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How To Appeal a VA Decision for Disability Benefits

Tucker Law Group
October 22, 2020

Are you a veteran seeking guidance on how to appeal a VA claim? Appealing a VA disability rating or decision is a long and arduous process. However, how you handle your VA disability claim appeal from the moment you receive your notice of action letter is important. You do not want to miss your deadline or hurt your chances of winning your appeal.

At Tucker Law Group, we are here to help veterans like you manage their appeals to win the disability benefits they deserve. Below, we discuss how to appeal a VA decision and tips on how to win a VA appeal.

How to Win a VA Appeal

How do you win a VA appeal? Below, are a few practical tips to keep in mind to help you win your VA appeal.

  1. Be Mindful of Your Deadline to Appeal. You have one year from the Rating Decision decision date to appeal your claim. Do not miss your appeal deadline! If you do, you will have to file a Supplemental VA disability claim to re-open the denied claim, and the best effective date you will get is the date you file your Supplemental claim. The effective date is important because it affects your retroactive award.
  2. Understand Your Options. The appeals process is complex which means you may not understand the best way to appeal a VA disability claim right away. Use the information below to learn more about how to appeal a VA decision and the different types of appeal available.
  3. Seek Help From an Experienced Attorney. You are allowed to receive legal help with your VA disability appeal.

Legacy Appeals vs. Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) System

If you are appealing a VA disability decision for your VA disability compensation claim, then there are certain forms that must be filed to properly begin this process. Depending on when your claim was decided, you will appeal under the Legacy Appeals system or the Appeals Modernization Act system. The date of your claim decision will determine which system you use for your appeal.

  • If your claim decision date is before February 19, 2019, then you will file your appeal under the Legacy Appeals system. You should file a Notice of Disagreement within a year of the Rating Decision date.
  • If your claim decision date is on or after February 19, 2019, then you will file your claim under the Appeals Modernization Act system. As you will read below, there are three options for you to pick from when you appeal a Rating Decision under the Appeals Modernization system.

Appealing Under the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) System

You received a rating decision from the VA, but you are dissatisfied with the decision. Appealing the VA disability claim decision is an option you have to not only seek the benefits you deserve but to keep the effective date from your original claim. The notice of action letter you received with your rating decision will provide you with your decision date. You have one year from that date to appeal.

Many veterans today will automatically be in the new AMA system. When filing an appeal under the AMA system, you must pick one of three types of appeals (VA calls them “lanes”):

  • Supplemental Claim Lane: VA Form 20-0995. The main benefit of a Supplemental Claim is that it allows you to file new evidence. If a Supplemental Claim is denied, you still have all three lanes to file another appeal, which must be filed within one year of the decision.
  • Higher-Level Review Lane: VA Form 20-0996. Often called “HLR,” no new evidence can be submitted in this type of appeal. In the HLR lane, the reviewer is not bound by what the old reviewer decided, but they do have to consider only the evidence that is already in the file.  If a Higher Level Review request is denied, your appeal choices are narrowed at that point, and you may only file a Supplemental Claim or Board appeal within one year of the HLR decision.
  • Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA): VA Form 10182. This is the last stop for an appeal in the VA system. To go to the BVA you will need to file a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of the decision.

Under the new AMA system, you can seek help from an attorney before choosing a lane. Consulting an experienced VA disability attorney before you choose what appeal process to pursue is in your best interest. Your attorney will help you decide the best approach for your appeal.

Questions About Appealing a VA Disability Decision? Schedule a Free Consultation

It is common to have questions about appealing VA disability claim decisions. The attorneys at Tucker Law Group can step in to help you appeal your claim. Our attorneys will use our expertise to help you fight for your benefits. We have helped thousands of clients nationwide fight for the VA disability benefits they deserve.

For a free consultation, contact our nationally recognized law firm today at (866) 233-5044. Also, feel free to message us through our online contact page. We help disabled veterans nationwide.