, disability, education, employment assistance, and more.

What role does the VA play in disability claims?

The VA investigates claims of disability related to a servicemember’s service.  They determine if you are eligible for a monthly financial benefit that is tax-free.  If it is denied, we can help with information on how to appeal a VA claim!

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What is considered a service-related disability?

According to the VA, benefits may be paid to:

“…Veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse.”

The injuries and conditions considered for benefits include both physical and mental.

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What if I have a discharge other than honorable?

A discharge other than honorable doesn’t automatically disqualify you from disability benefits, but you may be able to appeal a VA claim with a discharge upgrade or a VA Character of Discharge review process.

What kinds of benefits can I get for a VA disability claim?

Disability compensation from the VA can include more than just the monthly financial deposit.  It can also include special factors such as transportation or clothing allowances, support for a disabled child, specially adapted housing, and more depending on your needs.

Which conditions are considered service-related disabilities?

Some conditions that may be covered for benefits include:

  • Breathing conditions due to lung disease
  • Chronic back pain
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Cancers (caused by exposure)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • and more!

What qualifies as a presumptive disability?

There are certain conditions that typically will receive more immediate help because they are “presumed” to be easily identified.  These are called presumptive disabilities.  Monthly disability payments as well as specialized health care may be available for these claims.  Generally, disabilities that the VA may consider presumptive fall into these scenarios:

  • Chronic illness within a year of discharge
  • Illness caused by contact with toxic or hazardous materials during service
  • Condition(s) caused by time as a Prisoner of War (POW)

Chronic illness

The VA may consider benefits for long-lasting illnesses that arise within a year of discharge and are determined to be at least 10% disabling. Examples of possible chronic conditions that may be service-related:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Ulcers

Some conditions may also be covered past one year of discharge:

  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease)

Exposure to hazardous materials

Military members may be exposed to toxic chemicals in air, water, and soil during their service.  Some service members also volunteered for medical research in military biological programs between 1942 and 1975.  These and other situations may qualify you for disability and health care benefits:

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  • Agent Orange
  • Gulf War Illness
  • Camp Lejeune contaminated drinking water
  • Spina Bifida and other birth defects
  • Mustard Gas
  • Radiation

POW disabilities

Long-term effects of captivity have been linked to disabilities for POW’s.  If any combination of conditions becomes at least 10% disabling, you may be eligible for a VA disability claim.

Some conditions that may be considered for disability benefits include:

  • PTSD
  • Frostbite damage
  • Hypertensive heart disease (stroke, clots, etc.)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ulcers
  • Dysentery
  • Cirrhosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nutritional deficiencies

What is a VA disability rating?

Disability rating is a percentage assigned by the VA to represent the impact of your disability to your overall health and ability to function.  Benefit amounts may vary depending on the disability rating that VA determines.  If you believe your disability rating should be different than what the VA determines, we can show you how to appeal a VA claim.

appeal a VA claim veterans

How do I file for a disability claim?

You can file online with the US Department of Veterans Affairs claim process.

You can also file by mail using a printed application VA Form 21-526EZ.

This form may be mailed to:

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Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

You can also call the VA at 800-698-2411 24/7 for questions.

What information do I need to file a VA disability claim?

The VA will need your DD214 discharge documents and will also review treatment records from when you were in service and after you were discharged.  These may include x-rays, test results, doctor reports, and more.  It is important to provide updated information about your medical status to the VA so they update any determination of disability.

What if I disagree with the VA’s decision?

If your VA claim has been denied, there are three ways to appeal a VA claim with a request for decision review.  You may choose any or all of these processes:

  • Supplemental Claim
  • Higher-Level Review
  • Board Appeal

Supplemental Claim

The Supplemental Claim process is a good option if you have new evidence related to your claim that should be considered.  If your condition or injury has worsened since the decision, this will allow the VA to review updated information that may impact your rating.

A Supplemental Claim form is available online and may be submitted in-person at a VA regional office or via mail:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
PO Box 4444
Janesville, WI 53547-4444

Higher-Level Review

Requesting a Higher-Level Review is another way to appeal a VA claim.  No new evidence is submitted, but a more senior reviewer will evaluate your case.

You may request the Higher-Level Review online, or by submitting VA Form 20-0996 in person at your local VA regional office or mailed to the claims intake office address above.

Board Appeal

You may request a Board Appeal if you wish to appeal a VA claim.  This means that a Veterans Law Judge will review your case.  It takes approximately one year to appeal your VA claim this way if no new evidence is submitted.  If new evidence is submitted within 90 days, the Board Appeal may take more than one year.  You may also request a hearing (virtual or in-person in Washington, D.C.) to submit new evidence.

To start this process to appeal a VA claim, you need to submit a Notice of Disagreement.  This form (VA10182) is available online and may be submitted via fax to 844-678-8979 or mailed to:

Board of Veterans’ Appeals
PO Box 27063
Washington, D.C. 20038

What if I need more help to appeal a VA claim?

If you need more help to appeal a VA claim, there are attorneys who specialize in veteran law, claims agents, or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representatives.  Often your Veterans of Foreign Wars local office can direct you to accredited VSO representatives!

Looking for help in getting started with your claim?  We have a guide to writing your VA claim statement!

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After 27 years in law enforcement and state Veterans Affairs agencies, I found myself working from home and looking for dollar-stretching resources. Government programs can be notoriously difficult to navigate and I'm happy to lend my experiences to make this easier for others!