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3 things you can do if your VA disability benefits claim was denied

So, your VA disability benefits claim got denied – or maybe you disagree with the decision that was made. Now what? It might feel hopeless, especially after everything you had to organize already. But the good news is: There are a few options for Veterans who get their VA disability benefits claim denied.

Even in the face of a denial, it's still possible to reverse the decision and get the benefits you deserve with a couple different methods. In this blog, we'll go over three different options you can choose between when dealing with a claim denial.

Here are 3 different ways to handle a VA disability benefits claim denial:

File for a higher level review

What is a higher level review? We like to describe it as asking for a supervisor's review. Officially, however, the VA defines this process as "requesting a new review of your case by a higher-level reviewer." Veterans can request a higher level review anytime within 1 year from their original claim decision. This review typically takes between 4 and 5 months to complete, and if you request an informal conference (a phone call with the reviewer to discuss your case) it will likely take longer than that. You're not allowed to add any new information, but getting a new set of eyes – often with more attention to detail – can result in a different decision.

Requesting a higher level review is simple and can be done on the VA's website through an online application. If you prefer via mail or in-person, you can do that too – we've included details about that on this blog.

File a supplemental claim

Supplemental claims are similar to higher level review, but there's one key difference: Supplemental claims allow Veterans to add additional information or supporting documentation to their claim. These claims must contain new information that wasn't previously included. If you filed a claim but had gaps in care, missing documents, or would like to include something else such as a personal statement – a supplemental claim could be the right choice for you. There are a few necessary criteria that must be met before you can file a supplemental claim:

  • You have new info or documents to add to the claim.

  • The claim was already decided upon in the past.

  • Your claim is not a contested claim.

Note: If you're feeling confused about the difference between a higher level review and a supplemental claim, we wrote an in-depth blog about it here.

File for a VA Board Appeals review

Board Appeals are the final and most involved option for denied claims, and they can only be requested AFTER an initial claim, higher level review, or supplemental claim. Think of Board Appeals as the final attempt at getting a favorable outcome for your VA disability benefits claim. During a Board Appeal, a Veterans Law Judge at the Board of Veterans' Appeals reviews your case to determine whether a different decision is warranted. These reviewers are experts in Veterans law. Like higher level review, you have 1 year from the date of your original claim result to file for a Board Appeals review.

There are 3 different types of Board Appeals:

  • Direct Review: The judge reviews your existing evidence.

  • Evidence Submission: The judge considers new evidence that you submit.

  • Hearing: You speak with the judge in-person (adding info is optional).

Decisions for Board Appeals can take up to two years. Request a Board Appeal online, or visit this webpage for information on requesting one via mail or in-person.

How to request any type of review

The VA's form 20-0998 (accessible online here) contains information about each type of appeal, and how to request one. You can also visit the VA's webpage here for more details on this form, including when to use it and downloadable PDF versions of the forms.

Need help preparing documents for a VA disability benefits claim?

That's where we come in. At MRPY Professional Services, we're passionate about helping Veterans have an easy and effective claims process. It all starts with proper documentation, which can make or break your VA disability benefits claim. Whether you need a DBQ, Nexus Letter, chart review, or simply guidance on where to get started – we can help. Sign up for a chart review to get started, or view our full range of services here. Filing a VA disability benefits claim doesn't have to be complicated or stressful.

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