VA Disability Benefits:  Types of Appeals

VA disability benefits: Types of Appeals. Back in February of 2019, February 19th to be exact, the Veterans Administration changed its appeals process for VA Disability claims.  At that time they transitioned from what is now lovingly called the legacy appeals process to the modernized decision review process.  In this blog series, we are going to look at the different appeals options you have under each of these systems and how they differ from each other. We will also attempt to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each appeal option. However, this will be a bit more difficult because benefits and drawbacks can be very specific to the specific claim and the desires of the veteran or family making the claim.

First, The Basics For Claims

Before we get into the details of the appeals process, I want to lay out the basics for VA claims in general.  Luckily, initial applications are all the same.  While you have the option to file them in several different ways, you do not have to make specific types of applications to open up specific types of appeals. 

Simply go online, call your local VA office, or mail a completed application to get your claim started. 

While what all the VA looks at and for is too much to describe here, at the very basic level an examiner will be looking to establish two main things: 1) that you have a medical condition that is disabling under the VA’s rules, and 2) that the disabling medical conditions are in some way connected to your military service. 

There are numerous medical conditions that could give rise to a disability rating (between 0% and 100%) and these ratings can be combined.  If a condition is given a rating at all (even 0%) then you are entitled to at least VA medical care for that condition.  At different total disability rating levels, you are entitled to monthly payments that increase as your disability rating increases.

Denied Benefits?  You Can Appeal

If you are denied benefits, then you must begin the process of appeal.  It is important to note that for the purposes of VA disability benefits claims, an official denial is generally referred to as a statement of the case (which is explaining the decision to deny the claim).  Currently, in most situations, the VA provides for four different appeal options:

  1. Legacy Appeals Process;
  2. Supplemental Claim;
  3. Higher-Level Review; or
  4. Board Appeal.

Each appeal option allows for different actions to be taken.  Under some you have (or can have) a full hearing, while under others you can submit additional information (but not all of them).  Furthermore, some options allow you to choose different options to continue the appeal if you continue to be denied (while others are the “end of the line”).

Legacy Appeals Process

Let’s start out this blog series with a discussion on the legacy appeals process.  We will discuss the other options listed above in blogs over the next several weeks.  If you received your denial prior to February 19, 2019, then you will be required to proceed under the legacy system.  However, if the denial was processed after this date you may choose between continuing with the legacy appeals process or move into the new decision review process. 

The modern decision review process allows significantly more freedom, additional opportunities to supplement your claim with evidence, and the possibility of a faster road to appeal.  Furthermore, it seems that the VA only intends to keep the legacy appeals process around for a few more years as it transitions into the decision review process.  For that reason, I’m not going to spend much time on the legacy appeals process, or go into great detail. 

At its heart, the legacy appeals process was a much more linear system that had veterans appeal from one level to the next without real options as to how to pursue their claim.  Each of these levels allowed only certain things in regards to submission of new evidence, conducting of hearings, time frames, etc.  While there can certainly be some benefits to continuing in the legacy system, in most cases, opting into the new system will provide you with significant advantages.

GKT VA Disability Attorney

This is just the beginning.  While we have many more types of appeals to discuss, the legacy appeals process already provides you with a ton of options to consider.  GKT can help with this process.  From ensuring that you properly prove your conditions are related to your military service to choosing the best appeal option for your specific claim, Gold, Khourey and Turak has the experience and knowledge to win you your benefits.  We can help you choose the appeal option that is best for you and help you correct any issues in your initial claim or prior appeal.

Welcome Taylor D. Potts to Staff

If you have questions, or need help with your VA disability benefits, contact our office at (304) 845-9750. Don’t wait, you must make all the decisions regarding your appeals and file within a year to be within your deadlines to continue your claim. Please join us next time as we dig into the often first appeal level under the modern VA system, Supplemental Claims.